Tuesday, October 30, 2012

So long and thanks for all the thesis: science is a team effort

I submitted my PhD just over a couple of weeks ago (YAY!), have done my final seminar, and now waiting for the examination. It has been a long time in the making, and I am chuffed that I am getting closer to the end of the journey.

Whilst many people say a PhD is something you do alone, in many ways it really is a team effort. Good science is the culmination of many people, many collaborators, and many supporters. Whilst one person may take the lead, there are many people on the front line in the science and behind the scenes that are integral to the outcomes. Contributors to science may include: supervisors and specialists in the field providing advice and direction, funders, industry requiring research, technicians, statisticians, research institution staff, peer reviewers, support and love from friends and family. Everyone who is involved in a researchers life is important in some way. Whether it is a positive (encouragement from someone at a conference) or negative (a harrowing paper review) experience, everyone is important in enabling a robust scientific outcome. And with examination and further peer review of my work, it will only improve more :)

And because my PhD is group effort, there are many people I need to thank. Each of these people helped me in some way, and provided a way for me to discover something new in soil science. Whether it was through patience, guidance, chocolate, fun, statistics, soil chemistry, or a shoulder to cry on, these people really made all the difference in a 'team effort' for research and discovery!

These are the amazing people who helped me along my PhD Journey:


Immense gratitude to my supervisors Ben Macdonald (CSIRO), Richard Greene (ANU), Ian White (ANU), and John Field (ANU), each of whom helped and guided me in a different way.

This project would not have been possible without Barrick (Cowal) Gold Mine and associated research partners. Particular thanks goes out to Garry Pearson, Richard Savage, David McKenzie and Mal Carnegie and The Environmental Review panel for ongoing support, interest and flexibility.

This thesis would have been much less ‘interesting’ without Lorna Fitzsimons. I appreciate all her time, energy, assistance, and most importantly, her support.

My love of statistics has gone from 0 to 100% with the assistance of Emlyn Williams.

Plant Services and Steven Dempsey were not only bemused that plants did actually grow in my soil, they were also amazing with glasshouse access and maintenance.

Critical access to the Southern Cross University laboratories, editing and advice would have never happened without the understanding of Vanessa Wong.

The endless reviewing would not have been possible without Jane Aiken, Andy Scott, Eric Crasswell, Ram Dalal (mid-term review) and anonymous reviewers. Particular thanks to my editing brother-in-law, Fergus Gratton.

There were many supportive academics on my path, but those who stand out the most include: the UWA Team (Andy Fourie and Mark Tibbett) for believing in me, guidance and support; Clive Kirkby for help with microbiology methods; Robin Tennant-Wood; Rob Loch; David Tongway; and anyone who answered my emails and phone calls.

Thank you to Fenner School staff. Malcolm Gill is particularly appreciated for his role as my mentor. Support from Steve Dovers, Geoff Cary, Sue Holzknecht, Janette Lindesay, Suzanne Mendes was most appreciated. Cathy Gray, Piers Bairstow, Di Jackobasch, Kevin Mahoney, Tony Ngudu and Clive Hilliker are simply amazing. Chris McElhinny will always be remembered as an inspiration and mentor.

Chats, never-ending support, morning and afternoon tea, and walks would not have been possible without my fellow PhD friends: Nathan Weber, Zoe Read, Kevin Jeanes, Daniela Carnovale, Eriita Jones, Brenda Moon, Marwan El Hassan, Kiri Whan, Jie-Lian Beh, Baihua Fu, Sarah Goldin, Melissa  Lovell and Carola Kuramotto. I want to say a special thank you to Andi Halliday, Lyndsey Vivian and Helen King who were always there, no matter what.  I am overwhelmed to have met so many amazing people.

Thank you to my patient friends, especially: Ainslee French, Bron Jones, Annie Sanderson, Kim Foster, Andrew Hicks, Ed Wright, Jola Samoc, Cheney Brew, Graham London, Matt Fussell, Greg Leves, Julie Osmond, Jenna Thornton and Shumin Lin.

My lab pain was reduced with thanks to: Andrew Higgins, Alice McRorie, Todd Bertwell, Lachlan James, Jo Seng, Liz Warden, Eddy Collett and Hannah Selmes. Bianca Bauer and Sarah Hill also got to have fun with my soils.

My family have all been incredibly supportive. My wonderful parents-in-law, Lianne and Alastair, have always been enthusiastic and interested. My sister understands this journey more than anyone, and I have valued her support immensely - coffee at The Gods was the best, Alli. A source of calm was from my Mum, who is always good at grounding me. Angus, you always managed to stay positive, accepting and supportive of the whole journey. Thank you.

Of course, there are so many more people out there that supported me in some way. Whether it was Twitter #phdchat-ers, Thesis Whisperer, coffee with Deb, online resources, an email from someone giving me advice... it was all super amazing and essential to get to the end. Thank you, one and all :)

I hope to post my Final PhD seminar on soilduck soon :)

1 comment:

  1. Well done and Congratulations, Jess! I found out the hard way that skimping on acknowledgements is a harbinger of scorn. While finishing my masters thesis, I asked my adviser, who all, customarily, should be included in the Acknowledgement section. She told me, "the rule is: if they're getting paid (it's their job), you don't need to acknowledge them." Wrong!!!

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