In brief

Director retires

Australian Antarctic Division Director, Lyn Maddock, has announced her retirement, effective from mid-June 2011. A new Director is expected to begin in July. Lyn joined the Division in early 2009 and has overseen endorsement of the new 10-year Science Strategy, steps to replace Australia’s icebreaker, Aurora Australis, Australia’s contribution to the Antarctic Treaty Consultative Meetings and planning for the 2012 Australasian Antarctic Expedition Centenary celebrations.

‘I would like to thank everyone for giving me the chance to work with a great bunch of people, doing a great job for a great cause. I am proud to have been part of the effort,’ Lyn said.

Hawke Fellow to sequence Antarctic krill genome

The inaugural R. J. L. Hawke Post Doctoral Fellowship in Antarctic Environmental Science has been awarded to geneticist Dr Bruce Deagle

Dr Deagle will use modern genetic technologies to sequence the genome of Antarctic krill and examine gene expression and how this relates to temperature and ocean acidification. 

‘Developing a deeper understanding of this keystone species through modern genetic technologies will allow us to identify likely physiological responses of krill to future environmental changes in the Southern Ocean,’ Dr Deagle said. 

Dr Deagle moved from Canada to Australia in 2000 and undertook a PhD through the University of Tasmania and the Australian Antarctic Division, focusing on developing new molecular methods for studying the diet of wild animals using DNA found in their scats. He is considered a world leader in this field. 

Dr Deagle has spent more than 10 years applying genetic technologies to research on many aspects of animal ecology, including the evolutionary biology of stickleback fish, the diet of Australian fur seals and age-related genetic signals in whales. 

The $300 000, three-year Fellowship, which honours former Australian Prime Minister Bob Hawke’s contribution to protecting Antarctica, aims to develop a new generation of scientists and build capability in Antarctic environmental science. Fellows will be based at the Australian Antarctic Division in Hobart. 

New SCAR strategic plan 2011–2016

The Scientific Committee on Antarctic Research (SCAR) has released a new five year strategic plan (2011–2016). SCAR’s strategic vision is for a world where the science of the Antarctic region benefits all, excellence in science is valued and scientific knowledge informs policy.

Traversing Antarctica: the Australian experience

The National Archives of Australia is developing a touring exhibition, Traversing Antarctica: the Australian experience, to mark the 100th anniversary of the 1911–14 Australasian Antarctic Expedition led by Douglas Mawson. Opening at the Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery on 2 December 2011, the exhibition celebrates the enduring scientific, historic and social legacy of this landmark expedition and the unbroken connection that continues to the present day.

Developed in collaboration with the Australian Antarctic Division and several state museums and libraries, the exhibition is a journey of discovery through the stories, science and wonder of Antarctica’s past, present and future. It will contain official government correspondence, maps, photographs, objects, film, digital media and sound that showcase Australia’s role.

The exhibition will tour nationally until 2014. The tour will include a series of public programs by a range of experts from the Australian Antarctic Division that highlight Australia’s role in the continuing scientific discovery in Antarctica.

More information on Centenary celebrations.

Jane Macknight, Exhibitions Curator

Flying visit boosts Australia’s Antarctic relations

Australian Antarctic Division Director, Lyn Maddock, visited McMurdo and Scott bases in Antarctica in February, as part of an information-gathering and relationship-building exercise. She travelled from Christchurch to McMurdo on the New Zealand Airforce 757 aircraft and spent three days reviewing the scientific and logistic activities of the American and New Zealand bases.

During the trip Lyn (right of photo) signed an updated Memorandum of Understanding for cooperation between the Australian and New Zealand Antarctic programs, along with Chief Executive of Antarctica New Zealand, Lou Sanson. (The Minister of Conservation, the Hon. Kate Wilkinson, at centre of photo, looks on).