MeriSTEM: On the hunt for your favourite demonstration, location or display of science

Hello! This post is being written by your friendly video producing colleague from J8, Alisha Duncan. If you haven’t met me yet I’m the one who’s often seen traipsing around campus with a backpack and tripod, looking for my next victim presenter to film. I’m producing short educational videos for year 11 and 12 students, based on the work here at ANU. The videos will be used in a flipped classroom setting, so students can have more class time to experiment and get their hands dirty.

The first half of the Earth and Environmental Science videos have already been released to the meriSTEM community and they’re getting rave reviews, with comments like:

‘Brilliant module’
‘I learnt so much!’, and my personal favourite…
‘I like how this module challenges the curriculum descriptor’.

Continue reading “MeriSTEM: On the hunt for your favourite demonstration, location or display of science”

Time to Get #SoMe help navigating online academic life?

In pre-Covid times, building an online academic presence was becoming more important by the year. Blogging and social media are great (and usually free) ways to gain exposure for yourself, your research output, or hopefully both. Sharing your research online has become even more important now that travelling domestically and internationally for conferences, lab visits and field work (all great networking opportunities) is difficult, if not impossible.

Continue reading “Time to Get #SoMe help navigating online academic life?”

From Soup to Slime – Evolution and Revolution

Caleb Bishop is a PhD candidate in the Biogeochemistry group at the Research School of Earth Sciences. His research interests include Precambrian biomarkers, isotope geochemistry and Neoproterozoic paleoenvironments.

Read Part 1 of Caleb’s contribution to On Circulation – Reminiscences of a soupy beginning.

When you look into your family photo album, alright Grandpa might look a little pudgy around the corners, but he can hardly be mistaken for an oversized amoeba. However, science tells us that is precisely what he is (several orders, and perhaps several membranes, removed)! So why the change? What caused the primordial soup to give up its bathtub? And how come my dear Grandma is currently serving me a slice of chocolate cake, and not an oversized Prochlorococcus? Early eukaryotes had quite a job reclaiming the oceans from the well-established bacterial world, but with a bit of help from a freak climatic catastrophe they instated a new world order entirely. This is the story of their glory; a victory that augmented our history, and made you a possibility.

Continue reading “From Soup to Slime – Evolution and Revolution”

Getting the most out of a virtual-conference

Shubham Agrawal is a PhD candidate in the Seismology & Mathematical Geophysics group. You can read more about Shubham’s research on his personal website.

2020 taught us numerous new things and exposed us to uncharted waters. No one could have guessed the 600% increase in the zoom stock prices, or the meteoric rise in sourdough baking, or that it is in fact possible to communicate science without leaving a significant carbon footprint.

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An Amazing Race to begin a PhD at the outbreak of the Pandemic

Stacey Servito Martin is a second year PhD student in the Seismology and Mathematical Geophysics group at RSES. You can find Stacey on LinkedIn.

It’s unusually windy today”, my supervisor remarked as a choppy Lake Burley Griffin came into view from between the trees on Parkes Way. He was driving me from the airport on 20th March 2020 to my quarantine facilities at Ursula Hall in Acton. The gusty conditions also meant that the plane I was on moments before, a nearly empty Qantas QF812, made a turbulent descent into Canberra. I remember thinking, “You made it this far, this tin can better not go down now…..”. Every uneasy flyer will commiserate. But that afternoon the relief I felt far exceeded anything I normally associated with the thump of the landing gear on the tarmac. This time around the relief came from a sense of knowing that my life was going to be okay. I had made it into Australia (for the first time ever) with just hours to spare.

Continue reading “An Amazing Race to begin a PhD at the outbreak of the Pandemic”

An adventure on the Southern Ocean – Part II

Thuany Costa de Lima is a third year PhD student in the Seismology & Mathematical Geophysics group at RSES. Her PhD focuses on investigating the physical properties of the deep Earth structure in the light of seismological tools, from the inner core to the mantle.

In my first post on ‘An adventure on the Southern Ocean’, I talked about the multiple reasons for us to come on this research voyage. Today, I would like to elaborate a bit more on why this is one of the toughest field works a seismologist could ever do, share with you some of the amazing photos of the wildlife we could spot from the boat, and describe the real fun I had while living on a vessel!

Continue reading “An adventure on the Southern Ocean – Part II”

An adventure on the Southern Ocean – Part I

Thuany Costa de Lima is a third year PhD student in the Seismology & Mathematical Geophysics group at RSES. Her PhD focuses on investigating the physical properties of the deep Earth structure in the light of seismological tools, from the inner core to the mantle.

Below 40°S there is no law, and below 50°S there is no God.”

I recently heard this old sailors’ saying for the first time after stepping on-board the Marine National Facility (MNF) Research Vessel (RV) Investigator. I was far away from the Australian mainland, and close to accomplishing a ground-breaking milestone for scientists: using seismology to investigate the 3D structure of the Macquarie Ridge Complex!

Continue reading “An adventure on the Southern Ocean – Part I”

Conferences in the time of COVID-19

Part 2: The StuCon 2020 success story

6 October 2020

Rebecca McGirr is a PhD candidate in the Earth Dynamics group at RSES. Her research involves turning gravity measurements from space into maps of changing surface and groundwater masses on Earth.

My first post on Conferences in the time of Covid-19 covered topics related to the why, how, what and when of the annual RSES Student Conference (StuCon) and online conferencing. I discussed reasons behind why hosting a virtual conference is a worthwhile endeavour while the Covid-19 global pandemic makes the usual conference format undesirable. I also touched on the “how to” of shifting a conference onto an online platform and the organisation that was required for StuCon 2020.

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On Circulation is back in circulation

1 September 2020

Welcome to the revival of the On Circulation blog! This blog is run by PhD candidates currently undertaking research at The Australian National University Research School of Earth Sciences (RSES). We have a team that includes an experimental petrologist, a rock physicist and mathematical geophysicist, two climatologists (modern and palaeo) and two geodesists, as well as a whole school of earth science researchers.

Continue reading “On Circulation is back in circulation”
Featured post

Photos From Our RSES Adventures. Vol. 5.

This week we have some shots from field trips undertaken by PhD, Masters and Undergrad students at RSES! Enjoy.

Continue reading “Photos From Our RSES Adventures. Vol. 5.”

Photos From Our RSES Adventures. Vol. 3.

This week we are sharing a bunch of interesting photos of places and samples from around Australia and the world. Enjoy.

Can You Do This? Mulga, Central Australia

– Associate Professor Hrvoje Tkalčić (Seismology and Mathematical Geophysics)


This camel photo was taken when Armando Arcidiaco (our technical officer) and myself were in the field to retrieve 6 ANU seismic instruments that we installed to monitor the aftershock activity from a large (magnitude 6.1) earthquake that shook central Australia on May 21, 2016. The shot was taken while Armando was driving and I was in a good position to observe the beautiful landscape and nature of Mulga National Park, about 100 km southwest of Uluru. There was a wild excitement in the animals due to an unusually large amount of water (a consequence of La Nina) and thriving vegetation in usually desolate areas.

Continue reading “Photos From Our RSES Adventures. Vol. 3.”

Photos From Our RSES Adventures. Vol. 2.

This week we bring you the Highly Commended images from our inaugural Photography Competition. Well the first three images are, and the last image is an ‘authors pick’! Enjoy.


What We Study

Chert – Jeremy Mole (Undergrad Earth and Marine Science Student)


I took this photo at an outcrop on Melville Point, NSW during the EMSC1008 south coast field trip run by Dr. Andrew Berry in September 2016. It is a picture of a series of cherts, which are fine grained organic sedimentary rocks formed by a process called diagenesis, where siliceous skeletons of marine plankton are dissolved, and the silica re-precipitated from the resulting solution. The chert can be of many colours such as brown, grey, yellow, red and white as seen in the photo. Also featuring in the photo are some well-defined fold structures.

Although it was a cloudy, rainy, wet day, the colours were still so vibrant that I took a couple of photos. Nothing fancy, just low aperture

Continue reading “Photos From Our RSES Adventures. Vol. 2.”

Photos From Our RSES Adventures. Vol.1

As part of our annual Student Conference, this year we held our first ever RSES Photography Competition! Over the coming months we are going to be sharing with you some of these photos, and the stories and science behind them.

This week we start on a high with the winning images from our three categories; Where We Go, Who We Are and What We Study, as well as the overall winner. Enjoy!

Where We Go

Milky Way + Tent – Dr. Jonathan Pownall (ARC DECRA Fellow)


The photo was taken in August 2014 during a trip to Ladakh in the Indian Himalaya with Dr. Marnie Forster.  We were undertaking geological mapping and structural analysis of shear zones related to the exhumation of UHP coesite-bearing eclogites.  One night, camping by Tso Kar lake (4500 m), I opened my tent, and the sky was amazingly clear, and the Milky Way looked pretty special.  The lamp was still on in the kitchen tent… so I balanced my camera on a rock and took a long exposure photo.

Continue reading “Photos From Our RSES Adventures. Vol.1”

Staff vs Student Lawn Bowls

The Research School of Earth Sciences has a long history of pitching the staff against the students in a biannual sporting competition. The staff have dominated in the last few student vs staff sporting competitions, especially cricket, where many of the student team had never bowled a ball or held a bat before. Read more about last year’s cricket match here.

This year strategy overtook tradition and the students challenged the staff to the inaugural student vs staff lawn bowls tournament. There was more participation than ever before with even a few of our youngest coming along to support their parents.

The weather was a sunny 29 degrees as we all made our way down to the RUC. The tension was thick and strategies were forming as the instructor explained the rules of lawn bowls.

Continue reading “Staff vs Student Lawn Bowls”

Part 1: Taking Discrete Samples

This week’s blog post is coming from Jennifer Wurtzel, who is currently on a boat analyzing sediment cores from the ocean floor in the Western Pacific Warm Pool!
I am currently serving as a Physical Properties Specialist on Expedition 363 aboard the JOIDES Resolution. As part of the Phys Props team, I help run instruments that scan our sediment cores for physical characteristics (e.g. density) right as they come on board so that the “Stratigraphic Correlators” can identify patterns in the core, which will be used to guide the coring process.

Continue reading “Part 1: Taking Discrete Samples”

When Science meets Street Art

By Tanja

One of the many events held this year as part of the National Science Week was a collaborative project between scientists and artists. It was called Co-Lab: Science meets Street Art, and it is exactly what it sounds like: scientists and artists pair up, scientists have to explain their project in human terms and artists have to then paint their view of that project on a wall. Exciting, right?! I thought so too.

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Week 38: Wee Jasper

This weeks post is from third year Msci geology exchange student Jesse Zondervan who has been visiting RSES for the last year. This was originally posted on the 10th April on Jesse’s personal blog site.

By Jesse Zondervan

The two week mid-semester break started off with a field trip to Wee Jasper, in the bush of New South Wales. After five days of walking around in a field shirt and hat without phone signal I arrived back in civilization on Wednesday evening. Back in Canberra I spent the rest of my time writing for my assignments and the student newspaper. I also worked on the microscope with Janelle and played some boardgames with the B&G boardgames society.

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Turtles and tap-dancing birds: welcome to an ANU field trip

A field trip takes student blogger Jesse Zondervan to a classroom in paradise on the Great Barrier Reef. This was originally posted on the ANU Science student blog.

By Jesse Zondervan

In a silent group of people, I stand in the dark on a white beach. I listen to sea turtles digging their nests. Torches are not allowed because they may blind the turtles or scare them away to waste their eggs in the sea.

Heron Island is our one-night stopover to One Tree Island, a research island on the Great Barrier Reef, where we’ll be doing a field course for ten days.

Continue reading “Turtles and tap-dancing birds: welcome to an ANU field trip”

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