National Science Week

Hello all,

I finally got access to this blog and I finally got my pics onto my laptop from the camera, so here’s the update from my second week in Brisbane.

All this week has been National Science Week throughout Australia.  To some this may sound as exciting as national paint drying week, but being the science geek I am, I was super excited.  It’s been a week of presentations, poster sessions and docos (documentaries-they shorten every possible word they can…).  Even better is the fact that here in the Ecosciences Precinct building, where I’m working here in Brisbane, is the federal program CSIRO-where I’m interning (Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization–kind of like our USGS and NOAA put together) and the state agencies DERM (Department of Environmental Resource Management) and DEEDI (Department of Employment, Economic Development and Innovation).  And though these all sound pretty unrelated, it is only the Ecosciences and related sections that are here (ex. DERM-land and water management, office of climate change; DEEDI-commercial fisheries, energy efficiency, etc.).  So part of the science week activities were show and tell sessions of all the different sections here.  With ~1200 people working in the building, it’s pretty much impossible to know what even the folks down the hall are working on, so there were some cool projects to see.  And for me, it was a great opportunity to introduce myself to as many people as I could while trying not to look too desperate while convincing them to hire me……..” So, what do you do? Oh yeah?  What a coincidence! I’m steeped in bowfly control in cattle population research.  Here’s my card….”

The Ecosciences Precinct just opened in December. Beautiful building-all of those panels are actually screens, so there is a ton of natural light. Don't know if it has any official certifications but has implemented MANY green building elements into the design.

One of the courtyards that are built into the building. Best part is that they are actually used! To not take time out and have lunch or a "cuppa" outside or in another public area is taboo.

As far as attending to my internship, I’ve been mostly doing a literature review for my supervisor looking at the ecological effects on the Great Barrier Reef from sediment and nutrient transport from different land uses (livestock pasture, coastal sugar cane plantations, etc.).  I also got to go out last Friday to do some seagrass sampling.  A guy from CSIRO was looking at carbon dioxide and dissolved oxygen levels across seagrass beds.  When he heard that I had done some seagrass work and knew how to handle a boat, he was happy to snag me from the office (however, I never thought moving the steering wheel 4 feet to the right could erase 15 years of trailering experience…).  I also went out on Tuesday to help him test out a new sediment sampler that they were sending up to a project in Kakadu National Forest.  They hadn’t used the sampler before, so we were supposed to figure out how to use it and then shot a little instructional video to send up with the sampler.

The "Tinnie" (i.e. tin boat). At least the steering wheel on the boat is on the right side...

Brisbane waterfront. Hard to imagine that 8 months ago the water was nearly lapping up to the undersides of some of the bridges.

The sediment and nutrient transport review was good to get me started in identifying the some of the issues they are dealing with in terms of their water quality.  I’m still trying to get some interviews lined up with some of the DERM folks who are working on the headwaters of the Murray-Darling Basin.  And I’ve got a meeting set up with a couple of the social scientist here who work with the researchers to bridge the gap between the science and the policy makers.

All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy.  So Wednesday was a city holiday and everybody in Brisbane had the day off.  My friend that I’m staying with and I went up to the Sunshine Coast and I was able to get in a nice little surf session.  The surf was pretty small (for this area) and having not been on a board in about a year and not knowing how the ankle was going to do, I decided to rent a long board and just cruise on the nice long peelers that I could see breaking off the point.  The surf was good and the ankle held up OK and it felt great to be in the water again.  I’m really looking forward to this weekend though as I’m going diving down on the Gold Coast on Saturday.  I’m going to Byron Bay which is a spot that is apparantly supposed to have a good mix of tropicals from the Great Barrier Reef (which is a ways north of us) yet still a good spot to see some bigger pelagic species (for those of you who don’t dive or don’t know fish, that all translates to: tropicals = pretty, pelagic = …, well, exciting!)   I can’t wait!!


The big grin on my face is due to the fact that I didn't yet know how cold the water was...

Sunset at Noosa, Sunshine Coast--I wish my girls were there to enjoy it with me.

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