The how to, and how not to, guide to interviewing for the Australian Public Service (3)

By Kelly

Welcome to Part 3 of my recent foray into the public service recruitment process. I’ve discussed the selection criteria and the written assessments, so today we finish the tour with the panel interviews. I interviewed for all three departments that I applied to and witnessed some very diverse styles of inquiry. In each instance, the questions were given 5-15 minutes before the interview, to allow the candidate to make a few notes. I was incredibly well prepared for Department ‘A’ and Geoscience Australia and was able to weave my skills in with their existing programs. I had a clear understanding of each departments strategic vision and an arsenal of examples that showed how I ‘fit’ within these directives. At both interviews there was much smiling from the panel, as they scribbled notes as I ticked all the right boxes. My weaving was elegant, I had clearly done my homework and if they didn’t want my basket of skills then that was okay with me, as I don’t think I could have presented them any better.

Then there was Department B, where rather than weaving it was more like throwing balls of yarn in random directions while laughing maniacally. I kid you not, it was that bad.

Continue reading “The how to, and how not to, guide to interviewing for the Australian Public Service (3)”

Not-so-serious Sunday 49: Diatom Art

By Kelly

It’s been such a long time since I posted a ‘tangentially related to geoscience’ post, but after seeing this clip I just couldn’t resist. Enjoy!

Continue reading “Not-so-serious Sunday 49: Diatom Art”

The how to, and how not to, guide to interviewing for the Australian Public Service (2)

By Kelly

Last week I started talking through the process of applying for positions in the Australian Public Service Graduate Programs. To recap, I covered some considerations for addressing the selection criteria. I applied to three departments; Department of A, Department of B and Geosciences Australia. All three had selection criteria, with the first two also requiring a written test, then all three a panel interview. In my opinion I did really poorly on the two written tests, partly because I was very used to writing in a different style and partly because I was losing the plot. As far as the interviews go I interviewed really well for two departments and the other SO badly that I actually started laughing part way through…In my defence I had finished writing my thesis at 2am and that particularly interview was at 10am, however even so I was such a loose cannon I’m surprised they didn’t have security escort me out. And herein lies the ‘how not to’ part of the post 🙂

Continue reading “The how to, and how not to, guide to interviewing for the Australian Public Service (2)”

The how to, and how not to, guide to interviewing for the Australian Public Service (1)

By Kelly


First, I must apologise for the delay in getting this post up. My brain appears to have softened post submission…. However I do appreciate those who ‘liked’ the fact the advice page was empty!

There are two questions on every PhD’s mind toward the end, first, will this ever end, and second, what on earth will I do next? Unfortunately the latter needs to be thought about during the former, so when all your energy should be focussed on getting over the finish line, more often you are writing endless job applications. Here in Australia one job option includes applying for the Public Service Graduate Programs. Due to our current government’s lack of faith in the merit of scientific research the Public Service is one of the few options with long-term security*. And so I ran the gauntlet for three different departments, lets call them Dept A, Dept B and Geoscience Australia. I did a great job on two of these, and a rather shocking job on another…hence the how to….and how not to.

Continue reading “The how to, and how not to, guide to interviewing for the Australian Public Service (1)”

Meet the scientists…Who? Me?

One very good scientist and four dressing the part

By Kelly

Just recently I was given a healthy reminder that some stereotypes are really hard to break. I am very open about the fact that I was always interested in science, however when I hit 16 I was more interested in being cool. Unfortunately I had no role models that were cool scientists which led me to make some decisions that would lead me away from science* for over a decade**. And so during my time at the Research School of Earth Sciences I have gladly been involved with the university’s Equity and Diversity Unit, that most recently included participating in their ‘Who are scientists?’ workshop that was held for 14 year olds from regional school along the coast.

The 8 representative ‘scientists’ were jumbled in with other staff from our coastal campus, and when singled out the 120 kids were asked to stand if they thought that person was a scientist. Of 120, guess how many stood for me……

Continue reading “Meet the scientists…Who? Me?”

My favourite megafauna; a tribute to Dippy and Dusty

By Kelly

If you haven’t been following my last few posts, I have been discussing my adventures post PhD submission that include participating in a camel expedition into the Simpson Desert (see Gallery). I was lucky enough to be joining the party in charge of investigating megafauna fossils first sighted in 2007. Now in 2014, the scientific party, a bunch of hangers-on (including myself) and 18 camels were off to finally retrieve said fossil, and prepare it for transport to Flinders University for further study. What made this particularly exciting was the species was yet to be identified, and therefore we did not know whether we were collecting a giant wombat-like creature, the Diprotodon, or the giant emu-like creature, Genyornis. But before we could even think about retrieving the fossilised megafauna, we had to get our contemporary megafauna to agree to take us. And trust me, at times it really did feel like a UN style negotiation!

Continue reading “My favourite megafauna; a tribute to Dippy and Dusty”

Walking with purpose

By Kelly

To continue on from my last post, I am regaling you all with stories of my thesis submission. As Evan pointed out, having a hard deadline is really important because you could go on refining the document for years, for a life time in fact. My carrot at the end of a stick four years long was the opportunity to participate in the Simpson Desert Paleontological Survey. The site was so remote that the only way we could access it….was by walking in with camels. I ask you, who wouldn’t stay up until all hours, forget to include both their acknowledgements page and to reference their own paper, as well as missing a typo in the final sentence*, for such an opportunity? Not me, that is for certain.

I’ll talk more about the dig in next week’s post, this week I’d like to focus on the trek, on the camels, and losing yourself to both. Today, we are walking with purpose.

Continue reading “Walking with purpose”

‘F’ is for Finished

By Kelly images-1

It has been so very long since I wrote a blog post I barely know where to start. In this instance, I feel compelled start at the end…


The first article I ever posted was called ‘M’ is for Midterm and finally, two and a half years later, I get to write ‘F’ is for Finished! I have learned so many things since that first post, about blogging, about research, probably most importantly about deep-sea coral (that was* after all my PhD topic) and an AWFUL lot about myself; some things that I shall carry forward and a few things that I shall gladly leave behind. The whole process of doing a PhD is often described as a roller coaster, which was most definitely the case for me. The extreme highs were coupled to some rather uncomfortable lows. So perhaps I was naive to think that the ride ended on the day of submission, and I was not entirely prepared for how strange it would be to put my feet back on the ground. Like the astronaut returning from space readjusting to earth’s gravity, I discovered on my own re entry, that perspective on Planet PhD was so different to that on Planet Earth that I needed some time to learn how to walk again.

I’ll save my survival tips for another post, although I will say that Evan pretty much covered most of them in PhD: Epilogue. What I’d like to tell you about is the incredibly surreal period that culminates in the days leading up to (my) submission, and in my next post, the days that follow **.

Continue reading “‘F’ is for Finished”

Thesis Bootcamp: 0-10,000 in 48 hours

By Kelly

Sometimes it feels impossible to wade through all the email that floods in to your inbox everyday; the journal alerts, department emails, university emails, human resources updates etc., etc. I’m sure a lot of you, like myself, hit delete before reading half of them. Well a couple of months ago, as I hunched over my desk, glaring at the empty screen wondering why I couldn’t will Chapter 4 of my thesis to write itself, an email appeared advertising a THESIS BOOTCAMP being put on by the wonderful folks at the Research Skills Training Unit. If I’m honest I was probably procrastinating and reading anything that meant I could put off writing.

Howeverparticipating in the Thesis Bootcamp was a pivotal moment in my PhD. Perhaps THE moment when I realised I was actually going to finish.

Continue reading “Thesis Bootcamp: 0-10,000 in 48 hours”

A year in the life

race_finishline_jpg_280x280_crop_q95 copy
Okay so that is not me breaking the ribbon, i’m somewhere in the back, but man i’m close!

By Kelly

Just like Evan, I too once contributed regularly to the blog and then…disappeared in to the final stages of writing up. I had hoped, like many before me, that the end of the year would herald the end of my PhD, but alas, I shall be returning to you all next year. This year I finished in the lab, I then went back in to the lab and took on an extra half PhD (nice one Kelly), I submittted some chapters, others I didn’t finish, I attended the worst conference of my life,  I have just had my abstract accepted to what might very well be the best, I stopped blogging, I started a business, I applied for my first proper job, I lost sleep over things I shouldn’t have, and won some awards I should. I’ve been busy, but not quite busy enough to finish. Sigh. Continue reading “A year in the life”

Time for change

Schematic of the life of a blogging PhD. Source:

By Kelly

It’s the end of the week, the near end of a season, and it’s time to spring clean a little. As leaves senesce and fall off the trees…so do bloggers. OnCirculation has been going strong for well over a year now, but many of our regular bloggers, including myself, are transitioning into ‘finishing students’. The words, when they come, need to be put to theses and papers for at least the next little while. But the last thing any of us want is for the joys of Earth Science to be taken from our regular readers. And so, we as a group, have decided to change our format a little, to ease the workload, and ensure OnCirculation’s longevity. We will be posting three times a week from here on in (Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday) and will bring in some new voices to this space. We hope that this new format will allow a new quality of post to emerge, things that have been pondered upon a little more, that can be communicated with a renewed sense of enthusiasm.

Continue reading “Time for change”

Not-so-serious Sunday 48: Ring of Fire

By Kelly

Although it’s in the news again, this is not the Pacific Ring of Fire. Instead I’m here to say that there is more to the Pilbara than just what is in the ground. Look what happens above. 

I  hope you have enjoyed your weekend.


Seminars, seminars and more seminars

By Kelly Unknown

Part of the PhD experience is that we attend as many seminars as we can to broaden our horizons, which I sometimes find hard because I’m having enough troubles keeping on top of my own subject. Or on top of this blog for that matter, as this post went up for an hour when I hadn’t finished writing it (sorry folks). So I shall be honest at the risk of reprimand from my panel….I often don’t go if it’s not climate, coral, oceannographic, environment or biology focused. Oh come on that covers a lot!

However, this week I have not one but two seminars from researchers at the University of Arizona that I am really looking forward to attending. If you happen to be at the ANU then you might be interested in attending. First up, actually it’s tomorrow afternoon, Dr Jonathon Overpeck will be speaking on “Assessing Future Drought and Megadrought Risk” and then on Friday at 4pm we have Dr Julia Cole with Climate Variability in the Tropical Pacific: Beyond El Niño?”. I have attached the abstracts below, and hope to see everyone there!

Continue reading “Seminars, seminars and more seminars”

Chris Hadfield-Bowie; a Space Oddity

By Kelly

Normally I might put a piece like this as a ‘Not-so-serious-Sunday‘ post. But Chris Hadfield‘s recent recording from his studio in space is worth featuring mid week.  His rendition of David Bowie’s ‘Space Oddity’ has gone viral, with even the original singer, the legendary chameleon eyed Daved Bowie, describing the cover as ‘possibly the most poignant version of the song ever created.‘ Quite possibly.

Yesterday Chris Hadfild arrived home to planet Earth after 146 days in space, where the social media outlet Twitter has made him the most famous astronaut since Neil Armstrong.

Continue reading “Chris Hadfield-Bowie; a Space Oddity”

How to write a thesis with a short attention span

I had two Siamese cats growing up and one looked a lot like this, perhaps that is why I can’t stop laughing…

By Kelly

What? Oh right yes, how to write a thesis with a limited attention span. I’ve spent the last four months running around like I’ve stolen something. I’ve been multi-tasking somewhat precariously, with the flurry of activity only hindering actual progress on a handful of occasions. (I don’t want to talk about loading the wrong standard on three separate occasions, while trying to find out why my standardized values were wrong). But the hard work has paid off and I have more data than I presently know what to do with*.

After being in such a frenzy though I’m finding it a little difficult to sit at my desk and write all day. I’ve grown accustomed to 10-12 hour days but they involved a variety of activity, some completely mindless, like weighing out the wrong standard over and over again. As it turns out, I can only focus for 90 minutes at a stretch, and then my mind starts to wander. And if I can manage four such sessions in one day, then there is cause for celebration. Continue reading “How to write a thesis with a short attention span”

Not-so-Serious Sunday 47: Star Wars in 60 seconds

By Kelly

When life starts getting just a little too hectic, Speedrun animation has the solution to all your entertainment needs. Your favourite movies in 60 seconds.

and for the Matrix …I love the dancing in the nightclub… Continue reading “Not-so-Serious Sunday 47: Star Wars in 60 seconds”

Geoscience Australia’s Top GeoShot photography competition – Exposed to the Elements

By Kelly GA

News just in from the folks at Geoscience Australia is that their Top GeoShot photography competition is now open.

Geoscience Australia is looking for a collection of photographs that capture the essence of Earth science. The image can be anything from an unusual land formation, a link to our dynamic planet or even your favourite landscape. We are encouraging entrants to be as creative as possible when choosing subject matter as Earth science is all around us and we interact with it every day.

Entries for the 2013 Top GeoShot photo competition close on 23 September.  Please see attached flyer for further information and competition terms and conditions.  Continue reading “Geoscience Australia’s Top GeoShot photography competition – Exposed to the Elements”

Investigating the Investigator

By Kelly


One of the major draw cards for the Earth Sciences comes from the tantalizing prospect of field work. And for marine scientists, this couldn’t be more exciting than when field work involves a trip on a research vessel; an excursion we affectionately call going on a “cruise”*. I have not had the pleasure of sailing onboard Australia’s RV Southern Surveyor and opportunity is fading fast with the Research Vessel’s imminent decommissioning.

Instead, the Australian marine science community will set forth into our watery future aboard the RV Investigator, which in similar fashion to its namesake will be able to circumnavigate our great continent, survive battering by fierce storms and  potentially be required to serve for ~70 years. But it’s not the capabilities that the two Investigators share that have the oceanographers amongst us all aquiver, but the technological modifications that ???????????????????????????????distinguish them. Not least the fact it has its very own blog, there is also talk of winged keels, dual polarisation weather radar and ‘work’ boats straight from the set of Baywatch (okay so they are orange, other than that they have nothing in common with Baywatch).
Continue reading “Investigating the Investigator”

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