Kia ora koutou,
We are now in the final days of 2018 and anticipating a relaxing summer break and a chance to wind down and forget about work for a while. One of the aspects of life here in NZ that I have always appreciated is the healthy respect for the summer break and many academics take 3-4 weeks off over this period. I’ll certainly be out of here in a few days and will make the most of time at home with friends and whanau.
This last year has been fulfilling, challenging and exciting. We at WEG have made a great deal of progress in our research and have worked with groups around the world on various questions relating to caves, climate, ecosystems and environments. We’ve welcomed new members to the group, Amanda, Brittany, Thomas and Amir, and taken on new challenges through externally funded research programmes.
This year I have taught lectures and field classes for 2nd Year Geochemistry, convened a session at EGU and co-organised an Ocean Acidification workshop at Waikato. Brittany and I both visited the Godwin Laboratory for Palaeoclimate at the University of Cambridge, and I also had the chance to visit the Lancaster Environment Centre (LEC) meeting Hao Zhang and Peter Wynn as well as James and Lisa Baldini at Durham University.
The visit to Cambridge was incredibly productive and stimulating and I can honestly say this was a stand-out career wise! Cambridge is inspiring both because of its vibrancy (heaps going on, things to do), but also because of the rich history (and history of science) which has soaked into the bones of the place.
Since, returning to NZ, I have conducted fieldwork in the Cook Islands with my Australian colleagues, and we have hosted Bedartha Goswami, Hauke Kraemer, Seb Breitenbach and Ola Kwiecien visiting us through project QUEST. Earlier in the year we had the pleasure of hosting Inken Hiedke (also through QUEST) and David Dominguez-Villar. It’s impossible to do these scientific exchanges justice here, but again these have contributed to an incredibly dynamic workplace. Sometimes it has been hard to keep up, but in every case those visiting have brought something valuable and made a big contribution to our science and positive working culture.
Over the year, we have made great progress toward the goals of project QUEST, including development of the new controlled atmosphere enclosure (GeoMIC; Geochemistry Minerals Isotopes Climate) and a cave dripwater autosampler. These initiatives have been enabled by incredible technical support here at Waikato, in particular thanks in large part to Peter Jarman, Rahul Jangali and Huw Alderman.
The above gives just a snapshot of an incredibly busy and diverse year for WEG. As we look to 2019, I am very excited by the prospect of getting stuck into our research on cadmium (MBIE funded: From Agrisystems to Ecosystems) with Mahdiyeh Salmanzadeh returning to WEG to complete a Postdoc. Equally exciting is the prospect of beginning our first experiments with GeoMIC (for Ingrid Lindemann’s MSc research), testing our cave auto-sampler and starting work on speleothem fluid inclusion water isotopes with Brittany Ward. We also will continue our work with the Godwin lab on Yucatan speleothems.
All in all, we have a great deal to look forward to and to be thankful for.