August 1, 2019 | Published by |

by Melissa Hart

The likelihood of a graduate student moving onto a position in exactly the same research area of their thesis is slim.  Therefore, we need to graduate PhDs with not only a depth of knowledge in their own research area, but also vital breadth of knowledge across the discipline. This is where our annual winter schools come in. 

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 theme “Modelling the Climate System” fell into the former category. This could be seen by the unprecedented number of applications we received. The Centre usually accepts winter school applicants from Australian and New Zealand graduate students regardless of their affiliation with the Centre, which is one of the steps we take to ensure we are building capacity beyond the Centre. However, the large interest in this year’s school meant that we could only accept participants affiliated with the Centre, or working with key Centre researchers. In all, we had 70 participants from across the five CLEX universities.

Lectures were delivered by CLEX researchers from our universities and our partner organisations CSIRO and Bureau of Meteorology.  All lectures were recorded and will soon be available on our website. We ran an ambitious practical program this year, with students setting up and running models, both Mk3L and ACCESS OM2, and then analysing the output and presenting the results. Participants were engaged throughout and presented some really impressive analyses for the short amount of time they had.

In addition to science, I also like to include some professional development activities at each winter school. This year we partnered with the NESP Earth System and Climate Change Hub and the Monash Climate Change Communication Hub to deliver a targeted comms workshop. You can read NESP’s Sonia Bluhm and Vanessa Round’s account of that workshop in this newsletter.

The winter schools are massive undertakings and this year I had more than 30 people helping on components ranging from lectures to labs, to technical support, to logistics. A big thanks to all involved, with an additional thank you to Karla Fallon and Jenny Rislund for logistics; Veronique Lagos for setting up, and Nina Ridder for leading, the Mk3L lab; and Claire Carouge and her team for all CMS support in the lead-up and during the week. 

We still have one more winter school lecture to come. Gab Abramowitz had flu the week of the winter school and was unable to deliver his highly anticipated “Philosophy of climate modelling” lecture, so this will be delivered via zoom at 1pm on August 21. It will be targeted at winter school participants, but all are welcome to join: https://unsw.zoom.us/j/923033295 Gab’s lecture will run during one of the usual Wednesday afternoon CMS training slots.

I plan to occasionally take on more of these slots to deliver professional development training. On September 25 we will run the first of what I am calling “the alumni sessions”. These will be professional development sessions from CoE alumni where they will share advice and strategy on life post-CoE. Speakers will come from a broad range of industries and career paths. This first alumni session will be delivered by Jen Wurtzel who will talk about her path from an ARCCSS international PhD student at the ANU to working as a research office in the Climate Branch of the NSW Department of Primary Industries. Zoom details to come soon.