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Australian gold at International Earth Science Olympiad

Rebecca Whittle, a Year 11 student from Abbotsleigh high school in Sydney, has won a gold medal at the International Earth Science Olympiad in Thailand, securing Australia’s best gold medal performance at the UNESCO-sanctioned International Science Olympiads since 2009.

Rebecca competed against more than 140 students from 38 countries to win gold, finishing in the top 10 per cent of Earth Science students in the world.

The Australian International Earth Science Olympiad 2019 Team

Her medal is the second gold for Australia at this year’s International Science Olympiads, following a gold-medal performance by Sydney Grammar School student Hugo McCahon-Boersma at the International Physics Olympiad in July.    

“This double gold achievement is our best performance at the International Science Olympiads since 2009. Our teams have put in the hard yards and earned this success,” says Ruth Carr, Executive Director of Australian Science Innovations.

Rebecca was part of a four-member team representing Australia at the International Earth Science Olympiad.  The three other students won silver medals, putting them in the top 20 per cent of students and delivering Australia’s best overall performance at the competition since Australia began sending a national team in 2015.

The International Earth Science Olympiad competition involved two theory exams and four practical tests covering all aspects of Earth systems science and planetary astronomy. Topics included the geology of planetary bodies, the formation of rocks, rock and mineral identification, sea-level rise processes and the geochemistry of groundwater.   

Rose Zhang from Narrabundah College in Canberra was also part of a team awarded a silver medal in the International Team Field Investigation that she completed with students from other countries. This part of the competition emphasises international collaboration and teamwork.  

“We are very proud of our teams’ achievements this year that are a testament to their hard work and the Australian Science Olympiads program’s ability to nurture Australia’s top science students’ passion and talent for science,” says Carr.

The Australian students spent a year in exams and intensive training before competing on the international stage. They outperformed 6,000 other students from more than 280 schools in the qualifying exams, making a shortlist of 91  t to attend a two-week summer school at the Australian National University in preparation for the International Science Olympiad competitions.

The Australian Science Olympiad program is run by Australian Science Innovations and is funded through the Australian Government’s National Innovation and Science Agenda, with support from the Australian National University.

The Australian team results at the 2018 International Science Olympiads are as follows:

Learn more about the Australian Science Olympiad Competition at: www.asi.edu.au

International Earth Science Olympiad
8-17 August, Kanchanaburi, Thailand

Rebecca WhittleAbbotsleighNSWGold
Wayne WongJames Ruse Agricultural High SchoolNSWSilver
Rose ZhangNarrabundah CollegeACTSilver
Kim ZhengJames Ruse Agricultural High SchoolNSWSilver

Congratulations to all members of the Australian team for their great achievements.

National PhD Positions in Groundwater – Expressions of Interest

Australian citizens; or permanent residents of Australia; or New Zealand citizens may apply

Expressions of interest by Friday, 31st August 2018

The National Centre for Groundwater Research and Training (NCGRT) is seeking Expressions of Interest from the brightest minds from a wide range of science, engineering and social science disciplines to undertake a variety of groundwater PhDs across the country. NCGRT headquartered at Flinders University has 13 University partners who are in the top echelons of university rankings for water resources in the world. The PhD research positions offer a once in a lifetime opportunity to learn and work alongside some of the worlds most revered groundwater scholars and renowned influential thinkers. Candidates will conduct innovative research addressing the most pressing contemporary issues in groundwater science, management and policy.

All prospective PhD applicants who are approved for candidature must meet the eligibility requirements to apply for an RTP scholarship, or an equivalent at their nominated home university. Generous top-up scholarships may be available for suitable projects/students and will be negotiated with successful RTP scholarship recipients.

Research areas of interest: Hydrodynamics and Modelling of Groundwater Systems, Surface water –Groundwater Interactions, Groundwater-Vegetation- Groundwater Dependent Ecosystems, Geochemistry, Integrating Socioeconomics and Decision Support, Characterisation of Aquifers and Aquitards etc.

Applicants are required to fill out this EOI form along with a covering letter, academic transcript sand CV to assist us in matching you to your preferred area of interest and state location / University. Applications to be sent to enquiries@groundwater.com.au by COB Friday 31st August 2018. Shortlist notification by COB Friday 28 September 2018.

Eligibility

Awards will normally only be available to those who:

  • Are Australian citizens;  or permanent residents of Australia; or New Zealand citizens;
  • Have completed at least four years of tertiary education studies at a high level of achievement and have an appropriate Honours 1 (or equivalent) undergraduate degree;
  • Are enrolling as full-time students (part-time awards are available in certain circumstances);
  • Will commence or are continuing a Masters degree by research or a Doctorate by research;
  • Have had their candidature accepted in the area in which they propose to undertake their studies.

This award will not be available to students who have held a Commonwealth Government-funded postgraduate research award previously unless it was terminated within three months of it being awarded.

Follow this link to find out more and apply.

Vale Pat Williams

AIG members are advised, with sadness, that Dr Patrick Williams passed away in the UK late last week, following a protracted illness.

Dr Williams (Pat) joined the staff at James Cook University (JCU) in 1989 and continued in a lecturing role until the amalgamation of Earth Science with TESAG around 2007 when he resigned to become a consultant.

He was a major contributor to the Key Centre in Economic Geology, the Predictive Mineral Discovery CRC and the Economic Geology Research Unit (EGRU) team  at JCU. He supervised and mentored  many honours and doctoral students during his academic career, and was much valued in that role. He was also much valued as an academic colleague by this who worked with him – always good council,  supportive of group activities and delivering of the tasks on his plate.

Pat is recognised by his colleagues for a major contribution to undergraduate teaching in mineralogy, petrology and economic geology. Pat developed a strong research interest in mineralization in the Mount Isa Inlier and became a widely acknowledged expert on IOCG deposits, an ongoing interest that he carried into his post-academic consulting life.

Dr Williams will be missed by the economic geology community in Australia and beyond, and his many friends in North Queensland.

Bob Henderson

What is continued professional development and why is it a good thing?

Graduation from university with an Earth science degree represented a major learning milestone that enabled you to begin your geoscience career.  It also represented the start of the next phase in your professional, technical and personal development through continuing development as a professional.

Continuing professional development, or CPD, is work-related learning that should continue throughout your career.  The year in which new professionals enter the workforce is usually a period of intense, on the job learning in a diverse range of areas such as field and mapping skills, sampling, core logging, managing contractors, landowner liaison and mining title management, to name but a few.  University studies provide an essential and solid grounding in geological principles, Earth systems, scientific method and research skills, which must be supplemented by a broad spectrum of new skills that are based on elements of these fields and represent workplace essentials.

In many professions, CPD forms an integral part of a licence to practice.  More professions require a managed and verifiable commitment to CPD than not.  The dominant reason for this this is the perception of public risk associated with practice of the profession in question.  Medical professionals, for example, may be called on to make decisions that could affect someone’s life.  Engineers design and build structures and machines that could create public safety risks or have profound economic consequence if they fail.  Teachers shape the character and skills of young people who will be the backbone of our society in future years.

Geoscientists have the privilege of being self-regulating.  There is no universal requirement for professional registration and licencing of geoscientists in Australia.  This does not, however, diminish the need for, and value of CPD.  It remains one of the key mechanisms by which high standards of professional practice and the relevance and currency of qualifications and experience are maintained.

CPD is frequently described as an investment for both individuals and employers as it involves maintaining enhancing and extending your knowledge expertise and competence.  It is central to the definition of professionalism recognised by the general public, where professionals strive to become leaders, knowledgeable, sources of advice and able to reliably solve problems in their chosen fields, which sets them apart from the rest of the pack.

Formal CPD falls into three broad categories:

  1. formal CPD;
  2. informal work-related CPD; and
  3. activities external to your work that contribute to your CPD.

CPD requires an investment of time, but the cost of CPD does not need to be onerous due to the range of activities that fall into the three categories above.

Join a discussion of CPD and professionalism on the AIG Linkedin Group.

2018 student bursary applications now open!

Closing date for 2018 applications is Friday 3rd August.

The Australian Institute of Geoscientists’ Student Bursary Program was initiated to promote and support geoscience research and education in Australia. The Bursary Program began in 2001 to mark the 20th Anniversary of the Australian Institute of Geoscientists (AIG) and, since then, the AIG has awarded 199 bursaries to geoscience students in Australian universities. In 2018 the AIG is again offering bursaries to Honours, Postgraduate and Third Year geoscience students.

The 2018 Bursary awards, which have values between A$1000 and A$4000, are funded by the AIG, by
the generous sponsorship of the individuals and organisations listed on page 4, and by donations from AIG members to the AIG Geoscience Education Foundation.  Visit this page for more information