Senior Professor at University of Wollongong
On November 4th, Melinda and Sharon flew to Chile to work with colleagues at the Universidad de Santiago de Chile (USACH). We are being hosted by Dr Dr. Gustavo E. Zúñiga, Dean of the Faculty. Melinda will be working in the Laboratorio de Fisiología y Biotecnología Vegetal (Plant Physiology and Biotechnology Lab) until February. We worked with Gustavo, Marisol, Tavo and Hans from this group last year in Antarctica. They have been looking after the samples of moss we collected there and Melinda will be extracting compounds from them while she is here.
Last week Melinda Waterman and Johanna Turnbull both gave their final PhD seminars. Years of work on Antarctic mosses condensed into an hour. Now that their theses are submitted they have completed all the requirements for their PhDs and are both just waiting for the examiners comments to come back. November is also when we hold the postgraduate retreat and all the PhD students give their annual seminars, so Rhys Wyber also had to give one. Last year he won the prize for best introductory seminar and this year he was runner up, so he is keeping up the lab tradition of excellent seminars. Well done Rhys, Melinda and Johanna.
This week Kris French and I visited the Burnley Campus at the University of Melbourne to talk to Rebecca Miller, Claire Fuller and Nick Williams about their Green Infrastructure research and to give seminars about our own research. Burnley has a prize winning roof garden (shown here) which incoroporates different substrates (soil substitutes) at different depths.
While I was at the Institute of Advanced Studies, University of Birmingham last year I met Juliet Coastes and Dan Gibbs who also work on mosses. Juliet and I have written a short article on why mosses are so cool which you can read on Ian Street's the Quiet Branches blog.
Hope you learn something new about marvelous moss.
Just back from a visit to Perth, Western Australia for the United Nations Environment Programme Environmental Effects Assessment Panel (UNEP-EEAP). While we were there someone asked if the ozone hole was still there. The answer is very much so. It is predicted to recover by about 2060, but here is what it looked like last week and you can see all of Antarctica beneath it. So as we think about the Paris meeting and what we should do with greenhouse gases it is a useful reminder that we can act together and change things. In the 1980s we regulated CFC and other Ozone Depleting Substances. BUT once you mess with Earth's climate it takes a while to fix. So we need to get on with it.
You might think moss was just something we walk on but think again. Recent graduate Dr Jessica Bramley-Alves has written an article for the public about how we can use mosses to tell us how climates are changing in Antarctica. You can read the article here
We will have more articles for the public coming out this month so watch this space!
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.
This week is science week in Australia and Diana and Zbynek starred in a UOWTV video on our Antarctic research. On Friday our "Game of Antarctic mosses" story was published in the Universities' booklet celebrating 40 years of Research at UOW and Sharon featured in another video to promote the event. On Tuesday, Zbynek left to go for some holiday and to visit colleagues at CESBIO. Meanwhile Sharon met up with Bob Furbank at the High Resolution Plant Phenomics Centre to discuss LIFT research.
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.