The University of Queensland, Brisbane, Australia
Welcome to part 2 of my travel blog. For the last month I have been based at The University of Queensland in the lab of Professor Susanne Schmidt conducting an experiment looking at uptake of nitrogen by different root types in maize. The plants grew for 6 weeks either on high N (Fig 1A) or low N (Fig 1B) and then one seminal root and one crown root was fed 15N for 30 minutes after which time the root was rinsed, dried down, weighed, ground, and then a 3 mg sample of each root was sent to UC Davis for 15N quantification. The fresh and dry weights of the remaining root system and shoots were also recorded. The root-to-shoot ratio is in Fig 1C and it’s nice to see the text book response with the high nitrogen-fed plants having more shoot mass than root mass, while the low nitrogen-fed plants were the reverse.
The glasshouse harvest was not trivial with temperatures between 35 and 40°C by 11 am when each day’s work was completed. I have to thank the fantastic team of people in the Schmidt group (Fig 2B) who’s positive attitudes made it not just productive but also a fun experience! In particular I’d like to thank Nicole Robinson and Richard Brackin who are the tireless post-docs in Prof. Schmidt’s team who helped me with every step!
Next part of my journey – Malaysia Campus
Welcome to part one of my travel blog from a great Southern land. Standing at the limit of an endless ocean, stranded like a runaway lost at sea. Well that’s how the song goes! Not so much a runaway lost at sea…rather a runaway happy on another continent!
But back to this trip! Week one was a frustrating week of cutting through red tape to get maize seeds to The University of Queensland in Brisbane, then occupational health and safety training, then getting through to the glasshouse staff that things need to be done THIS week and not next week or the week after (despite all of the space and orders having been booked months ago!). Anyway with a bit of sheer stubbornness I managed to get maize seeds planted and nutrient stock solutions made up! I hear from Richard (one of the wonderful post-docs helping me) that the seedlings are growing well and everything is back on track for measurements in the coming weeks.
At the end of the week I flew to Melbourne for COMBIO which is the annual conference including the Australian Society of Plant Science. I had a bit of time to reconnect with colleagues who have moved to Monash in the trendy alleys filled with street cafes and live music! Such a vibrant city! The plant talks were all good but the best sessions were actually the education sessions. The first of the two sessions was about PhD training and different ways to help PhD students to obtain transferrable skills such as communication or commercialisation experience. The second was about undergraduate education and I was particularly impressed with the different ways to use Moodle and also incorporate facebook groups – in fact when facebook groups were made for courses the academic had 10 fold more questions leading up to the exam (which the other students in the class helped answer) compared to email questions when facebook wasn’t used.
The weekend after COMBIO was a weekend of footy finals – AFL grand final in Melbourne (with the Melbourne team winning), Rugby league final in Sydney (with North Queensland winning), oh and of course the Rugby world cup match between England and Australia – I’m guessing I won’t hear so much about the Cricket anymore!! ;)
After Melbourne I flew to Canberra for the International Society of Root Research meeting – Roots down under where I was joined by friends from all over the world. It was really nice to catch up with some people I hadn’t seed for some time and also get to know new people working in related fields. In particular I enjoyed the much stronger focus on root physiology this time (but of course I’m biased!).
I’m now on my way back to Brisbane for part 2 of my travels. Yesterday’s drive included the stunning vistas that make up the western end of the Blue Mountains, complete with golden wattles and the stringy barked eucalypts. Coming back down to the coast I was caught in two fairly big storms and saw lightning hit both sides of the road with the simultaneous crack of thunder! I can tell you the adrenalin rush that comes from that sound doesn’t wear off for hours! Especially when you then get hit by the back end of the second storm! Anyway I shall leave part one of my travel blog there with a few more lyrics that seem appropriate….
Can't you, can't you hear the thunder?
Then I run then I take cover.