It's been an insanely busy term as I'm sure many will appreciate but it's time to share the latest lab news!
Starting with papers I have to say how pleased I am for Olivia who's first paper is now online. She's worked incredibly hard and it's paid off with some really nice findings! The paper outlines how two wheat lines respond to steady or variable water availability under low or high nitrogen. It's one of the first projects to use the drought spotter at the Australian Plant Phenomics Facility at University of Adelaide which automatically waters individual pots based on weight and as frequently as programmed. This paper is soon to be followed with the next set of exciting results! Keep an eye on her! More good stuff to come!
Also on the paper front, our paper describing the use of treasure hunt mobile software for undergraduate education is also now online in Plants People Planet. I'll also be presenting this work at SEB in July and as a poster at Plant Biology in August so do come and chat to me about it!
Excitingly our paper combining microCT root imaging with microdialysis nutrient analysis with Richard Brackin from the University of Queensland is a top 20 paper in Plant Cell and Environment. Thanks to Richard for his help on this project during his visit and thanks to Rank Prize Funds New Lecturer Award for the funding for this work.
The team has also had success recently at the Plant Environmental Physiology Group Early Career Event which was held at Eden Project this May. Magda and Findi both attended, meeting other PhD students and postdocs working in different areas of plant physiology. Magda took home the Poster prize and together with the talk winners wrote a really nice blog about the event. Do follow PEPG on twitter for updates on events (@PEPG_SIG).
Also still on my awesome team: Daisy is currently on work placement with BBC Sky at Night and you can read her articles here. It's a fantastic opportunity as part of her BBSRC DTP studentship but all organised by her! I'm looking forward to hearing all about it when she returns!
The semester has been filled with teaching. I was flattered by some very high teaching scores for my third year class. Equally I was happy with the scores from my first year class which is a large class, a compulsory module for many, and faced some administration challenges at the start of term. Adding to that I'm female and not a professor so I was pleased with teaching scores in line with the school average. To be honest the comments are more useful than any metric and supported my suspicions about things that could be better and those that already work well.
Perhaps one of the most fun teaching activities this semester was the first year plant science revision session. I designed this based on the BBC2 Eggheads gameshow. The lecturers from the module made up the Egghead team and 5 students volunteered to be the challenger team. Just like on BBC2 there are themes (in this case based on the lecture topics) and a series of one-on-one question rounds based on multiple choice questions. The challenger team can choose which academic to take on for each one-on-one round and the winners of each round could join their team for the final general knowledge round in which the teams could confer before answering. To increase audience engagement I added an ask-the-audience option using Mentimeter. I was pleased to see about half the class attended the session (110 in the class) even though it was the only teaching week after Easter before the exams meaning for many that was the only lecture that week.
I was really impressed with the students on the challenger team who all did brilliantly! They won every round and were only stumped on one question in the final round! I also want to acknowledge the academics for participating - it's quite nerve wracking being put on the spot for topics they didn't teach. All in all it was a lot of fun and I hope the students found it a more interesting way to revise - and a way to get hold of any of the academics to answer specific questions before the exam!
Finally the summer is almost here! This conference season I'll be at SEB in Seville and special thanks to ASPB for the Sharon Gray Women's Young Investigator Travel Award to attend ASPB Plant Biology in San Jose - very much looking forward to those.
I'm also super excited to be visiting Erin Sparks for much of the summer. Although we have been Skyping monthly, we have never met in person. To those critical of Twitter - this collaboration is purely a result of the great opportunities that Twitter offers! I'm very much looking forward to working with the rest of her team on physiology and seeing their mechanical field trials in practice! I will do my best to write a science travel blog while away so watch this space over the coming months!
I think that's enough for now! There is a new choose-your-own-adventure story for Eca coming soon so watch out for that in the coming few days!
Hartman T, Lydon SJ, Rasmussen A (2019) Hunting for Answers: Linking lectures with the real world using mobile treasure hunt app Plants People Planet; http://doi.org/10.1002/ppp3.33.
Cousins OH, Garnett TP, Rasmussen A, Mooney SJ, Smernik RJ, Cavagnaro TR (2019) To stress or not to stress: Plant and soil responses to variable water and nitrogen supply. Plant Science. (http://doi.org/10.1016/j.plantsci.2019.05.009)