Scribbly Gum

Catherine Ross scribbles about ecology and PhD life

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”

Dieback revisited

Two years on, the Monaro dieback isn’t getting any better. Is there any hope for this devastated landscape?

Two years ago I started this blog with a 3-part story about my honours work on eucalyptus dieback in the Monaro region of NSW. While I wasn’t able to give a clear answer about what was causing the dieback, my research has sparked a lot of interest in the issue and led to real action being taken to try to restore the affected areas. Continue reading “Dieback revisited”

Extinction – what do you save?

Last week I saw Hannie Rayson’s new play ‘Extinction’ at The Playhouse in Canberra. While I thought it was an excellent play, this is not so much a review as a personal reflection on some of the issues it addressed. Continue reading “Extinction – what do you save?”

PhD life – defeating isolation

I’ve often been told that doing a PhD is the best time of your life, but in reality, the life of a PhD student can be lonely and isolated. With all the pressure to complete within a limited time and publish as much as possible, it’s far too easy to become so focussed on your work that you get to the end of the day and realize you haven’t spoken to another person! It’s hard to find the time to socialize, and when you do the feeling of guilt can be overwhelming. Continue reading “PhD life – defeating isolation”

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