Huge Start to 2021 - An Exciting Recap

The Adrift Lab team is celebrating a tremendous start to 2021. So many activities and wins, we couldn’t keep up with individual news posts. First, let’s start with a summary of what our graduate students have been up to:

Megan (PhD candidate)

Lillian (PhD candidate)

  • After completing her Honours with Adrift Lab in 2020, Lill officially re-joined our team in Feb 2021 as a PhD candidate. She jumped straight in by submitting a grant application in her 1st week, participating in an important stakeholder meeting, and completing 2 days of online systematic review training.

Catarina (PhD candidate)

  • Submitted her 1st data chapter to Environmental Pollution. A draft of her 2nd chapter is nearly complete and we could not be more excited!

Harrison (Honours candidate)

  • Won a UTAS Dean’s Summer Scholarship. In February, he presented results of the analysis completed during this scholarship and won the Best Poster Award.

Harrison's research poster

  • Won a research grant from the Pacific Seabird Group. This is his 3rd research grant for his Honours project after also securing funding from the Atlantic Seabird Group and BirdLife Tasmania.
  • Secured a highly coveted undergraduate teaching position at the School of Natural Sciences.

Jacqui (recent MSc graduate)

  • Submitted two papers from her thesis (wow!), both of which have already been accepted for publication. We were particularly thrilled to receive a very personalized and positive statement from the Editor commenting on the quality of one of the papers and acknowledging our efforts to address the reviewer’s comments.
  • Awarded a prestigious PhD scholarship to study penguin ecology at the University of St Andrews in Scotland
  • Presented both of her MSc thesis chapters at the 2021 Pacific Seabird Group Conference and was awarded the Best Student Poster prize.

Jacqui's research poster

Emma (recent Honours graduate)

  • Her 1st paper on debris on Henderson Island has been accepted for publication in Marine Pollution Bulletin

So, that’s five student papers submitted/published plus two poster prizes and four research grants. A huge amount of work (and success) in the first two months of 2021. CONGRATULATIONS! As always, this is a team effort and we appreciate the hard work, dedication, and support/mentoring everyone has put in. You should be incredibly proud (we certainly are).

And the good news doesn’t end there:

The Adrift Lab team recently secured significant research support from the Pure Ocean Fund. These funds will support seabird-microplastics research during the upcoming 2021 field season on Lord Howe Island. After a huge amount of effort, we also submitted an application for ARC Discovery funding (nearly 100 pages, phew) – fingers crossed for a positive outcome later this year.

four wheel drive on dirt road

Submitting an ARC Discovery application while on ‘holiday’ in remote Western Australia required a lot of work and and some very frantic trips to random fuel stations so that Jenn could access wifi. While we often laughed at the bizarre nature of the situation, we strongly recommended this be avoided in the future as it was immensely stressful (resulted from our holidays being cancelled twice due to COVID-19 travel bans). Incredibly grateful to the UTAS Research Office for their patience and understanding during this trying time - couldn’t have done it without you!

Australian Hall of Fame swimmer Lynton Mortensen successfully completed the world-first circumnavigation swim of Lord Howe Island on 14 February. The ~30 km swim took just over 12 hours and involved no less than 14 (gorgeous) Galapagos whaler sharks who popped by to say ‘hello’. Huge thanks to Lynton & the LHI community, especially Jack & Cindy Shick from Sea To Summit Expeditions. Through Lynton’s hard work and generosity, and activities and donations in support of our #Dayof30 events, the team raised more than $14,850 for seabird-plastics research on Lord Howe Island, woo hoo!

Lynton Mortensen swimming at Lord Howe Island

The image above shows Lynton on the final stretch through the lagoon, surrounded by members of the Lord Howe Island community there to lend support and witness this moment in history.

We’re grateful for the opportunity to spend two weeks working alongside the Tjaltjraak Indigenous Rangers in Esperance. It was incredible to assist with sea country and cultural surveys, exchanging stories and knowledge on topics ranging from bushfires to invasive weeds on remote islands.

Jennifer Lavers with the Tjaltjraak Rangers

And last but not least, Jennifer and Andrew were thrilled to be reunited with plastic pollution warrior Jack Anderson who they first met on the Cocos (Keeling) Islands in 2019.

Jennifer with Jack and WA plastic pollution team

Over the past two years, Jack and his family have convinced their local schools to eliminate single-use plastic cutlery in canteens and incorporate beach clean-ups into community service hours. Over the next few months, Jack and his family will receive hands-on training from some fabulous folks – we can’t wait to see photos and hear how much data is being generated.

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