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Visited Howard Giffiths and Jessica Royles, Plant Sciences, University of Cambridge and colleagues at the British Antarctic Survey (BAS).  I gave a seminar and also attended a fascinating talk on vernalisation by Caroline Dean from the John Innes Centre (Enid MacRobbie Woman in Science Lecture).  At BAS I got very excited about the new reanalysis models for Antarctic climate that John Turner and colleagues are producing.

Recently Melinda and I were invited to give a demonstration at Wollongong’s Sustainable Buildings Research Centre's (SBRC), along with a plethora of other PhD students.

Our demonstration focused around UOW's new Light Induced Fluorescence Transience (LIFT) instrument, which uses pulses of blue light to measure photosynthesis in plants. We set the instrument up to take measurements from the plants growing on the SBRC green wall (many of which were really struggling due to the low light levels). We were thoroughly surprised at the amount of interest from the public and the number of people who came to see the new building.

Hopefully future events like this will help the public engage with scientists and understand its importance.

 

 

We got some excellent news yesterday. Melinda Waterman has been awarded a 2015 Endeavour Fellowship to study Global change impacts on Antarctic mosses. The award will allow to Melinda to work with other moss experts at Portland State University and in Concepción, Chile.  

Friday was my first day as a Distinguished Visiting Fellow at the Institute of Advanced Studies, at the University of Birmingham.  I had a wonderful welcome both from Sue Gilligan and Sarah Jeffery and over lunch with academic staff from the Schools of Geography, Earth and Environmental SciencesBiosciences and Mathematics. The IAS aims to promote interdisciplinary research and it was great to see so many people connecting over lunch.  

Last year in November, our group led by Barry Osmond hosted a LIFT (light induced fluorescence transient) meeting in Wollongong.  The second meeting was held in Germany hosted by the Forschungszentrum Jülich IBG-2: Plant Sciences. The University of Wollongong, HRPPC at CSIRO in Canberra and the Forschungszentrum Jülich are developing protocols for measuring canopy photosynthesis using these new LIFT chlorophyll fluorometers.

Next stop was a 2 day workshop on Innovative optical Tools for proximal sensing of ecophysiological processes (OPTIMISE) in Milan. This was funded by COST which is an intergovernmental framework promoting European Cooperation in Science and Technology, through coordination of nationally-funded research on a European level.

The first scientific destination on this study leave trip in the spring or autumn of 2014 (depending on which hemisphere you might be in) was for a gathereing of polar peatbog scientists, which might be considered rather a niche in the scheme of things, and yet this small concentration of people proved a very good size for an intense and intimate discussion and planning session on the science of arctic and antarctic peat bogs.  

On what felt like one of the hottest days this year, I was joined by my fellow lab members and a few other researchers for the universities first remote control and drone demonstration. I brought along my large hexcopter, my tricopter and a number of other aircraft to demonstrate the potential of these machines for research and other applications.

Prior to the demonstration Melinda Waterman had her first flying lessons on a simulator, followed by some brave first attempts flying a helicopter. No injuries and no crashes and with any luck the tricopter will be flying over Antarctica with the lab at the controls.

Hopefully one of many demonstrations to come!

I was in Canberra in the first week of September for the ARC Grants Meeting and to visit Bob Furbank at CSIRO. Bob was trying out a CSIRO LiDAR on his vineyard as part of his ongoing Plant Phenomics research.

This years SCAR conference proved to be a resounding success (even with a horrid cold trying to infect us all!). The following talks were all completed without a hitch and with many interesting questions from the attending audiences.