by Melissa Hart

Firstly, a welcome to all of our new students! I have held two inductions since our last newsletter and in both we had more than 20 new students dial in. Many of you are still offshore, however, I am starting to hear of success stories when it comes to travel exemptions for international students, so I hope that we get to see you all in person soon. For those here in Australia, now that borders have opened up, I will start a series of node visits so that I can see you all in 3D once again. As always, if you have any questions about life as a CLEX student, or simply want to chat, drop me a line and we can set up a meeting.

After having to cancel last year’s planned dynamics winter school and shift to a condensed online event, I am excited that this year we are once again running a winter school! Our Winter Schools are the cornerstone of our Graduate Program. We want to graduate students who not only have highly specialised knowledge in their own area of research, but also a broad understanding of the discipline as a whole. The winter school provides this opportunity. The theme of the winter schools changes each year, and shifts from broader, relevant to everyone, topics to more focused topics requiring prerequisite knowledge. This year’s winter school falls into the latter category and the theme will be Atmosphere and Ocean Dynamics. It will be held the week of June 21 at ANU, and I am particularly excited that we will have access to the ANU geophysical fluid dynamics lab. We will also head over to NCI for a wander through Gadi. Due to prerequisites and COVID restrictions on numbers, it will be a smaller school than usual. However, we will provide lectures virtually for those who cannot attend in person. Next year my plan is to cycle back to a broader topic without prerequisites and hold a larger winter school where we can bring all students together.

I usually combine professional development sessions, (e.g. communicating to stakeholders, preparing for careers in different sectors) into the winter school curriculum. However, given the smaller number of participants this year, I will hold those sessions virtually during upcoming Wednesday training sessions, so that all can attend. Keep an eye on the weekly updates for details of these as they arise.

Finally, I wanted to highlight the success of our undergraduate scholar program. Last year most universities did not run their usually undergraduate summer programs and, as such, we received more than three times the number of applications as usual. We usually attract great students to this program, but for our summer round this year they have been absolutely outstanding! I have seen final reports from a six-week undergraduate project that would pass a PhD confirmation, publications led by past undergraduate scholars, and undergraduate scholars presenting their project at this year’s AMOS conference. I ran two videoconferences with the students we had working with us over the summer, and we had some fantastic discussions as they all shared their science. Many of these undergrad scholars are now continuing on to honours with us. This has always been a successful program for attracting students to our honours/HDR opportunities, but it also exposes these students to life outside of academia as many of them work on projects co-supervised across our partner organisations. A reminder that we are flexible when we run these projects, they don’t need to be during the summer.  We can offer projects during mid-semester breaks, or on a part-time basis during the academic year. Let me know if you would like to put up a project.