Scribbly Gum

Catherine Ross – ecologist and science communicator

PhDone! Finishing my PhD in a pandemic

Well, it’s been an interesting year. Here in Canberra we’ve been surrounded by bushfires and smothered in smoke, hammered by hail, and then the pandemic hit. And in the midst of all that, somehow I finally finished my PhD! I am so proud of this achievement that I’ve been working towards for over five years. But it’s also a pretty difficult time to be graduating, with many universities suffering in the pandemic and thousands of academics losing their jobs.

Continue reading “PhDone! Finishing my PhD in a pandemic”

The upside-down Gum that never grows up

One of my favourite plants is the silver-leaved mountain gum, a rare species of eucalyptus that I recently had the opportunity to see growing wild for the first time. This small, scraggly gum tree might not look like much, but it’s a strange and beautiful plant with some fascinating quirks!

Continue reading “The upside-down Gum that never grows up”

Don’t ask…PhD update

The realisation that my PhD would soon be coming to an end was a bit of a shock. On the whole I’ve really enjoyed the experience, I’ve learned so much and made wonderful friends. To be honest, I don’t really want it to end. But as I get closer to the end the pressure to finish is getting more and more intense, and has made the last few months very stressful. Continue reading “Don’t ask…PhD update”

Bettongs – Australia’s real-life Hobbit?

“In a hole in the ground there lived a hobbit. Not a nasty, dirty, wet hole, filled with the ends of worms and an oozy smell, nor yet a dry, bare, sandy hole with nothing in it to sit down on or to eat: it was a hobbit-hole, and that means comfort.” – JRR Tolkien, The Hobbit

Tolkien’s beloved hobbits are well known for their love of good food, round houses and gardening. But you may not have heard of Australia’s own hairy footed, mushroom loving, green thumbed critters – bettongs!

Continue reading “Bettongs – Australia’s real-life Hobbit?”

How to WIN the Three Minute Thesis! (part 2)

If you haven’t read part 1 yet – please do!

So, I was through to the ANU final of the three minute thesis. Having embarrassed myself at the college competition, I was determined to do it right this time but also terrified it would happen again. The ANU final is held in Llewellyn Hall, in front of an audience of over 1000 people (plus thousands more watching live online!) and six judges – usually a combination of MLAs, local media personalities and academics. The winner receives a $4000 prize, and a place at the Asia-Pacific finals. To say that it was daunting would be a serious understatement. Continue reading “How to WIN the Three Minute Thesis! (part 2)”

How NOT to win the Three Minute Thesis (part 1)

Imagine you’re about to give a speech. You’re standing in front of your friends and colleagues, take a deep breath, and start to talk. You think it’s going fine, but then your mind goes completely blank. The talk you had practised over and over has just disappeared, and you just stand there. It feels like time is ticking away, and all you can think about is the people watching and judging you. Continue reading “How NOT to win the Three Minute Thesis (part 1)”

When nature has other ideas…PhD update

It’s about time I did a bit of an update of where I’m at with my PhD. I’m over the 2.5 year mark, which is pretty terrifying actually, and I’m nearly finished my final season of data collection. It’s quite stressful knowing that so much is riding on the results and hoping that all the hard work pays off. But some things are just out of your control, and that is especially true when you’re working in the real world, outside the controlled conditions of a lab. I’ve had a few mishaps along the way that have caused stress and delays (luckily nothing disastrous!), but that’s all part of working with nature. Continue reading “When nature has other ideas…PhD update”

Managing expectations – the ‘arranged marriage’ between supervisor and student

The relationship between student and supervisor can make the PhD journey a dream or a nightmare, and unfortunately it’s very hard to know how it will go before you start. It’s like an arranged marriage – two people thrown together into a partnership that can last for many years. And much like a marriage, it takes more than just shared interests to make it work.

Continue reading “Managing expectations – the ‘arranged marriage’ between supervisor and student”

Wisdom of the Elders

In my previous post ‘Reading the Classics’ I spoke about the first meeting of the foundations of ecology reading group (FERG) I helped set up at the Fenner School. The group has now been meeting monthly for a year, so it’s about time for an update! Continue reading “Wisdom of the Elders”

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