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Satellites provide a key method for measuring properties of the biosphere, atmosphere and hydrosphere on global scales. In particular, in recent years the detection and quantification of solar induced fluorescence (SIF) as a means to quantify plant growth and productivity has been a key goal of both NASA’s OCO-2 mission and the proposed European FLEX mission. However, the processes driving SIF are not fully understood.

Last Wednesday night we had a farewell dinner for Zbyněk Malenovský who is leaving the lab next week. He is going back to Europe for a holiday before starting a new job in the US.  We will all miss him. He has been a great assett to the Antarctic and LIFT research over the past few years.  We are hoping it is au revior and that we will continue to collaborate in the future.

Assessing the impacts of human activity on plants in one of the world’s most remote regions Royal Society of Chemistry Blog on our recent paper on the Impact of hydrocarbons from a diesel fuel on the germination and early growth of subantarctic plants

GK Macoustra, CK King, J Wasley, SA Robinson and DF Jolley. Environ. Sci.: Processes Impacts, 2015, Advance Article DOI: 10.1039/C4EM00680A download here

 

 

 

Last week Melinda Waterman and Johanna Turnbull finished writing their PhD theses and submitted them for examination.  So a big congratulations to both of them for getting through by the deadline.  Writing a book is never easy and that is effectively what they have done. Now we just need to wait and see what the examiners have to say, but in the meantime they are both catching up on sleep and hopefully enjoying having their lives back.

It's been a busy week. Wednesday was the big day. Dr Jessica Bramley-Alves made a flying visit from Singapore to Graduate and to give her final PhD seminar. Jess managed to get history, science and modern culture into her talk on Antarctic moss demonstrating what an inter-disciplinary lot we are. Dr Ari Nugraha also graduated. Ari is an honorary member of the moss team having worked with Mel on moss pigment identification.  

Anna Nydahl recently completed Honours in the Robinson Lab and is now back in Sweden. She tested how sensitive Antarctic moss and algae were to contaminated soil.  Around the Antarctic stations there have been quite a few fuel spills where the diesel used to fuel the stations has accidently leaked into the soil.  The Australian Antarctic Division are cleaning up a number of these sites using innovative remediation techniques.

 

During the first year of their PhD, students have to write a Literature review, produce a project proposal and give a seminar.  Together these are the hoops that need to be jumped through to get confirmed in your PhD program. Rhys did his seminar at the postgrad retreat last year and was so impressive he won the prize for the best 1st year talk. Last week he completed the other two components in excellent style, so congratulations Rhys.

Jessica has been really busy this year, she submitted her thesis at the end of last year and it has been examined so we think she is already Dr Jess, although maybe she needs to graduate first for that to be really official.  Plus then we can get a picture of her in the gown, hood and cap.  In addition, she has a new job at CUGE in Singapore and is busy running environmental projects there.  She has also published a paper from her PhD work and another from some work she did on Macquarie Island before her PhD. So an excellent start to 2015.

 

On the 31st January, multiple helicopter rides transferred us and our camping gear from the beach on Byers Peninsula back on to the Aquiles before heading to our next same-day destination, Deception Island. Another helicopter ride dropped us off to Gabriel de Castilla, the Spanish base on the active volcanic island.

University of Wollongong was chosen as the venue to launch the latest $2 million round of grants from the Australian Biological Resources Study (devoted to funding taxonomic research). It caused a buzz in the School of Biological Sciences with A/Prof. James Wallman assisting in the launch with an excellent and entertaining speech.

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