Picture: Drought at Walkaway WA Credit: Jacko Cage (Flickr).

by Steven Thomas
I first got involved with CLEX in 2019 after my supervisor recommended I apply for the CLEX summer research scholarships. I was fortunate to be awarded a scholarship to complete a 6-week research project at the Bureau of Meteorology investigating drought projections in Australia. During this project, I got to work alongside experts in the field who taught me important skills in areas like data management and data analysis whilst fostering a desire to pursue further research into drought and its impact on Australian hydrology.

At the end of the six weeks, I was given the opportunity to present my work to those in my direct team as well as a larger audience of colleagues working under the same project. This gave me a taste of formal presenting and I was able to learn and grow from the experience.

This project, although relatively short, led to me learning a valuable set of new skills and allowed me to develop professional connections in the workforce. These connections gave me a window to then complete a further research project alongside some of my supervisors from my first project in collaboration with Monash University. My project was a continuation of what the work completed over the summer and allowed me to delve deeper into the project and investigate areas we didn’t have time for initially. I again was able to present my research, however, this time my audience was my fellow students and their supervisors, this helped me develop an understanding of how to communicate my research to different audiences.

At the end of the university project, I was offered the opportunity to work at the Bureau of Meteorology contributing my drought research to a larger project on changes in hydrology across Australia. I was again able to expand on the research I’d already conducted to investigate areas more related to the larger project. This came with a great deal of collaboration with other members of the team and being privy to the scientific discussions around the project was really eye-opening.

It was through my Bureau supervisor that I was informed about the AMOS 2021 presentations and encouraged to submit an abstract. My abstract was accepted, and CLEX generously sponsored my presentation. In the process of preparing for the presentation, I was able to build on the presentations I’d given previously but it was still intimidating knowing that I would be presenting to an audience of experts in the field. I was able to get advice on my presentation from my colleagues who were also presenting at AMOS which helped me build my confidence. The presentation, despite being quite daunting, was very rewarding and I’m very glad that I was given the opportunity to present my work.

Over the past two years, I’ve been very fortunate to work alongside and learn from great researchers at Monash University, the Bureau of Meteorology and CLEX and I hope to be able to continue research in this field once I graduate.