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PhD Life

Self worth and the PhD

Not long after I began my PhD I saw a piece of advice that read ‘be cautious of letting your PhD become the sole thing by which you measure your self worth’. Sounds reasonable, I thought. Only recently, however, have I come to realise its true value.

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Photos From Our RSES Adventures. Vol. 5.

This week we have some shots from field trips undertaken by PhD, Masters and Undergrad students at RSES! Enjoy.

Continue reading “Photos From Our RSES Adventures. Vol. 5.”

Photos From Our RSES Adventures. Vol. 4.

This week’s photo installment was going to be the People’s Choice winners! But, one of the winners was featured in volume 1 (A foraminifera catching and beginning to eat a copepod by Dr. Oscar Branson), so this installment instead contains the stories of the two other winner of the People’s Choice prizes, and then an writers choice photo! Enjoy.

People’s Choice Award for ‘Where We Go’

– Dr Jonathan Pownall (ARC DECRA Fellow in Structure Tectonics)

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In November last year, I travelled to Arthur’s Pass National Park on New Zealand’s South Island.  Walking from Arthur’s Pass Village—New Zealand’s highest settlement—I climbed for a few hours up Avalanche Peak, just above the snow line, where I was greeted by a number of Keas, the world’s only ‘Alpine’ parrots.  I took a few photos, surprised by how close I was able to approach (I had only a wide-angle lens).  And by how enthusiastically they were trying to destroy my rucksack, which I left on a nearby rock.  I’d like to say that some level of skill was behind this photograph, but the truth is that it was just a lucky shot.  A spilt second before I took the photo of the Kea on the right, it was scared by another Kea landing to the photo’s left, and burst into flight.  The result: an amazing glimpse at the Keas’ fiery-orange outstretched wings amid the spectacular snow-capped Southern Alps.

Continue reading “Photos From Our RSES Adventures. Vol. 4.”

Photos From Our RSES Adventures. Vol. 3.

This week we are sharing a bunch of interesting photos of places and samples from around Australia and the world. Enjoy.

Can You Do This? Mulga, Central Australia

– Associate Professor Hrvoje Tkalčić (Seismology and Mathematical Geophysics)

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This camel photo was taken when Armando Arcidiaco (our technical officer) and myself were in the field to retrieve 6 ANU seismic instruments that we installed to monitor the aftershock activity from a large (magnitude 6.1) earthquake that shook central Australia on May 21, 2016. The shot was taken while Armando was driving and I was in a good position to observe the beautiful landscape and nature of Mulga National Park, about 100 km southwest of Uluru. There was a wild excitement in the animals due to an unusually large amount of water (a consequence of La Nina) and thriving vegetation in usually desolate areas.

Continue reading “Photos From Our RSES Adventures. Vol. 3.”

Photos From Our RSES Adventures. Vol. 2.

This week we bring you the Highly Commended images from our inaugural Photography Competition. Well the first three images are, and the last image is an ‘authors pick’! Enjoy.

 

What We Study

Chert – Jeremy Mole (Undergrad Earth and Marine Science Student)

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I took this photo at an outcrop on Melville Point, NSW during the EMSC1008 south coast field trip run by Dr. Andrew Berry in September 2016. It is a picture of a series of cherts, which are fine grained organic sedimentary rocks formed by a process called diagenesis, where siliceous skeletons of marine plankton are dissolved, and the silica re-precipitated from the resulting solution. The chert can be of many colours such as brown, grey, yellow, red and white as seen in the photo. Also featuring in the photo are some well-defined fold structures.

Although it was a cloudy, rainy, wet day, the colours were still so vibrant that I took a couple of photos. Nothing fancy, just low aperture

Continue reading “Photos From Our RSES Adventures. Vol. 2.”

Photos From Our RSES Adventures. Vol.1

As part of our annual Student Conference, this year we held our first ever RSES Photography Competition! Over the coming months we are going to be sharing with you some of these photos, and the stories and science behind them.

This week we start on a high with the winning images from our three categories; Where We Go, Who We Are and What We Study, as well as the overall winner. Enjoy!

Where We Go

Milky Way + Tent – Dr. Jonathan Pownall (ARC DECRA Fellow)

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The photo was taken in August 2014 during a trip to Ladakh in the Indian Himalaya with Dr. Marnie Forster.  We were undertaking geological mapping and structural analysis of shear zones related to the exhumation of UHP coesite-bearing eclogites.  One night, camping by Tso Kar lake (4500 m), I opened my tent, and the sky was amazingly clear, and the Milky Way looked pretty special.  The lamp was still on in the kitchen tent… so I balanced my camera on a rock and took a long exposure photo.

Continue reading “Photos From Our RSES Adventures. Vol.1”

Why we should March for Science

By Ali and Jess

Five reasons YOU should March for Science TOMORROW:

  1. You believe that government decisions should be guided by facts and evidence. March for Informed Public Policy!
  2. To say no to restrictions being placed on scientists communicating their research, as we are currently seeing in the U.S. Show your support for Open Communication of Knowledge!
  3. For Stable Science Investment, for security in our future jobs!
  4. For a science informed future and a well-informed community. We need kids to learn and love science, they are the future! We need Universal STEM Literacy!
  5. Finally, science is our tool to solve some of the world’s most challenging problems; it is worth marching for!

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Staff vs Student Lawn Bowls

The Research School of Earth Sciences has a long history of pitching the staff against the students in a biannual sporting competition. The staff have dominated in the last few student vs staff sporting competitions, especially cricket, where many of the student team had never bowled a ball or held a bat before. Read more about last year’s cricket match here.

This year strategy overtook tradition and the students challenged the staff to the inaugural student vs staff lawn bowls tournament. There was more participation than ever before with even a few of our youngest coming along to support their parents.

The weather was a sunny 29 degrees as we all made our way down to the RUC. The tension was thick and strategies were forming as the instructor explained the rules of lawn bowls.

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PhD by haiku, vol. 4

Compiled by Patrick, Patrick and Louise.

The fourth and potentially final installation of our longest running series.

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Buried in a grave
Sea of torrid rock and heat
Spawns a seed so deep
— Jess, experimental petrology

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Flash rock plummets scorched earth
Oasis of questions
Frostily protected
— Liane, isotope geochemistry

Continue reading “PhD by haiku, vol. 4”

PhD by haiku, vol. 3

Compiled by Patrick, Patrick and Louise.

A continuation of a continuation of our PhD haiku’s.

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Such a mystery zircon
So obsessed with you
Let me know you more
— Bei, isotope geochemistry

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The sea-floor goes deep
Water is lost on the way
Looking for witness
— Laure, isotope geochemistry

Continue reading “PhD by haiku, vol. 3”

PhD by haiku, vol. I

Compiled by Patrick, Patrick and Louise

We asked members of the student body to summarise their research in the form of a haiku. Here is what they came up with…

tim-j

Dear sweet mantle plume
I really hope you exist
So much wasted time
— Tim, geodynamics

hannah

Where did people live?
Isotopes in teeth can help,
to stalk ancient folk
— Hannah, isotope geochemistry

Continue reading “PhD by haiku, vol. I”

RSES Writing Retreat at Kioloa

By Jess

At the end of November a group of PhD students from RSES headed to ANU’s coastal campus in Kioloa for the first RSES writing retreat.

As expected of a ‘writing’ retreat, a lot of us were writing, but there were also people reading, coding, making figures – any work that can be done from a laptop.

The days had timetabled writing sessions, which were structured in 25 minute long pomodoros1 with 5 minute breaks, and longer stops for morning/afternoon tea and lunch. Working in short intensive sessions with regular breaks really helped to keep focused, and with everyone on the retreat keen to get work done, there was a good sense of solidarity.

writing-retreat
Concentration during a writing session (Photo: Jennifer Prichard)

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A moment of terror: public speaking

By Michael

Two weeks ago the Research School of Earth Sciences here at the Australian National University hosted a symposium titled “21st Century Resources“. It was indeed an interesting symposium (or conference? or workshop? or colloquium?) covering a variety of subjects including ore deposits, energy use, climate change, and more.

Being an experimental petrologist specialising in ore deposits myself, I was particularly interested in the third and last day that had the catchy name “Metals for the Millennials“. One of the scheduled talks was about unconventional resources and rare earth elements by Carl Spandler, a professor from James Cook University in Queensland. Unfortunately, he had an unexpected appointment he had to attend, and he asked my supervisor if he could give the talk instead of him (by the way – Carl is also on my supervisory panel). Instead, my supervisor suggested I do it instead. Surprised and exhilarated by the opportunity to speak in front of important people in the symposium, I agreed.

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Geology of Tasmania

Every two years a group of PhD students disappear into the geological wilderness for the RSES Student Field Trip. In 2014, students spent two weeks camping in the Australian outback investigating the regional geology of Central Australia. After many discussions and presentations about exotic and tropical locations, the student cohort settled on a geological road trip around Tasmania. Here is a  quick overview of the geological history of Tasmania and some of the cool sites we managed to visit.

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Part 2: The Measurements

This week’s blog post is coming from Jennifer Wurtzel, who is currently on a boat analyzing sediment cores from the ocean floor in the Western Pacific Warm Pool!
In my last post, I wrote about how we get our samples for moisture and density (MAD) measurements.  In this post, I’ll discuss the measurements themselves.  We measure three things for MAD: wet mass, dry mass, and dry volume.  From these three measurements, we calculate a number of other properties, including porosity, grain density, porewater, and about 10 more. This may sound straightforward, but measuring mass on a boat is not as simple as on land because the boat is rolling!

Continue reading “Part 2: The Measurements”

Part 1: Taking Discrete Samples

This week’s blog post is coming from Jennifer Wurtzel, who is currently on a boat analyzing sediment cores from the ocean floor in the Western Pacific Warm Pool!
I am currently serving as a Physical Properties Specialist on Expedition 363 aboard the JOIDES Resolution. As part of the Phys Props team, I help run instruments that scan our sediment cores for physical characteristics (e.g. density) right as they come on board so that the “Stratigraphic Correlators” can identify patterns in the core, which will be used to guide the coring process.

Continue reading “Part 1: Taking Discrete Samples”

An unhelpful post on time management

By Jess

So this morning I stumbled on this cartoon:

phd

And it illustrated exactly what I feel like at the moment.

I’m pretty sure I’m not the only PhD student feeling like this at the moment.

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PhD Status: It’s Complicated

By Kelsie

I recently crossed the 3 ½ year mark of my PhD, went off scholarship, switched to part-time, got a casual admin job, didn’t get into a graduate program, bought a bunch of IKEA furniture and received reviews for a paper. It’s fair to say that I’m giving a lot of mixed messages about my PhD status.

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