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From Melbourne to Europe, and back again

This year I was lucky enough traverse the globe to the land of tea to work on my PhD for six month under an Endeavour Research Fellowship!

I started my journey at the end of February, arriving in London in the midst of a snowstorm affectionately called the Beast from the East. My first stop was the Space for Nature symposium at the Zoological Society of London, where experts came together to discuss the future plan for conserving nature through protected areas.

Mathematical Bridge, Cambridge

Next I travelled to Cambridge, where I was stationed at the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) with Rebecca Miller, the Red List of Ecosystems Programme Officer. This was a fantastic opportunity to gain a little insight into the inner workings of the world’s largest environmental network and meet the wonderful, dedicated people driving the organisation.

While often cold and rainy, Cambridge is a little city brimming with science history! I had a drink in the pub where Watson and Crick revealed the structure of DNA, rode my bike almost daily past Charles Darwin’s dorm room at Christ’s College, and spotted the one and only Sir David Attenborough

Charles Darwin,
Natural History Museum, London

After three months in Cambridge, I packed by bags again and travelled to London to the offices of Imperial College London (which are conveniently close to the Natural History Museum). There I worked with the brilliant Professor Mark Burgman, a fellow Aussie, and the Director of the Centre for Environmental Policy. 

Lake Geneva, Gland, Switzerland

While the rest of the world stopped to watch the world cup, I was busy flying to Gland, Switzerland for the week. Here I was joined by the Red List of Ecosystems steering committee as they descended on IUCN head quarters for their annual strategic planning meeting. The team consists of experts from around the world, including my PhD supervisor Emily Nicholson! As the week progressed I learned all about the great work being done, and the future plans for the Red List of Ecosystems. I also had the opportunity to present my research to the team and at a Red List of Ecosystems Training Workshop run by the IUCN.

Pitt Rivers Museum, Oxford 

Once arriving back in London it was straight over to Oxford for the Interdisciplinary Conservation Network workshop. Read all about the workshop here.

My last few months in London flew by with surprising hot, sunny weather and a storm of meetings. I got the chance to discuss my research and get valuable feedback from the top experts, including people from the Zoological Society of London, University College London, University of Oxford and the United Nations Environment Program – World Conservation Monitoring Centre (UNEP-WCMC).

Before long I was packing my bags and saying goodbye to my new friends and colleagues, but keen to return!

Check back soon for all the details on my research during my trip 🙂 

Hyde Park, London

Visiting Oxford: Interdisciplinary Conservation Network (ICN) Workshop 2018

Recently several member of my research group, the Conservation Science Lab, were lucky enough to travel to Oxford for a workshop! My fellow lab mate, Simone Stevenson, wrote about our trip. Here’s a snippet of her fantastic article!

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The Interdisciplinary Conservation Network (ICN) is a collaboration between research groups to hold workshops for PhD students and early career researchers (ECRs).  This year, the Deakin Conservation Science Lab joined Oxford’s Interdisciplinary Centre for Conservation Science (ICCS) and Sterling Conservation Science as an ICN organising partner.  Lab members Kate Watermeyer and Jess Rowland participated on the organising committee, Emily Nicholson as a mentor and Simone Stevenson as a participant.

The workshop kick-starts a collaborative research exercise which ideally concludes in a publication authored by the participants.  For many attendees, this is their first experience in developing research ideas in a workshop format.  Over the course of two days, we worked in groups to develop a paper concept and plan, supported by senior academic mentors.  The result was a unique combination of hands-on learning and real outcomes, both in terms of publication but also in building ongoing networks with peers.

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Members of the Conservation Science Lab at the workshop (l to r): Emily Nicholson, me, Kate Watermeyer, Simone Stevenson.

Check out our research lab website [here] for the full article!

New paper: selecting indicators for risk assessment

The first chapter of my PhD has just been published in Conservation Biology! Here’s a snippet of a blog post I wrote about the paper for our lab website. Also check out the article I wrote about it for the IUCN RLE website.

Reference: Rowland, J.A., Nicholson, E., Murray, N.J., Keith, D.A., Lester, R.E. and Bland, L.M., 2018. Selecting and applying indicators of ecosystem collapse for risk assessmentsConservation Biology, in press.

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Ecologists and managers carry out risk assessments to inform how to best monitor and manage ecosystems. Risk assessments can identify areas or aspects of ecosystems that are at risk of degradation or collapse, by measuring change in variables that reflect vital parts of the ecosystem – known as indicators. Despite risk assessments being widely applied, there is little guidance on selecting and using indicators in a consistent, and transparent way to ensure assessments are reliable and repeatable.

Jess Rowland, along colleagues from our research group and collaborators, reviewed ecological studies and risk assessments that applied the IUCN Red List of Ecosystems (RLE) in marine and terrestrial ecosystems to understand the strengths and shortcomings in the selection and use of indicators. In particular, we were interested in how indicators were selected, and which parts of ecosystems they reported on, specifically change in area of ecosystems, in abiotic aspects (such as annual temperature or precipitation) and in biotic components (such as abundance of key native species or invasive species)…

Full post here

Rufous Whistler

Rufous Whistler (Photo credit: Mark Gillow via Flickr.)

Head of School HDR Research Award!

This week I was awarded the Deakin University Faculty of Science, Engineering and Built Environment Head of School HDR Research Award for a postgraduate student for 2017!!! A big thanks to my amazing supervisor Emily Nicholson for nominating me!

Last year was a very busy and productive year for me, as I was going into the second year of my PhD. The highlights for me were submitting the first chapter of my PhD (which has just been accepted into Conservation Biology), winning the SCBO award for Best Student paper (check out my interview here), and finding out I had been awarded an Endeavour Research Fellowship!

I’m excited to see what 2018 will bring 🙂

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Australian Endeavour Research Fellowship

At the end of last year I was lucky enough to be awarded an Australian Government Endeavour Research Fellowship!

This fellowship gives me the chance to spend up to six months working on my PhD overseas. My trip will start up in March hosted by Rebecca Miller, IUCN Red List of Ecosystems Programme Officer based at the Cambridge Conservation Initiative (in the David Attenborough building!!!), University of Cambridge. After Cambridge I’ll travel down to London to work with Prof. Mark Burgman, Director of Imperial College London’s Centre for Environmental Policy and Chair in Risk Analysis and Environmental Policy.

During my fellowship I will be working on developing and testing a set of biodiversity indicators based on the IUCN Red list of Ecosystems database to measure the risk of ecosystem collapse globally, and quantify trends in the change to ecosystem area and health.

Check back here for updates on my adventures in the UK over the next six months 🙂

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Photo Credit: University of Cambridge/ llee_wu via Flickr