News archive

News archive

Successes and News

2016 Successes and News

Read about Dominic McAfees Endeavour Award experience overseas!

Last month I returned from a six month research fellowship at the University of Hong Kong’s SWIRE Institute of Marine Science (SWIMS), funded by an Endeavour Australia Cheung Kong Research Fellowship. In stark contrast to the vertigo-inducing vertical concrete jungle, for which Hong Kong is famed, SWIMS is situated at the other extreme of the island. The facility lies at the end of a mostly uninhabited, jungle-clad Peninsula, 40 minutes walk from the nearest bus stop. With the laboratories at the water’s edge looking out at the South China Sea, it is a dramatic setting and one of Hong Kong’s most beautiful spots. Yet turn your head north and you will see the twinkling lights of Kowloon, one of the most densely populated areas in the world, with the evidence of human excess plain to see as debris on the shore. The ceaseless traffic of container ships and relentless fishing fleets busy each night emphasise the extreme pressure this marine environment is under. It’s quite a site, and really quite environmentally sobering.

Despite this intense environmental pressure Hong Kong has a very rich marine biodiversity. It is a magnificent setting to study marine processes with a variety of spatial and temporal environmental gradients, provided by the extreme seasonal variation in temperature, humidity and rainfall. Similar to the east-meets-west cultural clash on land, temperate ocean currents deliver species to Hong Kong waters from the North through winter, while warm tropical currents from the southeast predominate in summer. Certainly on the rocky shoreline there is a rich biodiversity of organisms employing a range of behavioural and physiological approaches to deal with the 54 oC temperature range that the rocky intertidal experiences annually. Investigation of these physiological mechanisms was a major theme in my host supervisor’s lab (Prof Gray Williams), with ocean acidification and marine pollution the other two major themes at SWIMS. Historically, pure ecological research has not been on the agenda in this region, but the times are a changin’ and Hong Kong’s first comprehensive marine biodiversity survey is currently underway.

For me it was a very productive research experience, conducting two original experiments. The first assessed how the interaction strength between oysters and their associated biodiversity changed with the onset of summer on Hong Kong rocky shorelines. This was the first comprehensive survey of biodiversity living among Hong Kong oyster habitat, and will form part of Hong Kong’s biodiversity survey. The second was conducted when I wasn’t melting on the rocky shore; in the seawater aquarium facility at SWIMS. I built an artificial rocky shore habitat that I exposed to different climatic regimes, allowing me to investigate how the orientation and density of oyster habitat will influence the amount of heat stress associated invertebrates will experience as temperatures rise. Long story short, as the climate gets hotter, size (vertical relief) really does matter when trying to beat the heat.

Indeed this was an incredible experience for which I feel extremely privileged.  One of the lasting impressions will be the regular sharing beers around a large dinner table of SWIMS colleagues with the number of nationalities represented typically in the high teens. Never a dull moment. The other impression is how resilient life is given the intense pressure we exert upon it, and how darn lucky we are to live in the Australia with the opportunity to learn from the rest of the world.

Key to Unravelling the Onset of the Antarctic Circumpolar Current on the RV Investigator

by Michael Farmer & Harry West (MRes year 1 students in Earth and Planetary Sciences)

Sunrise on the back deck – one of the perks of the 2am-2pm shift.

In August, we travelled 300km south-east of Hobart on board the RV Investigator for a 5-day trip to the Cascade Seamount on the East Tasman Plateau. The proposal team was led by Joanne Whittaker (UTAS) and included Nathan Daczko (Earth and Planetary Sciences). The goal of the research is to resolve questions relating to the subsidence history of the plateau, the current interpretation of ODP site 1172 and ultimately link these to the onset of the Antarctic Circumpolar Current. Over the five days, samples were collected successfully from six dredges, piston, gravity and Kasten cores, multiple CTD profiles and ongoing bathymetric mapping. Being part of the science team, our main role was to characterise and identify the dredge samples (>750 kg). The cores weren’t opened on the ship. The rocks and cores collected will be used to constrain their age of formation and the nature of the crust and palaeo-environment during the opening of the Tasman Seaway. Overall, good weather, good food and lots of samples resulted in an amazing experience for two MRes students.

Trying to get the sample out of the only successful Kasten corer proved to be a difficult task.

Helping to carry the heavy metal cylinders of the piston corer that protect the PVC encased sediment.

Two Macquarie scientists recognised in Antarctic research ‘wikibomb’

On 24 August the Scientific Committee on Antarctic Research (SCAR) celebrated the achievement of adding 170 women to Wikipedia for their contributions to research in Antarctica. SCAR had invited the community to nominate influential female Antarctic researchers, past and present, in an international effort to increase the presence of female scientists on Wikipedia.

Two Macquarie researchers from the Department of Biological Sciences were recognised: Dr Leanne Armand, for her contributions to marine phytoplankton and palaeoceanography; and Honorary Fellow Dr Patricia Selkirk, who specialises in plant biology and ecology, and is a former recipient of the Australian Antarctic Medal.

Read the full article here.

Macquarie’s Dr Leanne Armand (right) with Geoscience Australia colleagues Dr Alix Post and Dr Jodie Smith, at the SCAR Open Science Conference in Kuala Lumpur. Photo: C Carson, Geoscience Australia.

MQ Marine Grant Success

A/Prof Nathan Daczko, Joanne Whittaker, Rebecca Carey, Howie Scher and Jacqueline Halpin have been successful in attracting ANZIC special post-cruise analytical funding to conduct their study "East Tasman Plateau – key to unravelling the onset of the Antarctic Circumpolar Current: IODP drill site 1172, Leg 189". The team was awarded $20,000, congratulations!

Citizen science oceanography project with Chief Scientist Martin Ostrowski received recognition at highest level! 

The White House Office of Science and Technology unveiled The National Microbiome Initiative, which aims to further advance microbiome science in all its varied forms. IndigoVexpeditions outreach officer Rachelle Jensen was there to outline the case for citizen oceanography for ocean health monitoring. Read all about these fantastic news here.

Grant Success

Dr Linda Armbrecht was accepted as one of very few participant to travel to Antarctica this winter for an Early Career Scientists Advanced Training Program in “Biological Adaptations to Environmental Change”. The program is fully sponsored by the US National Science Foundation and will start from Chile, where the participants will board a US research vessel to head to Palmer Station in Antarctica for 6 weeks.

Dr Linda Armbrecht talks at Women in Science Symposium 2016 at the Australian National Maritime Museum

Linda Armbrecht was invited to speak about marine science and her research at the Women in Science Symposium on this year’s International Women in Science Day. The event was organised by the Australian National Maritime Museum in partnership with the University of New South Wales, and was a great success in encouraging high school girls to look beyond the lab coats and to see the possibilities for careers in science. You can follow the event here.

2015 Successes and News

Dorrit Jacob (EPS) promoted to Professor!

Congratulations Dorrit on your achievement!

TOAST bioinformatics Sydney coming up March 2016!

The Joint Academic Micobiology Series (JAMS) invites to The Omics Analysis Sydney Tutorial (TOAST) 2016! And at the same time, Jon Zehr will be visiting Sydney! Jon is an inspiring marine microbiologist, have a look at his lab's research here.

We will inform you as soon as registrations are open! Until then, here is some preliminary information on the workshop:

Microbiology is undergoing a revolution bought about by advances in next-generation DNA sequencing technology. Researchers are now required to understand an array of bioinformatics principles and tools to interpret the vast amounts of data being generated. Presented by leading Australian & international researchers, TOAST is a 2-day event aimed at postgraduate students and early career postdocs providing in-depth hands on tutorials focusing on:

  • Hands on tutorial: analysing 16S rRNA amplicon data using the QIIME pipeline (
  • Online demonstration of common tools in comparative microbial genomics.
  • Current Advances in Metagenomic analysis.

64bit laptop with 2GB RAM
Installation of VirtualBox

Bring your brain (and a laptop)


What are the minimum computer requirements?

A 64bit computer with a minimum of 2GB of memory and VirtualBox installed.

Where can I down load VirtualBox for my computer system?

Downloads for supported OSes are found here:

Where can I contact the organiser with any questions?

Please email:

Leanne Armand (Biology) and Kelsie Dadd (Earth and Planetary Sciences) on the CSIRO Blog!

Read all about Leanne's and Kelsie's adventures on board the RV Investigator here.

Student and ECR Travel Scholarships 2016 from NCCARF!

The National Adaptation Network for Natural Ecosystems is offering four travel scholarships valued at $500 for students, early career researchers or practitioners to attend conference events in 2016. Read more!

Two ARC Discovery Project Successes for MQMarine Researchers! 

Associate Professor Ian Goodwin; Dr Michael O'Leary; Dr Shari Gallop; Professor Jerry Mitrovica

The project is designed to contribute to answering important questions in climate change: Which polar ice sheets are the most vulnerable to warming? How fast will sea levels rise? What will be the impact on global coasts during the 21st century? The response of polar ice sheets to modest increases in global temperature and the rate of future sea-level rise remains highly uncertain. The project plans to examine the retreat of the polar ice sheets during the last warm interglacial period and the sea-level record archived in the Australian coastal sediments and morphology. It plans to use this unique sea-level signal to fingerprint the ice sheets that contributed the excess meltwater to the oceans and to map the configuration of the southern Australian coast under higher sea levels than present.

Dr Dorrit Jacob; Professor Stephen Eggins; Dr Richard Wirth

Biomineralization pathways in marine calcifyers

Shells and skeletons of marine organisms are important archives of past environmental change. Their reliability
relies on understanding their formation, which differs significantly from inorganic carbonate. This project will
combine innovative nano-analytical and aquaculture methods to develop new mechanism-based models that
improve the reliability of paleoclimate reconstructions and provide new insight into how increasing ocean
temperatures and acidification affect our marine resources.

IODP Award to MQ!

Macquarie University are part of a major consortia of 13 Australian universities, CSIRO and Geoscience Australia who were awarded a $10M ARC Lief grant to continue Australia’s participation in the International Ocean Discovery Program (IODP) for 5 years (2016-2020). The Director of the MQ Marine Research Centre, Prof. Simon George, is the CI from Macquarie University on this grant, which in addition to the $2M pa from ARC, also includes $875K pa from the partner organisations. These funds will enable at least two Australians to sail on each IODP cruise, and provides access to post-cruise funding for Macquarie University’s marine researchers. In the past six years, scientists from Macquarie University have participated in four marine expeditions and several more shore-based research programs.

ANZIC Funding Success!

Stefan Loehr (along with Martin Kennedy, Simon George and Bruce Schaefer) were awarded special ANZIC post-cruise analytical funding in Oct 2015 for a study “Constraining the impact of benthic meiofaunal activity on organic carbon burial in ancient oxygen-depleted sedimentary environments" [using material from ODP Leg 160]” Huiyuan Xu, Earth and Planetary Sciences, has started working on the project already!

Martin Ostrowski

Martin’s new paper published!

Read about microbial biogeography in the Indian Ocean in Martin Ostrowski’s hot-off-the-press article in Nature Scientific reports.

External news and updates

Australian Antarctic Division (AAD)

Read through the latest news and announcements from the AAD here.

Australian Marine National Facility (AMNF) / RV Investigator

Have a look at the latest news and updates from the AMNF here

Keep up to date with the missions of the RV Investigator via the CSIRO/Investigator Blog.

Interested in ship time? Here is the timetable.

Australian Meteorological & Oceanographic Society (AMOS)

The latest news of AMOS can be found here.

The Bulletin can be downloaded here.

Australian Marine Sciences Association (AMSA)

Find the AMSA bulletin here.

And have a look at the latest AMSA e-news here.

Australia-New Zealand Integrated Ocean Drilling Program (IODP) Consortium (ANZIC)

Read the ANZIC IODP bulletins here.

Australia New Zealand Marine Biotechnology Society

Read all about the society and its activities here.

Australian Ocean Data Network (AODN)

Latest News of the AODN can be found here, and all newsletters here.

Australasian Quaternary Association (AQUA)

Have a look at the AQUA website.

Centre for Marine BioInnovation

Have a look at the Centre's website and its news feed.

Fisheries Research & Development Corporation (FRDC)

Find all the news and updates of the FRDC here.

Integrated Marine Observing System (IMOS)

Keep up to date on IMOS activities and have a look at the latest bulletin.

IMOS Marine Matters can be found here.

National Climate Change Adaptation Research Facility (NCCARF) - National Adaptation Network for Natural Ecosystems 

Have a look at the website and the latest newsletter here.

National Marine Science Committee (NMSC)

The National Marine Science Committee (NMSC) met face-to-face in Canberra on 23 March and our meeting report is now available. We welcomed the Marine National Facility, Antarctic Climate and Ecosystems Cooperative Research Centre, and the International Ocean Discovery Program as new members.

A major focus of our meetings continues to be implementation of the eight high level recommendations in the decadal National Marine Science Plan (2015-25). An update was provided on the 2016 National Research Infrastructure Roadmap which will have a big influence on our research vessel fleet and Integrated Marine Observing System (IMOS) priorities. Good discussion was held on (a) marine baselines and long term monitoring, (b) marine system processes and resilience, and (c) science to support decision-making. We are still developing a ‘plan of attack’ for the remaining priorities and expect to give these more emphasis at the next meeting (in July). Access to and use of marine data was a recurrent theme, and NMSC received a report on the Australian Ocean Data Network (AODN). The committee agreed to help strengthen its technical guidance, and to assist in bringing more marine data collections online.

Past Global Changes (PAGES)

Stay up to date and read the latest e-news from PAGES here.

The Scientific Committee on Antarctic Research (SCAR)

Have a look at the SCAR bulletins.

And the latest news!

Sydney Institute of Marine Science (SIMS) 

Read the latest foundation newsletter on the SIMS bulletin board.

The Science and Researcher News can be found here.

Back to the top of this page