news archive: January - June 2012

Toraja Fieldwork Blog


School of Geosciences Honours student Felicity Shonk publishes a blog detailing her 8 week ethnographic fieldwork experiences spent living with coffee farmers in a remote village in Tana Toraja, Indonesia. Read about the fieldwork on the Toraja Blog.

Researcher Fiona McKenzie documents innovative farmers


University of Sydney researcher and former Coonamble resident Ms McKenzie's thesis Farmer-driven innovation in agriculture creating opportunities for sustainability, explores innovative sustainability practices around the state. Listen to the ABC Radio interview.

PhD Graduands


Congratulations to Liz Abbey, Robin Branson, Michelle Haron, Fiona McKenzie, Chun Yeong Ng and Nathan Wales who have all recently been conferred with the degree of Doctor of Philosophy in ceremonies on the 18th of May and 15th of June. Congratulations!

Expedition Tibet


Three staff members, Prof. Jonathan Aitchison, Dr. Alan Baxter and Lan Hui, and an honours student, Tom Harvey, have just returned from a very successful 4-week trip to Tibet. The aim of this expedition was to study the collision of India and Asia, which resulted in the formation of the Himalaya. Tom will use the samples collected as part of his honours studies where he will reconstruct the tectonic evolution of the ocean that once lay between these two great continents.

Endeavour Fellow Arrives at Geosciences


Dr. Jun Liu, recipient of a 2012 Australian Endeavour Research Fellowship has recently arrived at the School of Geosciences. During his stay, he will work on a project entitled ”Biotic recovery from Permian-Triassic mass extinction: evidence from the diversification history of Mesozoic marine reptiles”. Welcome Dr. Liu!

Grant Success!


A project involving Dr. Jody Webster from the Geocoastal Research Group, and lead scientist Dr. Andrea Dutton from the University of Florida, has just been approved USD$315,000 in funding from the National Science Foundation in the United States. The project aims to constrain sea-level changes and ice sheet stability during the Last Interglacial period (~130-125 ka) and will involve fieldwork in the Seychelles next year. Congratulations Jody!

Great Barrier Reef Survey


Gustavo Hinestrosa, a PhD student with the Geocoastal Research Group, spent a week aboard the RV Southern Surveyor in early May, investigating whether climate change could extend the Great Barrier Reef southwards. This work, in collaboration with Dr. Robin Beaman from James Cook University, was part of a project entitled “Great Barrier Reef phase shift: Gardner Banks to Gardner Reef to map the shelf off Fraser Island”.

The Value of Water: Water, Values and Society in the Asia Pacific Region


PhD candidate Zoe Ju-Han Wang is attending the Association of Pacific Rim Universities (APRU) Fellows Program 2012 hosted by the National University of Singapore from 28th May to 1st June. The theme of this year’s program is “The Value of Water: Water, Values and Society in the Asia Pacific Region” and Zoe will present her research about environmental NGOs and water resource management in China. This program brings together early career researchers in various disciplines who will be tasked with developing collaborative research with each other. Zoe’s attendance of the program is nominated and sponsored by the University of Sydney.

Richard Claude Mankin Scholarship


Congratulations to Liping Yan who in late February, 2012, was awarded a prestigious Richard Claude Mankin Scholarship for two years to undertake PhD. research on the project – The ethical and cultural correlates of water consumption in a pluralistic society: a case study of the Sydney metropolitan area.

Kurt Iveson delivers keynote lecture at the NSW Commissioner for Children and Young People's Seminar Series


On the 22nd March, Kurt Iveson delivered a keynote lecture to launch the NSW Commissioner for Children and Young People’s Seminar Series on Children, Young People and the Built Environment. This four-part series brings together policy makers and built environment practitioners - architects, landscape architects, planners and developers - to engage with the latest thinking and practice on creating more inclusive environments for children and young people.

Listen to Kurt Iveson's talk “The City as a Playground: Children, Young People and the Right to the City”.

Sands of Time: Dr Ana Vila Concejo in the news!


In 2007, Port Stephen residents worked together with local councils, NSW government departments, an industry partner and the Australian Research Council, to fund a scientific project to find out why their beaches were disappearing. Dr Ana Vila Concejo, project leader and future fellow of the Australian Research Council and senior lecturer at the University of Sydney, shares her team's findings in regards to coastal erosion evident across popular beaches in the Port Stephens area of New South Wales.

Visit the Sydney Morning Herald to read the news article.

University of Sydney researchers receive $1.4m to explore livelihood adaptation opportunities for most vulnerable groups in Laos


Human geographers and international public health experts from the University of Sydney will collaborate on a three year research project aimed at facilitating livelihood adaptation to natural resource pressures in Laos. The $1.4 million research project is being funded by the Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research (ACIAR) through the Mekong Research Group (AMRC), School of Geosciences and the Sydney School of Public Health. The research team includes Philip Hirsch, Yayoi Largerqvist, Natalia Scurrah and Jessica McLean from the Mekong Research Group (AMRC) and Michael Dibley from the Sydney School of Public Health. The project, due to commence in May 2012, will also involve agronomists, resource economists and environmental scientists from the National University of Laos and work with river basin organisations to address key livelihood and environment issues related to hydropower and mining development.

The research project will focus on Nam Ngum watershed, a large catchment in central Laos with a history and on-going experience of livelihood changes associated with large-scale resource development projects, namely hydropower and mining. The research will employ a range of economic, social and health measures to assess wellbeing associated with livelihood adaptation and pilot adaptation options that assist socially disadvantaged groups. By facilitating a social learning process among stakeholders at different levels, the project will build capacity of local, sub-national and national stakeholders to analyse and seek solutions to livelihood issues among vulnerable groups associated with constrained natural resource conditions. The research will also provide valuable lessons for anticipatory natural resource development planning that starts from a livelihood perspective and works within an integrated catchment framework.

Institute for Australian Geographers (IAG) Conference


Bob Fisher, Jo Gillespie and Brian Furze (LaTrobe University), will convene a session at this year’s IAG conference on “Critical Geographical Perspectives on World Heritage” in celebration of the 40th year of the World Heritage Convention.

Venue: Macquarie University.
Dates: 2 – 4 July 2012.
Visit the Institute for Australian Geographers for more details.

Yale University Fellowship


Congratulations to Jo Gillespie who has been invited to undertake a Visiting Fellowship at Yale University this year.
The appointment is through the Macmillan Center for International and Area studies. Jo will work in collaboration with Yale colleagues on human rights implications in World Heritage site management.

Environmental Science Development & Green Roof Policy in Australia and China

Congratulations to our PhD candidate Dong Xing, for his recent interview broadcasted on SBS China Radio in regard to 'Environmental Science Development & Green Roof Policy in Australia and China'.

The interview is available in Mandarin from SBS China.

James Cameron’s Deepsea Challenge


The Deepsea Challenge is an expedition sponsored by the National Geographic, dedicated to exploring the Mariana Trench’s lowest point, the Challenger Deep, which lies 6.83 miles below the ocean surface. Cameron will pilot a single-person sub to the greatest depths of the ocean in the Deepsea Challenger submersible, designed to collect photographs and samples which could ultimately result in groundbreaking discoveries.

Grace Shephard selected to attend 62nd Lindau Nobel Laureate Meeting


Congratulations to Grace Shephard for being selected to participate in the 62nd Lindau Nobel Laureate Meeting, which is dedicated to Physics this year. Only the 550 most qualified Young Researchers can be given the opportunity to enrich and share the unique atmosphere of the Lindau Nobel Laureate Meetings. The annual Lindau Nobel Laureate Meetings provide a globally recognised forum for the transfer of knowledge between generations of scientists...

Lectures of Nobel Laureates reflect current scientific topics and present relevant fields of research of the future. In panel discussions, seminars and during the various events of the social programme, young researchers nominated by a worldwide network of Academic Partners interact with Nobel Laureates. The Meetings of Nobel Laureates in Chemistry, Physiology or Medicine and in Physics have been held since 1951. Every year, between 20 and 25 Nobel Laureates spend a week in the Lake Constance area meeting young international scientists of tomorrow.

The 62nd Lindau Nobel Laureate Meeting is to be held from July 1 to July 6, 2012, in Lindau, Germany. Congratulations Grace!

For more information, please visit their website.

International workshop to be hosted at the School


An IODP workshop on the SW Pacific to be hosted by the University of Sydney has been approved. The workshop, led by Neville Exon, Stephen Gallagher and Maria Seton will see ~70 scientists from around the world come to USyd for a 4 day workshop between 9-12 October this year.