2021 Is a Rollercoaster - Time for Another Recap

2021 has been a rollercoaster so far – plenty to celebrate (see one of our recent updates, and below) but also plenty of delays and frustrations, largely associated with the ongoing pandemic and the myriad impacts this has on academic life, as well as our personal lives, mental health – the list goes on, right? We’re often faced with two options: join the chorus of complaints (sometimes it helps to vent, that’s okay) or focus on the positives (sometimes this can appear to trivialise the struggles of others, not our intention!).

While this update is focusing on the many wins our team has recently had, it doesn’t mean we haven’t struggled. Huge permit delays, confusing travel paperwork, the heartache of watching (& trying to support) our international colleagues/family/friends who’ve been in lockdown for nearly a year. Members of our team have also been impacted by significant health issues and financial chaos (due to COVID). As lecturers, watching our students (both undergraduate & graduate) struggle in myriad ways, and in such huge numbers, has been emotionally draining. Kindness is key. As is maintaining a sense of community, something which Adrift Lab is really good at. So, let’s dig in.

Firstly, we’re excited to announce four new team members:

A new Post-doctoral Fellow will be joining Adrift Lab later this year. Precise dates are COVID-dependent, but Aneta was thrilled to be awarded funding though the Americium International Excellence Initiative and brings a wealth of experience working with birds and chemical pollutants.

Two new Honours students (see their statements below) will join Adrift Lab in July. Both will work on microplastics in shorebirds in collaboration with BirdLife Tasmania. Adrift Lab are extremely grateful to an anonymous donor who provided each student with $5000 to cover their personal living expenses while at UTAS!

"I cannot express my gratitude for the kind generosity of the donor and the support from BirdLife Tasmania and my supervisors. I am very excited for the opportunity to be conducting research on microplastic ingestion in shorebirds, which I hope will gain invaluable insight and lasting impacts on their management and conservation"
— Bianca Keys, 2021 IMAS Honours candidate
"Given the current significance and increasing awareness of microplastics in our environment, and the challenges Tasmania’s shorebirds already face, I feel fortunate having the opportunity to contribute to these novel studies and joining the incredible team of researchers in the Adrift Lab"
— Karli Mylius, 2021 IMAS MSc candidate

A 3rd year independent research (KAA308) student, Gabrielle, will also join us in July. As her project is looking at nest debris, PhD student Megan Grant will provide expert knowledge of nest debris through a mentoring role.

Three Adrift students/alumni (Emma, Harrison, & Lillian) have been invited to participate in the Global Biodiversity Festival on 21-23 May 2021. Their virtual seminars will feature seabirds and plastic (of course) - last year’s event included some incredible folks (e.g. Sylvia Earle, Phillipe Cousteau) - we’re THRILLED to have the opportunity to host our science alongside these living legends.

Finally, in order to help new students better understand what life is like within Adrift Lab, some of our alumni have kindly provided testimonials about their experience being with our team. These statements have been added to the “Future Students” tab on the Adrift Lab page (where new students go for information on how to join our lab). The testimonials talk about the various activities we offer as part of Adrift Lab life, including the amazing writing retreats, skills development workshops (eg. graphical abstract design), and Alex’s fantastic statistics advice.

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