Interstate adventures

In the last couple of weeks I’ve been fortunate to be working interstate at UWA and WAM (in Perth) and at MV in Melbourne. For those of you who don’t know the acronyms, that is the University of Western Australia, the Western Australian Museum, and Museum Victoria. It’s a great perk of the job being able to travel to visit the specimens (and people) I need to to conduct my research.

At UWA I was working with Jeremy Shaw who helped me to scan a lungfish braincase on their Xraida CT machine (and it turned out beautifully!), and at the WA Museum, Kate Trinajstic and I photographed the new species of Devonian coelacanth from Gogo that we are currently describing.

In Melbourne I got to play with the laser scanner (so fun!) to scan some tetrapod trackways from Genoa River (Victoria), originally described by Warren & Wakefield in 1972. Unlike tomography which I normally use, the laser scanner captures just the surface morphology (shape) of an object, but this was perfect for the fossilised footprints.  These are among some of the earliest preserved trackways made by a backboned animal (vertebrate) over 350 million years ago!

A big thanks to Isaac from Flinders for helping me learn how to use the scanner, and Tim Ziegler from the Melbourne Museum for arranging access to the specimens.

The State of Science in SA

How healthy is the state of science where you live? What’s been achieved thus far and how will the future of STEM (Science, Tech, Engineering & Maths) play out in your state?

These were some of the questions pondered last night at the special forum “The State of Science in SA“. As the current Programme Secretary for the Royal Society of South Australia (RSSA, a membership-based learned society interested in science, with beginnings that can be traced back to 1834), I organised a forum to discuss just that.

The Royal Society SA in conjunction with the Royal Institution of Australia collaborated in a special joint event for their members with the SA Chief Scientist, Professor Caroline McMillen, giving the keynote address. Professor McMillen presented an overview of SA science and its direction for the future. She covered the three pillars of science (talent, translation & innovation, systems & processes).

A panel discussion with experts representing the Natural Sciences, Defence and Aerospace, Health and Medical Science, and Science Communication followed. Many thanks to our panellists for their valuable insights: 

The State of Science 2019
I was honoured to chair the panel discussion. Thanks to all the speakers and RiAus for help in pulling the night together!
  • Sabine Dittman, President of the Royal Society of South Australia
  • Bradley Abraham, Director of The Royal Institution of Australia
  • Cathy Riach, BAE Systems Australia
  • Caroline McMillen, SA Chief Scientist