MicroBlitzers are a diverse bunch. We have citizen scientists throughout WA, from all walks of life, who have been inspired to get involved by the project’s potential to help protect our environment. But who are the people behind MicroBlitz? The scientists. The researchers. The organisational lynchpins.
Degree in Marine Biology
As Group Leader, with overall responsibility for delivering MicroBlitz as part of my West Australian Premier’s Fellowship, I work with our project and research managers to organise and implement pretty much everything: recruitment, sample collection, data generation/analysis, the works. But I also have key strategic responsibilities, such as building links with other research projects, end users and stakeholders to maximise the impact of MicroBlitz and the dissemination of our research.
You could say MicroBlitz is my brainchild. I conducted a similar project in the UK, where I used DNA sequencing of microbial communities to generate the first microbial map of a country. And yes, I’m a Pom, although, as a trained marine biologist who moved into DNA-based environmental science, I’ve worked all over the world in all sorts of strange aquatic and terrestrial environments. Recently, I even visited the UK parliament’s House of Lords, where I spoke to some very unusual creatures about the effects of climate change.
Bachelor of Education
Being Project Manager is a diverse challenge, and that’s just the way I like it. Not only do I oversee project development and rollout, I also nurture partner networks, develop training opportunities, liaise with funding bodies and sponsors, and represent MicroBlitz in various forums. My role even extends beyond MicroBlitz – I’m here to advocate citizen science in a broader sense for UWA, too.
A big part of my job involves engaging with schools and community groups across WA. As a teacher with a passion for innovative science curriculum, that’s something I really enjoy. Over the years, I’ve tackled an array of education-related roles, from working with Indigenous students in the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Tutoring Scheme, to coordinating a United Nations Education for Sustainable Development project. I believe the environment presents an experiential opportunity that requires interaction and presents the chance for real discovery. I see MicroBlitz as a natural extension of this – it’s a unique environmental education opportunity for everyone in WA.
You can probably tell, I’m not one for sitting behind a desk. I am a nature lover, so being outdoors, walking, snorkelling and creating my own eco art appeal to me most!
BSc PhD FSB PhD
As Dean at the Faculty of Science at UWA, I have a strategic role to play within the MicroBlitz team, not least in terms of raising the profile of the project and communicating the objectives and benefits of our research to a broad audience. But as a scientist, I also have a keen interest and involvement in the research itself, focusing on the analysis of the data we uncover.
You could say my passion for the science of microbiology has defined my career, from my degree at the University of Glasgow and PhD in Microbial Systematics at the University of Bristol, to my directorship position at the Institute for Research in Environment & Sustainability. As such, I’m wholeheartedly committed to MicroBlitz – it’s an incredibly exciting and ambitious project.
That said, we all need a break from our research from time to time. And for me, relaxing means the cinema and music, which includes playing the guitar (badly).