Search

OnCirculation

Category

PhD Life

Guest Post: PhD hacks

This post was written by PhD candidates Hannah Carle (RSB) and Lauren Bezzina (RSPhys). It was originally published at https://rockdocpress.wordpress.com/2021/11/03/phd-hacks/


Doing a PhD is bloody hard. The academic challenge is immense, but so is the personal one. 

2019 survey by Nature showed that more than a third of PhD students seek help for anxiety or depression, but the incidence of poor mental health is likely close to double this number. Poor mental health is difficult and it impacts research productivity and our engagement as students.

But to get the best set of advice together, I have teamed up this month with a fellow PhD student Lauren Bezzina, who has spent four years getting the balance right. Below are 8 tips and tricks we have curated together to help other PhD students operate at the top of their game. 

Continue reading “Guest Post: PhD hacks”

Silica School 2021

Kelly-Anne Lawler & Riteshma Devi are PhD Students at RSES and are attending this years online Silica School.


Silicon is the second most abundant element in the earths crust (after oxygen) and is found in rocks, soils and biota. We (Riteshma and Kelly) work with diatoms and radiolarians (microscopic siliceous plankton) in our PhD studies, and wanted to learn more about silica – so we are participating in a four-week online Silica School “Silica: from stardust to the living world”.

Continue reading “Silica School 2021”

Teaching during my PhD

Yamila Cajal is a PhD candidate in the Experimental Petrology group at the Research School of Earth Science (RSES), ANU. Her current research investigates the geochemistry of the Platinum Group Elements (PGE) applied to the prediction of copper-gold fertility in mountain belts.


The first time I had the chance to apply for a tutor position at university, I was halfway through my undergraduate degree at the Universidad de Concepcion (Chile). At that point, I had no idea what it was going to be like, or if I was going to like it or not, but I decided to give it a try. I am very grateful for this experience because it made me discover my passion for teaching and after that, I continued working as a tutor every time I had the opportunity. Even after graduating, when I was working in mining, I did not lose any opportunity to participate in outreach activities with the community, bringing rocks to local schools and talking to the students about what geology was.

Continue reading “Teaching during my PhD”

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”

RSES Recommends: Books, Part 2

Many people will spend their August under ‘stay at home’ orders due to Covid-19, and many more are choosing to spend more time at home than they usually would, just as a precaution. Time at home, especially in the cold winter weather, is often spent reading books – so for those of you looking for new reading material, here are some new book recommendations!

The following books were brought to my attention by RSES colleagues after our first On Circulation book recommendation post.

By Kelly-Anne Lawler.

Continue reading “RSES Recommends: Books, Part 2”

Bullet journalling your PhD

Tharika Liyanage (she/her) is a PhD candidate in the Paleobiogeochemistry group at RSES. She’s super curious about the early evolution of life and searches for fossilised molecules in ancient sediments to learn about microbial life in the distant past. In her spare time, you’ll find her at Questacon working as a science communicator or in her kitchen trying to figure out the best chocolate chip cookie recipe. You can find her on Twitter @thaliyanage.


During my PhD, I had to write regular reports to keep track of project progress. I struggled to write the first couple because when I flicked back through my lab book and calendar, I felt like I had done so little each day and achieved nothing over several months! In reality, I had been doing lots of little incremental things but I didn’t have a record of it. So that’s when I came across the Bullet Journal method.

Continue reading “Bullet journalling your PhD”

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?”

Science on film: The Wave

Kelly-Anne Lawler is a PhD candidate studying Southern Ocean palaeoclimate. So far, her only experience of Norway has been a bank holiday long weekend spent in Oslo.


The Wave is a Norwegian disaster film, set in the beautiful Geiranger Fjord. The hero of the day is Kristian the geologist – need I say more on an Earth Science blog!

Continue reading “Science on film: The Wave”

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.

Continue reading “Getting the most out of a virtual-conference”

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”

RSES Recommends: Books, Part 1

Looking for something to read that isn’t directly related to your own scientific work? Try some of the books recommended by RSES PhD students and complied by Kelly-Anne Lawler.


Two books that should be on everyone’s reading list (these books are definitely not just for scientists!) are Bad Science by Ben Goldacre, and Weapons of Math Destruction by Cathy O’Neil. Bad Science deals with the, well, bad science, that occurs in industries as varied as pharmaceuticals (he has written an entire book on this topic – Bad Pharma), the beauty industry, education and homeopathy. According to Ben Goldacre himself it is a ‘book about the misuse of science by quacks, journalists, and big pharmaceutical companies’.

Continue reading “RSES Recommends: Books, Part 1”

Iceland – geological wonderland

Monika Misztela is a PhD candidate in the Experimental Petrology group at RSES. She is currently involved in a project about the Platinum Group Element geochemistry and fertility of magma systems.


Iceland is a small country in the North Atlantic Ocean with a population of about 365 000 people and over twice as many sheep. The country of fire and ice, trolls, whales, puffins, wild horses, mushrooms, northern lights, waterfalls, glaciers, volcanoes, lava flows, geysers and plate tectonics. For me, Iceland is one of the most beautiful places I have ever visited. I had a chance to spend there three weeks, soon after the Eyjafjallajökull volcano eruption in 2010. As an undergrad student, this trip taught me more in 3 weeks than general geology course in the whole year. Having such a big impact on me, I would like to share some of the trip’s highlights with you.

Continue reading “Iceland – geological wonderland”

Tidy Tuesday for earth scientists: A treasure trove of datasets to practice coding and data visualisation

Kelly-Anne Lawler is a PhD candidate in the Palaeoenvironments group and is one of the few people at RSES who prefers R to Python (if there are more of you out there, get in touch)!

What is Tidy Tuesday?

Each Tuesday, the R4DS Online Learning Community posts a raw dataset on their Github site, along with an article or chart relating to the data. The intention is that we (scientists, coding enthusiasts, data visualisation fans) can use the datasets to explore, wrangle, and create data visualisations using R software, or any other coding language that we like! So even if you prefer to use something like Python or Matlab, these datasets are an interesting way to practise your data wrangling and visualisation skills, especially if you don’t have any data of your own to work with yet.

Continue reading “Tidy Tuesday for earth scientists: A treasure trove of datasets to practice coding and data visualisation”

Adventure in the Andes

Yamila Cajal is a PhD candidate in the Experimental Petrology group at RSES, ANU. Her current research investigates the geochemistry of the Platinum Group Elements (PGE) applied to the prediction of copper-gold fertility in mountain belts.


About a year ago, I was sitting in my desk in Canberra, trying to plan a fieldwork to the Andes of Central Chile. The area I wanted to visit is located in the eastern part of the Maule Region, which is only suitable for performing fieldwork during summer due to the alpine climate and high altitudes. Planning this fieldtrip was quite challenging because the area of study is located in a not very accessible zone (actually, in the middle of nowhere). 

Continue reading “Adventure in the Andes”

Overcommitting during a PhD

Jess Hargreaves is a PhD candidate at RSES working with the Palaeoenvironments group.

“I’ve screwed up and I’ve overcommitted, and its typical of me” Robert Metcalfe.

Overcommitment. It is a word that is familiar to most people, but often ignored. The ‘busyness’ nature of academia means that often overcommitment is normal. Most academics are over-achievers, and have this idea that we can do everything, everywhere and all at the same time! If you are like me, you will have an ever expanding list of things to do, and normally no wiggle room to shorten this – and no time to complete it all! This list is not only PhD work, but also outreach, organisational, committee meetings, writing blogs etc. and finding time to complete all of this can be a challenge. Don’t mistake this for someone forcing me to do everything though, I am often just a bit too enthusiastic and bite off more than I can chew.

Continue reading “Overcommitting during a PhD”

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.

Continue reading “Conferences in the time of COVID-19”

Simple image classification with neural networks

1 October 2020

Matthias Scheiter is a PhD candidate in the Seismology & Mathematical Geophysics group.

In many fields of science, machine learning has become increasingly popular over the last decade. This is mainly due to the development of more powerful computers and the growing amount of scientific data. Neural networks are one of the most popular machine learning tools, and in this blog post I will give a short introduction of them, based on a simple example.

Continue reading “Simple image classification with neural networks”

Conferences in the time of COVID-19

Part 1: Organising a virtual conference

24 September 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.

For a while now, debate has existed on the topic of virtual conferences. Until recently, the argument for moving large international conferences online was to cut down on their significant travel-related carbon emissions.

Now, thanks to a global pandemic, not only is international travel out of the question, so too are gatherings or meetings with more than a few people.

Continue reading “Conferences in the time of COVID-19”

Website Powered by WordPress.com.

Up ↑