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I recently returned from this year’s ICPR conference held in Maastricht in the Netherlands. The photosynthesis congress is held every four years and hosts researchers involved in all aspects of photosynthesis research. In what was the largest poster room I have ever seen, I was lucky enough to present a poster on understanding the regulation of photosynthesis during sun-flecks. I was also lucky enough to present two talks on solar induced fluorescence (SIF) at both the main conference and a satellite meeting held in Essex the week prior.
The 3 minute thesis competition is where students have to explain their project in 3 minutes with just one slide and no props. It is a national competition and starts off with Faculty heats. Rhys Wyber's very short talk was called "LIFTing photosynthesis to new heights" and he won against stiff competition across the SMAH Faculty. We look forward to similar success in the university finals. Go Rhys!
On Wednesday we celebrated four graduands. Dr Mel Waterman and Dr Johanna Turnbull were awarded their PhDs. Professor Bob Furbank became Dr Dr Bob. He was awarded an Honorary Doctor of Science. In his inspiring graduation speech he told the graduands how important it was to try and work in an area which you love. I certainly agree with that sentiment. He also talked about the important part played by mentors, peers and of course serendipity.
We had a very interesting meeting yesterday to discuss connections between the work Rhys Wyber and Barry are doing at the leaf level, Zbynek at the canopy level and satellite measurements. The question is how can we bridge the gap between these scales to help inform measurements of global productivity and carbon dioxide in the atmosphere.
It has been a busy month. PhD Student Beat Keller visited us from Germany bringing the new Forschungszentrum Jülich LIFT for Rhys to try out. Then we got new stronger light emitting diodes (LEDs) for our instrument so Rhys and Beat installed these. We can know measure fluoresence over bigger areas of canopy. So Rhys is pretty happy. You can see them working in the dark here.
Months of getting equipment ready have finally cumulated in 10 days field work at the scenic Summerland House Farm. Prof Barry Osmond (pictured) and I spent ten days in the field trying to understand photosynthesis in both the inner and outer canopies of Avocado trees. We were running all our equipment from four large car batteries which we charged overnight and lugged out to our field site each day. During the ten day campaign we were met with everything from clear summer days to golf ball sized hail and we often found ourselves rushing to the field site to ensure none of our equipment got wet. Overall though a successful field campaign with lots of promising data collected and a big thankyou to all the welcoming staff at Summerland Farm House and Alstonville Country Cottages.
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.
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.
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.