2011 News Archive

New coordinator for Marine Science and Management course

Dr Hannah Power has been announced as the new programme coordinator for the postgraduate programme of Marine Science and Management. This brand new programme has its first intake in 2012 and has so far proved to be very popular.
Congratulations Hannah!

Ana Vila-Concejo announced as One Tree Island director

Dr Ana Vila-Concejo has been announced as the new director of the One Tree Island Research Station. Ana takes over from Prof Maria Byrne who will be deputy director for a couple of years while passing on her wealth of knowledge to Ana.
Congratulations Ana!

Chetan Choithani meets the Prime Minister

Chetan Choithani meets Prime Minister Gillard

Chetan (5th from left) and the other Australia-Asia Award winners with Prime Minister Gillard.

Chetan Choithani, PhD candidate in the School of Geosciences visited Parliament House in November 2011 to meet Prime Minister Julia Gillard as part of his Prime Minister’s Australia-Asia Postgraduate Award.
Chetan’s PhD research investigates the impact of migration as a rural livelihood strategy in influencing food and nutritional security outcomes among rural households.

Sydney Research Networks Scheme success


Bill Pritchard, Jeff Neilson and Jody Webster are part of a team that has been successful in the Sydney Research Networks Scheme (SyReNS). The project will establish The Sydney Network on Climate Change and Society which will combine the expertise of Political Science, Historical Studies, Cultural Studies and Human Geography, to address issues within human and natural systems.
Full story here

Clarke Memorial Lecture and cocktail reception


On Tuesday 13th December, Professor John F Dewey delivered the Clarke Memorial Lecture 2011 to a large audience comprised of School of Geosciences alumni, staff, students, and members of the various scientific societies. The lecture was followed by a cocktail reception in the Madsen foyer which was also very well attended.
This was an excellent way to connect with our alumni and friends of the School and to finish off the year in style.

Congratulations to Young Ng


Congratulations also to Young Ng on the official opening of the Hong Kong Geopark of China as a Global Geopark (the highest status possible). The Secretary for the Environment in Hong Kong made special mention of Young’s passion for the HK Geopark, without which he said there would be geological features but no geopark to protect them, when he welcomed guests to the post-launch dinner. This is clearly a major achievement for Hong Kong, and Young’s efforts as part of a team of dedicated people in lobbying, training guides, promoting the geopark, etc. have rightfully been acknowledged.

PhDs awarded


Congratulations to Nathan Wales and Fiona McKenzie who have both been awarded their PhD. Nathan’s thesis is titled ‘Combining Remote Sensing Change Detection and Qualitative Data to Examine Landscape Change in the Context of World Heritage Management’ and Fiona’s is titled ‘Farmer Driven Innovation in Agriculture: Creating Opportunities for Sustainability’. Well done both!

Laura Wollacott wins award


The Geographical Society of NSW held their annual Award Evening on 6 December, 2011. Laura Wollacott was the recipient of the University of Sydney Award. The evening also included the launch of the Geographical Society of NSW’s new website.

New benthic habitat book released


Elaine Baker has edited a book along with Peter Harris (Geoscience Australia) entitled ‘Seafloor Geomorphology as Benthic Habitat’. The book, which is available here, is a very significant contribution to the field of benthic habitat studies which is an important and fast-growing field of study.

Movember mo-rning tea


Movember came to a stylish end on Wednesday morning with a ‘Mo-themed’ mo-rning tea. The School of Geosciences mo-team did a great job, raising $2,298 which will go towards the worthy causes of prostate cancer prevention and depression treatment and awareness for men. Overall, teams within the University raised $17,283 and Australian teams raised a grand total of around $19.5million (second only to the amount raised by Canada). Excellent job everyone!
A big thank you also goes to Olivia Dun who coordinated the Geosciences mo-team and who also baked some delicious mo-shaped biscuits for the mo-rning tea.

Mo-men and mo-lady

Some of the Geosciences mo-men (and mo-lady!) Left to right: Mo-ttijs Smits, Mo-chael Kinsela, Mo-livia Dun, Nic-mo Flament, Chetan Mo-ithani, Mo-gan Yeo

Indian Ocean cocktail party leaves party hats behind


An entertaining piece of geophysical research has been highlighted on the sydney.edu.au news page. The research, carried out by PhD candidate Ana Gibbons, Prof Dietmar Müller and colleagues from IfM-GEOMAR Leibniz Institute of Marine Sciences, Germany, has determined that the separation of continents was not a neat process and that “small fragments of deep, gooey continental rocks managed to get separated, lost, buried and then drawn out underneath the Indian Ocean”.

Read the full story here
Read the Nature Geoscience paper here

Jeff Neilson and Bill Pritchard co-host international workshop


On the 1-2 December, Jeff Neilson and Bill Pritchard will be co-hosting an International Workshop in Singapore on “Value Chains, Production Networks, and the Geographies of Development: Emerging Challenges and Future Agenda”. The workshop has been funded through the University’s International Project Development Fund (IPDF).
You can read more about Bill and Jeff's projects here

Congratulations to Sam Clarke


Congratulations to Samantha Clarke who has been awarded an AIG Student Bursary. Along with the bursary, Sam was invited to present some of her work at the Sydney Mineral Exploration Group's AIG student night on Thursday 24th November.
You can read about Sam's presentation to SMEDGE here
You can read about Sam's PhD work here

Integrated Ocean Drilling Program Proposal Evalution Panel


Jody Webster will next week attend the first meeting of the new IODP Proposal Evaluation Panel in San Francisco. This meeting evaluates and ranks proposals for drilling. More details and terms of reference can be found here

Stories of Australian Science


Two EarthByte projects have been featured in the 'Stories of Australian Science' publication for 2011. Kara Matthews' microplates project is featured and the GPlates software itself is also highlighted.
Stories of Australian Science is a publication developed by Science in Public with the intention to highlight interesting and significant scientific work being undertaken by Australian scientists.
Read Stories of Australian Science here (pdf)

'Sunken Islands' discovered off WA coast


Scientists aboard the Southern Surveyor research cruise have made an exciting discovery; two landmasses on the seafloor that could change our understanding of the Gondwana breakup. The discovery of the two undersea landmasses on the Perth Abyssal Plain was made on the three-week research cruise aboard the RV Southern Surveyor, which was possible due to a successful application by Dr Jo Whittaker. Dr Simon Williams was the Chief Scientist on board the cruise. More information about the cruise can be found here and media surrounding the discovery is below.

Some of the media coverage associated with the discovery:
World of Today (radio)
University of Sydney news
ABC News
Herald Sun
Daily Telegraph
Courier Mail

Geosciences Alumna wins Environment Minister’s 2011 Young Environmentalist of the Year


Congratulations to Lindsay Souter who has been awarded the Environment Minister’s 2011 Young Environmentalist of the Year for her work on sustainable energy.
Lindsay, who did Honours in geography has also worked with the AMRC and has done tutoring for a number of School of Geosciences units of study.
See this story on the Sydney University website for more information about Lindsay and her sustainable energy initiative.

Anna Rose, the 2009 winner of the same prize was also a former Sydney geography student.

Jeff Neilson on people smuggling


Jeff Neilson has published an opinion article on TripleJ's 'The Drum'. The article examines the issue of people smuggling.
Read the whole article here

ARC grant successes


Many congratulations to Dr Kurt Iveson and Dr Jody Webster who were both successful in the recent round of ARC Discovery Project grants.
Kurt’s project, titled ‘The politics of location: location-aware mobile media and urban governance’ will examine the implications of new location-aware mobile media technologies for the governance of cities.
Jody’s project, titled ‘Geomorphological development of coral reefs, southern Great Barrier Reef: an integrated record of Holocene palaeoecology and palaeoclimate from cores’ will examine how the Great Barrier Reef has responded or may respond to predicted environmental change and/or degradation.
The EarthByte group was also successful in two multi-Chief Investigator Linkage Infrastructure, Equipment and Facilities grant submissions.
Kurt, Jody, and the EarthByte groups’ success continues an excellent record for the School in ARC Grant funding.
Congratulations Kurt, Jody and Earthbyte!
More information about the ARC Grants (including complete lists of all grants awarded) can be found here.

EarthByte research highlighted in 'Nature Geoscience'


EarthByte research into the tilting of the Australian continent toward the northeast over the past 50 million years has been featured in the ‘Nature Geoscience’ research highlights section.
Read the article here

RV Southern Surveyor Surveyor blog


As part of the RV Southern Surveyor research cruise that is currently happening over off the WA coast, Aedon Talsma and Nathan Butterworth have been submitting some very entertaining blog entries. These are being put together to form the ‘Deep-Sea Discoveries’ blog.
Head over to Deep-Sea Discoveries and have a read! (You can leave a comment as well if you feel the urge!)

Centenary of Mawson's Antarctic Expedition


December 2nd marked 100 years since School of Geosciences alumnus Sir Douglas Mawson set out on his Antarctic expedition. Mawson would come close to death during his time in Antarctica, surviving only to find that the ship Aurora had left without him and he would have to endure a wait of almost a year to be rescued.
To mark the event, the Sydney Morning Herald has published a very interesting article about Mawson and his legacy which you can read here.

RV Southern Surveyor success


Congratulations to Maria Seton and her team who have been successful in a bid for ~$1M in ship time on the Southern Surveyor, the Australian Marine National Facility. Maria and her team will investigate the ‘Tectonic framework for the easternmost Coral Sea and northern extent of the Lord Howe hotspot’ during a ~3-week long cruise in October/November 2012.
Tom Hubble was also successful in his proposal for ship time aboard the Southern Surveyor in 2012/13. Tom and his team will be investigating submarine landslides on the coast of northern New South Wales and southern Queensland, specifically their geomechanical characteristics, timing and triggers.
The School of Geosciences has a strong history of success in submissions for ship time aboard the RV Southern Surveyor and it is a great reflection of the strength of the School’s research that two proposals for ship time were successful in this latest round.
This week also saw the departure of four members of the School Geosciences on the research cruise to the Perth Abyssal Plain aboard the RV Southern Surveyor. This voyage is the result of a proposal submitted by Dr Jo Whittaker and will investigate the nature of several submerged marine features off the coast od Western Australia.

Ocean Technology Group visiting scholar


As part of the Ocean Technology Group’s ongoing collaboration with the Acoustics Institute of the Chinese Academy of Sciences, Dr Jeff Tian is visiting the school for two months. He is developing the capability of the Sydney Harbour Observatory to provide in real time the underwater sounds in the Harbour near Chowder Bay.
The Sydney Harbour Observatory is developing a prototype buoy system to be deployed at a number of location to sense harbour properties that will be provided to the Harbour model to improve its accuracy. The buoy can be seen undergoing testing at Chowder Bay. From the hydrophone sensor on this buoy the sounds of biological activity, such as eating can be clearly heard. Jeff is examining whether there are preferred feeding times for noisy eaters like sea bed shrimp.
Jeff and his wife will return to Beijing in November after a visit to the University of Sydney by the Institute Head, Professor Chunhua Zhang.

Young Ng keynote speaker


Young Ng will be the keynote speaker at the 3rd Global Geotourism Conference in Oman. Young, who is completing his PhD in the use of geoparks and geotourism in managing China’s geological heritage, will be speaking at the conference in Oman on the 30th October.

Third year students present ideas to council


As part of their practical sessions this year our third year GEOG3521 Sustainable Urban Environment students are investigating car-share schemes as one of a range of sustainable transport solutions in urban environments. Car sharing is part of attempts to foster sustainable behaviours through encouraging people to give up their car dependency. Our students’ research into car share schemes across the world has been presented to representatives from Leichhardt Municipal Council this week as part of efforts to promote collaboration between University and government and to promote ideas about sustainable transport futures.

Politics in the Pub


Bill Pritchard will be part of the panel discussion at ‘Politics in the Pub’ this evening. The topic for discussion is food security.
Politics in the Pub is held every Friday evening from 6 pm at the Gaelic Club, 64 Devonshire St, Surry Hills.

EarthByte projects in the news


Two EarthByte PhD projects have been featured on the ‘Stories of Australian Science’ website. Kara Matthews’ research into mapping the seafloor using GPlates and satellite data was featured along with a story about Sabin Zahirovic’s research about the formation of Tibet and the Himalayas. Both stories are highlighted by some amazing images created by Kara and Sabin.
Read about Kara’s research here
Read about Sabin’s research here

Great Barrier Reef early results paper released


A new paper detailing some of the initial findings from the Integrated Ocean Drilling Program (IODP) Expedition 325 to the Great Barrier Reef has been published in the journal ‘Scientific Drilling’. The article, authored by Yusuke Yokahama, Jody Webster and others examines the timing and causes of deglaciations using analysis of fossil coral reefs.
Read the article here

International working group on public space and diversity


Kurt Iveson is part of a seven-person team that has been funded by the Max Planck Institute for the Study of Religious and Ethnic Diversity to establish an international Working Group on Public Space and Diversity. In a series of meetings over the next three years, this group will consider the forms of migration and mobility, ethnic and cultural affiliation, and religious aspiration that determine how contemporary public spaces are built, regenerated, controlled and experienced. It draws together leading scholars in the field to develop groundbreaking collaborations and publications on this increasingly important area of diversity research (other team members include Prof Setha Low (CUNY), Prof Don Mitchell (Syracuse), and Prof Ash Amin (Cambridge)). The Working Group’s first meeting will take place in Berlin next May.

Towards sustainable cities


This semester, advanced students from both Urban Geography and Cities and Citizenship have been conducting research as part of ‘Research Action Teams’ established by the Sydney Alliance on the issues of public transportation, social inclusion, and community support and health. The Sydney Alliance is a new organisation with brings together over 40 diverse community organisations, unions and religious organisations to advance the common good and achieve a fair, just and sustainable city. Kurt Iveson has established this working relationship with the Alliance, in order to provide opportunities for geography students to gain some experience in using their academic research skills to contribute to the development of solutions to pressing urban problems. Kurt also recently delivered the Alliance’s ‘Call to Action’ on public transport to a packed Sydney Town Hall at its Founding Assembly.

Hawaiian submersible dive program


PhD student Gustavo Hinestrosa has this week travelled to Hawaii to take part in a submersible dive program. The submersible dive program will take place in the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands and is part of the Hawaii Undersea Research Laboratory. The research was made possible by a grant from NOAA (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration). The dive will contribute to the research being conducted by a team including Dr Jody Webster titled ‘Evidence for Miocene and Younger Glacial/Deglacial Climate Variability from Drowned Coral Reefs around Gardner Pinnacles’. The aim of the dive program is to recover evidence from drowned coral reefs that may shed light on the behaviour of coral reefs during periods of climate instability.
More information on the research project is available here and here

Congratulations Stephen Gale


Farewell and best wishes to Stephen Gale who leaves this week to take up the Chair of Geography at the University of the South Pacific in Fiji. We wish him well and hope to keep in touch.

School of Geosciences a driving force behind establishment of a UNESCO Global Geopark in Hong Kong


On 17 September 2011, the UNESCO Global Geoparks Network Bureau formally declared that the Hong Kong Geopark had been accepted as its 87th member of the global network. Young Ng and Phil McManus of the School of Geosciences were the key people in making this possible.
Young started his PHD research in 2005 studying the viability of using geoparks and geotourism as management approaches to conserve valuable geological heritage in China and Hong Kong. Young proposed the establishment of a geopark in Hong Kong in late 2006. He was involved in lobbying, promoting, designing and planning the geopark which was adopted by the Hong Kong Government as a conservation policy in 2008. As a key member of the Hong Kong Geopark Taskforce, Young had arranged meetings for the Hong Kong Geopark Division with the national geopark authority in Beijing which then kicked off the national geopark nomination. By late 2009, Hong Kong had successfully acquired national geopark status before proceeding further to apply for UNESCO global geopark status. Phil, Young’s research supervisor, is an advisor of the Hong Kong Geopark Taskforce.
With the establishment of the Hong Kong Global Geopark, Phil and Young will continue to offer advice to make the geopark one of the best examples of how valuable geological heritage in a densely populated urban environment can be conserved by a geopark and through geotourism.
Young has also received a great deal of publicity associated with his work, appearing for an hour on a radio program with the relevant government minister and in a feature article in a Hong Kong magazine that has a circulation of over 100 000.
Congratulations Young and Phil!
Further information of the accreditation can be obtained from the Hong Kong Government and UNESCO sources.

Climate Change and Migration


John Connell and Olivia Dun once again performed their double act in Asia, this time in the Philippines, where they were both invited discussants at the Asian Development Bank/International Organization for Migration Seminar on ‘Climate Change and Migration’ (Manila, 15-16 September). They talked about the significance of contemporary change in the Mekong Delta and appropriate methodologies for effective data collection.

River Health and Environmental Flow in Asia


Worawan Sukraroek will be presenting opportunities and challenges for implementing environmental flow concepts in the Mekong River Region in the feature session on 'River Health and Environmental Flow in Asia', organized by the International Water Centre (IWC) in Brisbane. The paper Wora will be presenting is a book chapter that has been accepted for publication and will come out on 30th November 2011 titled “Politics and Development in a Transboundary Watershed: The Case of the Lower Mekong Basin”, published by Springer.
Read the abstract

New research project on cocoa sustainability in Indonesia


Congratulations to Dr Jeff Neilson who has been awarded a new 4-year research project funded by ACIAR. The full title of the research project is ‘Improving the sustainability of cocoa production in eastern Indonesia through integrated pest, disease and soil management in an effective extension and policy environment’. The total project budget is $2,074,921, which is shared between La Trobe University, the University of Sydney and 7 collaborating partners in Indonesia.

John Paul College lab experience


Yesterday afternoon, 30 students from John Paul College in Coffs Harbour visited the School for a hands-on university experience. The students spent the afternoon learning about petrology, having a lab tour with Dave Mitchell, examining some thin sections and producing some impressive petrological sketches.
This activity was part of a week of science enrichment for the year 9 class, who travelled to Sydney to visit several scientific institutions, including the Museum of Human Disease, the Observatory and the Australian Museum.

Postgrad websites live

The new marine science and management page went live last week and is looking great. Many thanks to Ana Vila Concejo, Inke Falkner and Trixie Barretto for their hard work in producing the new page.
The spatial information science page has also moved locations and the Environmental Science page will be moving in the coming weeks.

QS rankings remain steady


The University of Sydney has maintained their standing in the QS rankings, with Earth and Marine Sciences being placed equal 17th in the world, and Geography placing 20th. Congratulations everybody!
Earth and Marine Science rankings here
Geography rankings here

Geographers represnt School at conference


Laurence Troy and Mattijs Smits presented last week at the RGS-IBG Annual International Conference 2011 at the Imperial College in London. The conference theme was ‘The Geographical Imagination’.
Laurence presented on “Regeneration through gardening – a case study of City Farm, East Perth” in the session on “Growing New Public Spaces in the City: Community gardening, sustainability, justice and aesthetic connection in urban places (2)” and Mattijs presented on “Using Assemblage Theory to Explain Changing Energy Practices: Examples from Thailand and Laos” in the session on “Energy Transitions”.

Vale Trevor Langford-Smith


Emeritus Professor Trevor Langford-Smith passed away last week. He was a former Head of Geography. A Memorial Service is to be held on 30th September at the Roseville Uniting Church at 2pm.

Dive In!


The University of Sydney Institute of Marine Science (USIMS) invites you to Dive In!
Come along to connect with marine science professional societies, internship and volunteer opportunities and to have a look at the excellent marine science exhibition currently on display.
Speakers include:
Stephen Phipps - Chair of the NSW Centre of AMOS (Australian Meteorological and Oceanographic Society)
Melanie Bishop - President of NSW Branch of AMSA (Australian Marine Science Association)
Georgia Royle - representative of Antipodeans Abroad
Ala Al-Mahaidi & Kenneth Lim - representatives of AIESEC (Association Internationale des Étudiants en Sciences Économiques et Commerciales)
Barbara Mackie - Career development officer at the University of Sydney Careers Centre
Stay for a chat, beer and pizza!
When: 4:00-6.00pm
Where: Foyer of the SciTech Library (Jane Foss Russell Bld. G02)

Women in Science


ARC Future Fellow, Ana Vila Concejo, featured yesterday on the panel at the Women in Science lunchtime seminar. The Women in Science project, or WiSci, is a University of Sydney initiative which has ‘originated from an awareness that, although women are well represented among undergraduate and postgraduate students and even among postdoctoral fellows, they are under-represented among staff in senior academic roles.’ WiSci is open to women and men and staff of all levels are encouraged to participate.
Visit the WiSci Project page for more information

Olivia Dun's research in the news


PhD candidate Olivia Dun’s research into environmental change and migration in the Mekong Delta has featured in a news article in the UK’s Guardian newspaper. The article, titled Vietnam’s rice bowl threatened by rising seas discusses the rising salinity in the Mekong Delta and the impact that this has on the millions living and farming in the region.
Read the article here

Rural Revival


John Connell has been interviewed on ABC Radio about the new book he has co-authored, ‘Rural Revival? Place Marketing, Tree Change and Regional Migration in Australia’.
Listen to the interview here

Successful SyReNS proposals


Bill Pritchard, Phil McManus, Jeff Neilson and Dietmar Müller have been involved in successful (SyReNS) University of Sydney Research Networks Scheme proposals. The proposal of which Bill, Phil and Jeff are a part will deal with the setup of a ‘Sydney Network on a Climate Changed Society’. The proposal submitted by Dietmar and others deals with ‘the science of space [relating to] the properties, dynamics, and evolution of the solar system and humankind’s place therein’.

Land ownership under the microscope


A/Prof Bill Pritchard and his former honours student (2010), Jennifer Broadbent, have had their work featured in articles in the Sydney Morning Herald and The Land. Their work, which focuses on the ownership of land, found that the percentage of land owned by individuals is falling and the percentage of land owned by corporations is rising.
Read the SMH story here