News and Updates
WA-OIGC staff Kliti Grice, Alex Holman and Navdeep Dhami have been successful in receiving an ARC LIEFP grant alongside colleagues Morten Allentoft, Benjamin Mullins, Jo McDonald, Aleksey Sadekov and Kathryn Linge.
The ARC grant will fund a project looking at compound specific isotopes of polar organic molecules in complex mixtures.
Australian Academy of Science Visit
Last week the WA-OIGC team had the pleasure of hosting VIP guests from the The Australian Academy of Science at Curtin University where they were able to tour our labs.
We hosted Professor Chennupati Jagadish, AC, President of The Australian Academy of Science, Melissa Abberton, Chief Operating Officer of The Australian Academy of Science, and Australian Academy of Science fellows Prof and former Chief Scientist of WA and FAAS fellow and member of council Prof. Lyn Beazley, FAAS fellow, ARC laureate fellow and member of council Prof. Julian Gale and Prof. Stephen Powles, regional chair of Australian Academy of Science, FAAS and ASTE fellow
From indigenous rock art, to fossils and dinosaurs, the group were able to check out our incredible library of samples on display and hear about the amazing science that many in our team are working on.
Excellence in Teaching Awards
Congrats to Dr Stephen Poropat who received the Curtin University Faculty of Science and Engineering Research Supervisor Award for 2023. Steve has been nominated by students and selected by a panel of student representatives to receive this award.
Runner up at Visualise Your Thesis Competition
Congrats to WA-OIGC PhD student Adele Pentland for scoring 2nd place in the Visualise Your Thesis competition at Curtin University!
Check out her amazing video to hear all about her work with pterosaurs and some of the incredible work she has done so far naming and describing new species, and accidentally discovering a new type of dinosaur!
The visualise your thesis program is an initiative from the University of Melbourne that gives HDR students the opportunity to showcase their research and build essential information and digital literacy skills to effectively communicate complex research to a general audience.
Best Poster at IMOG 2023
WA-OIGC PhD student Luke Brosnan recently scored best student poster at IMOG2023!
His poster “Molecular markers of red bone marrow and marrow adipose tissue and their application in geological samples” is based on his current PhD project work that he is doing with Kliti Grice’s ARC Laureate project.
For National Science Week 2023, WA-OIGC got involved in the Anti-conference! We had a great time with Inspiring Western Australia getting involved and taking the audience back in time to check out some amazing fossil specimens and how geochemistry can be used to study them. Audience members got involved in activities such as
- Trying to put together a dinosaur skull puzzle, which was studied by team members Stephen Poropat and Adele Pentland
- A quiz on alumni Chloe Plet and director Kliti Grice’s work on an exceptionally preserved ichthyosaur vertebra
- Guessing and drawing what one of our fossils might be which was collected and is getting studied by Amy Elson
- Racing to make a molecule out of marshmallows and toothpicks
WA Earth Connections 2023
Our Earth, our future needs to be healthy and sustainable for human-kind and it requires the next generation of diverse scientists with multidisciplinary skills to understand, protect and save it by 2030.
The WA-OIGC team were one of the major sponsors and organisers for the WA Earth Connections event held in collaboration with the Australian Earth Sciences Convention on Friday 30th June 2023. The event presented upper high school students with an opportunity to meet inspiring researchers, hear about fascinating career pathways, do some hands on learning and discover the impact Earth, environment and planetary science has on the world around us.
Learn more about the event at our event page here.
Shark Bay Sampling
5 members of the WA-OIGC, along with 2 members of the TrEnD lab, set off on a 2000 km-round trip to Hamelin Bay, within the world-famous UNESCO heritage site, Shark Bay! Renowned for an exceptional array of stromatolites (the globe’s best), we sampled a mix of microbial mat types, coquina shells, and saline water which was twice as salty as the oceans. Battling the heat, wind, red-backs, and off-road traversing, the group had an amazing time at Hamelin Station visiting the nature sanctuary of Money Mia, and almost being blown off the stunning cliffs of Eagle’s Bluff. Our sampled microbial mats were safely transported back to Curtin University, where they now have a new home within our specially prepared seawater-filled tanks, and are ready to be a part of the microbial growth experiments of the ARC Exceptional Fossilisation Laureate! Stay tuned for more information…
WA-OIGC at DISCOVER
Recently, the WA-OIGC team had a blast at the DISCOVER event held at Curtin University from the 17th to the 19th of January. They had the opportunity to run an exciting Fossil Farm activity for 41 high school students who were keen on STEM. These young students were in year 9 and 10, and they got to experience different areas of science in Curtin’s Faculty of Science and Engineering.
During the activity, Prof. Kliti Grice, Luke Brosnan and Lisa Smith led the students in creating fossil concretions, learning about mass spectrometry, and seeing real-life fossils that are hundreds of millions of years old. They also had the chance to chat Dr. Alex Holman at the Innovator’s Expo, giving them a glimpse into the world of scientific research.
This event was a great opportunity for the students to gain a deeper understanding of science and engineering, and the WAOIGC team had a fantastic time sharing their knowledge and expertise with these bright young minds. We can’t wait to see what the future holds for these budding scientists!
Collaboration with Yasmin Smith
Yasmin Smith is an artist who works in the medium of ceramics, producing installations through a combination of field research, community collaboration and studio work. Her practice explores the history of different environments by sourcing materials in situ to create sculptural forms and ash glazes that reveal unique chemical traces. In recent years she has produced a number of large-scale works exploring the history, ecology and geology of specific sites.
Yasmin and WA OIGC are excited to be embarking on new avenues of collaboration. Yasmin made a recent trip to Curtin University to explore collaborative possibilities. Professor Kliti Grice and others in the team also had the opportunity to visit Yasmin at her studio in Sydney and make a trip to the Museum of Contemporary Art which presents Yasmin’s recent artwork in the Collections Exhibition: Perspectives on place. We look forward to seeing the incredible mix of art and science which will result from this collaboration.
WA-OIGC at the WA Museum
Despite being millions of years old, fossils and dinosaurs still spark the interest of children and adults to this day. WA-OIGC had a great opportunity to be a part of the Dino Lab day at the WA Museum Boorla Bardip on the 16th October. The event celebrated the prehistoric world with a full day of free activities ranging from making amber fossils to talks by experts in their field. With 384 people attending the event across 5 hours, the team was able to show off some exceptionally preserved fossil samples and Chicxulub crater samples. Plenty of families attended the event and visiting children were able to go for a dig in the fossil sand box to find their very own fossil concretion to take home. The team had a great time teaching the general public about all things fossils and dinosaurs.
Professor Kliti Grice named Scientist of the Year
Professor Kliti Grice was announced as Scientist of the Year for 2022 at the WA Premier’s Science Awards.
From providing insights into the mass extinction events that have shaped life, developing the tools to allow further exploration of the Earth’s record of environmental change, to training more than 30 PhD students, this award honours Professor Grice’s remarkable contribution to science.
Adding further to her enduring legacy, Professor Grice is now the University’s first female researcher to take out this prestigious award. Congratulations to Professor Grice!
Field Work in Winton with Australian Age of Dinosaurs Museum
Beneath the dry soil, cattle, and sheep, the plains of outback Queensland contain a rich fossil record – ancient inland seas and floodplains host many different species that called this region home during various stages of the Mesozoic. Hosted by the Australian Age of Dinosaurs Museum in August, Prof. Kliti Grice, Dr Stephen Poropat, Lisa Smith, and Luke Brosnan joined a great crew of volunteer diggers and staff to excavate a 95-million-year-old sauropod at Belmont Station, just outside Winton. During a tour of the Museum and its collection, they also met with founder David Elliott and discussed common goals of the Museum and the WA-OIGC, especially Prof. Grice’s ARC Laureate on exceptional fossil preservation. A 100-million-year-old ichthyosaur jaw in a concretion from the Toolebuc Formation (donated by Karen Corkill) will undergo various organic geochemical analyses very soon!
Field Work in Utah and Wyoming
The wild canyons and bluffs of Utah and Wyoming hide a secret: some of the best fossils in the world, and in August, scientist Amy Elson was lucky enough to visit these ancient super-lake deposits and hunt for fossils as part of the ARC-funded extreme fossilisation Laureate within the WA-OIGC. As part of a successful trip to the Green River Formation, she found 50-million-year-old intact fish with eyes still preserved, along with insects, plants, fossil-bearing concretions, and mammal bones. An extensive series of imaging techniques along with organic and isotopic analysis is planned for these samples, to better understand the past evolution and environments of these creatures!
Ginkgo Trees Planted on Campus
Two baby Ginkgo trees were planted on campus on the North side of building 500 at Curtin University.
The leaves from these trees are being used by Hridya Vijay in her PhD project titled ‘Microbial Fossilization of leaves’.
Gina Lintern is an Advanced Science Honours student who is completing an internship at Leeder consulting.
Supported by The Institute for Geoscience research, Leeder Consulting and WA-OIGC.
WA-OIGC get involved in DISCOVER
The WA-OIGC team got involved in the DISCOVER event that happened at Curtin University from the 12th-14th July by running the Fossil Farm activity for 45 high school students who were interested in STEM.
The students were also able to meet more of the team at the Innvoator’s Expo and chat with some staff and students from the group about the amazing research they are doing.