Travels with wild chemicals – Distinguished visitor lecture by Prof. Mary Garson

QUT was honoured to host RACI Margaret Sheil Medallist Professor Mary Garson for a Distinguished Guest lecture titled “In search of a professional career: Travels with Wild chemicals”.

The RACI Margaret Sheil Medal was established in 2017 honouring the trail-blazing contributions of Professor Margaret Sheil AO, Australia’s first female chemistry professor, and the current Vice Chancellor of QUT. The spirit of this award is to recognise and honour female leaders in a chemistry-related field who have championed workplace equitability for women in STEM and/or outstanding mentorship for juniors.

I had the privilege of being able to attend this lecture and hear about Prof Mary Garson’s life and career journey, and her exciting discoveries and work in marine science.

As a young female chemist just finishing her Bachelor’s, listening to Prof Garson’s career journey was inspiring and exhilarating. Her tales of what led to the career she has today, seemingly poor decisions that lead to stellar scientific collaborations and contributions and a global network of friends and colleagues inspired me to continue in my field and to see the silver lining in everything.

She also divulged the secret to getting a species named after you as she has a flatworm species named in her honour, and the importance of bravery and resilience to achieve success.

She ended her lecture with a great piece of advice: write 250-300 words every day and you will thank yourself. 

I intend to follow her advise and remember her words to keep me inspired and galvanised to follow my dreams.

 

My travels across the South-Eastern border

During my winter break this year, I was invited by my best friend and her family to travel across the South-Eastern border of Australia with them. Our journey started with a flight to Melbourne, and road trips to Shepparton, Furner, Mount Gambier and Adelaide, and flight back from Adelaide to Brisbane.

The trip was an immersive experience as we stayed on farms owned by family friends, and I played with lots of baby lambs, had freshly laid eggs for breakfast and also had a bonfire night in the freezing weather.

My best friend surprised me with a trip to the Blue Lake, Tantanoola caves and the possum caves in Mount Gambier.

The spectacular Tantanoola caves have a stunning arrangement of stalactites and stalagmites made exclusively of limestone and dolomite, and the structures are still active! This is one of the few wheelchair accessible caves in Australia.

The Blue Lake in South Australia is a crater lake formed over an inactive volcano in Mount Gambier. The depth, colour, and visibility of the lake changes with the season.

On the way to Adelaide from Furner, we also came across the famous giant lobster, and absolutely had to take a picture of it!

The notorious giant lobster!

All in all, this trip inspired me to aim to travel more across Australia and explore the less famous towns and cities and discover more of Australia’s stunning landscape and natural formations.

LDI Training Institute 2017

Every year, QUT hosts a 5-day intensive program for passionate LDIers where we are whisked away to a “camp” and immerse ourselves in leadership concepts and explore and extend our capacity as leaders. This year, the Training Institute was hosted at Kindilan Outdoor Education Centre in Redland Bay and consisted of around 80 students, plus facilitators and counsellors.

We are not given very much information on what to expect at camp, and what the guidance leaflet told us was to “expect anything”. While this was mildly irritating for someone who delves into information pre-event so that I’m prepared for what’s to come, I can assure you that I’m glad I was unprepared.

I’m not going to give you specifics of what happened at the 5-day camp, because that will only take away from your own learning experience should you choose to go.

As far as my opinion goes, it was an excellent week where I learned more about myself, my own take on leadership and how to be a better leader from my friends and peers. While this may all sound vaguely superficial, ask anyone who has been to the Training Institute and they will mostly mirror this opinion.

What I learned at this intensive is definitely not something I would have learned by attending all the LDI workshops at uni, simply because at camp, we learn by doing. We learn from ourselves and we apply it during the week.

The cost of this camp is $100 all-inclusive.

For anyone considering attending this, if you’re working in the capacity of a leader and looking to improve, if you’re somehow seeking a deeper understanding of how we fit (or don’t fit) into the bigger picture, or are just curious as to what happens at this uber-secret intensive, just go!! I highly recommend it!

Should you need any more incentive, here are some shots of the beautiful space we were in… and the beautiful people I met there.

courtesy of the LDI TI 2017 Facebook page.

 

For more information on LDI, visit https://www.student.qut.edu.au/jobs-and-careers/leadership-and-development/leadership-development-and-innovation-program

 

Student Leadership conference 2017: Transform

QUT hosts one Student Leadership conference per semester, that is run by students for students. This semester’s conference ran over two days; the first day focused on introspection and assessing our values and strengths and the second day focused on using these values and strengths to inspire and spearhead change in our community.

Unfortunately, I was able to attend only day one due to other obligations, but it was entirely worth it.

Each conference focuses on a new theme, and seeks to galvanize the leader in each of us. This is apparent by the fact that the organizing committee of the conference consists of students only and the conference itself runs workshops facilitated by fellow students. The learning experience is somehow more thought-provoking and relatable when I see my friends and colleagues running the show.

This year, for the first time ever, QUT invited students from other universities to attend and participate in our conference, with the aim of building leadership communities across Australian universities.

To anyone who hasn’t yet attended any of the conferences, please do. It might consume your whole day but it’s definitely worth it. It’s all the knowledge you get outside of your classroom that makes you a well-rounded person.

Besides, food is free!! Who doesn’t love free food amirite? Make sure you come along to the next conference!

Riverside at the Gardens – Sunday market

Having lived in Brisbane for a little over a year, one of it’s many little quirks I’ve found are it’s abundance of fairs and markets. You can find plenty of them right in the city and in the suburbs around the city.

I recently discovered the Sunday market that happens at Riverside at the Gardens, every Sunday of the month and decided to hop down there to relax during my mid-semester break. It’s located at the Botanical Gardens entrance right down Alice Street. (Pro-tip: if you find yourself at uni on a Sunday want to get out of uni for a rash shopping trip or to grab a bite, just walk down Alice street to this market. You’ll love yourself for it. Promise.)

My first experience at this market happened to the special Easter edition of the market, as it was happening on Easter Sunday, so there were some fun competition, an egg hunt and a raffle draw also happening.

There were not many vendors, but there were a generous variety of things on sale: sweet/savoury cuisine from different parts of the world, clothes, handmade jewellery, wooden crafts, soaps/bath bombs and even make-up.

My sugar-rush inducing, cookies and cream doughnut.

The best part of the market is it’s location – you can grab a bite and head over to sit under the shade of the trees in the garden and enjoy your food.

The prices were all very reasonable for the food. The clothes were on the pricier end.

There was great fresh produce at better prices than you would find at the supermarkets, so I would highly recommend taking a bag along for grocery shopping.

Brisbane’s markets are something you should definitely try out if you’re living here. Maybe we’ll run into each other sometime. 🙂

College of Excellence Networking Dinner

The College of Excellence hosts an annual networking dinner for its members, where CoE members from all years at uni come together for a formal, sit-down dinner.

This year, the dinner was hosted at 66 on Ernest, with a price tag of $25 per head. However, the CoE launched a “Buddy System” this year (where a senior is matched up with a Junior, in an informal mentoring relationship), so if you could come to the dinner with your buddy, the price would be halved for both of you so you could receive tickets at the price of two-for-one.

The 3-course meal that was served was definitely worth the money we paid, and the dinner was a great way to reconnect with some of my friends amidst my busy semester schedule. Unfortunately, I couldn’t take pics of my beautifully plated food, but rest assured it was pretty good on the taste buds and aesthetically pleasing to look at (clearly, because I was so excited to eat it, that I didn’t stop to take pics).

Before the dinner, members are asked to attend a Networking and Etiquette workshop from CoE, where we are taught about dinner table etiquette and the art of networking. We are encouraged to practise our networking skills at the dinner and meet new people.

We were given a little checklist to ensure we met people from different faculties, from different year levels and with different paths into the College.

All in all, I would definitely go to the dinner next year as well. See you there!

Getting yourself organized at uni

I somehow miraculously managed to pull through my entire first year by solely keeping events of the day and week in my head, and setting the occasional reminder or alarm.

Now that I’ve started my second year, it would be joking if I told you I could survive using the same tactic.

Enter the ultimate tool *drumroll*: Google Calendar. Seriously, this is a gem of an app. Don’t wait until your second year to use this – star using it as early as you can to get yourself organised smoothly.

Basically, Google Calendars is a daily/weekly/monthly planner. All you need is a google account and a smartphone. You can set up events and reminders for your entire year as you please. Seeing it on an interactive interface will easily let you know when you’re free and will prevent you from being double-booked.

The best part is you can export your class timetable to Google Calendars, and BAM! You have your whole day on your phone, literally. It will show you your class name, time and location from the information on your QUT virtual Calendar. How awesome is that?!

You can export your class schedule as an iCal file and import it online (on a laptop or desktop, not a mobile phone) and then you’re all set to go. It will alert you on your mobile app before you’re due at an event.

You can think of it as a central scheduler for your day – your work shifts, meetings, classes and other commitments all in one spot that you can see on the go. You can set up customised alerts to remind you of your events.

This is handy tip which I would have benefitted from knowing sooner. So there you go!

My trip to Gold Coast

After a year of hearing about the infamous Gold Coast and its beaches and absolutely dying to go there, I finally made it!

What nobody told me about Gold Coast was that, in fact, it is not one long stretch of … a coast. TheGC has many beaches and you have to choose which beach you want to visit. So yeah… there’s a little fun fact for you – that Gold Coast is not in fact one long beach.

By far, the most famous of GC’s beaches would be Surfer’s Paradise. So I went there first.

Undoubtedly, it was rather crowded on a Sunday. So I hopped on the G Link tram service and moved South to Broadbeach. It was only slightly less crowded than Surfer’s paradise but there was more shade to camp under, so I decided to stay there.

Broadbeach is lined with a market on Sunday afternoon so you easily get cheap food, fresh juice and little trinkets there.

Getting to GC via train and bus took me a total of just over $10 only for a round trip, which is really cheap. Alternatively, if you’re not comfortable going there via public transport yet, there are guided tours hosted by QUT ISS (International Student Services) for around $50 for a round trip. It’s a really good place to start looking if you want to start seeing more of Queensland’s beaches and wildlife spots. ISS will give you a detailed itinerary of your trip so you’ll be able to judge if the price you pay is worth it. A definite plus side is you won’t have to go alone as it will be a big group.

My advice is you pack and bring your own food and drinks if you’re short on money, rather than rely on the shops around the beach and they can get quite pricey.

Don’t forget to take a towel, sunglasses, your bathing suit, a large beach mat or blanket to spread and sit on, and HEAPS OF SUNSCREEN. I applied sunscreen religiously and yet suffered from a vicious sunburn. Use SPF 50+ always and stay hydrated. If your phone drains battery make sure you bring along a portable charger. Bring a nice book to read on the beach as you chill with your coke and chips.

 

 

Research Internships for Science Undergraduates

It’s almost a rite of passage for the current day for undergraduate students to do a summer internship for at least their last two years of study.

As international students we may have the slight disadvantage of not having any connections in the industry for us to land an internship – we often require more effort and time compared to that required by a domestic student.

However, QUT has in place a Vacation Research Scheme (VRES) for which all QUT students can apply! You will usually get an email in your second semester giving you more details about the VRES projects available and the supervisors in charge of each project.

The projects are categorised by school so it is easier to find a project that suits your interests and academic field. I come under the School of Earth, Environmental and Biological Sciences, so I skipped over all the other projects to look at the projects listed under this school because they would be more relevant to me.

You are required to choose and nominate three projects that interest you, in order of preference. You must email the supervisors of each of the three projects and meet up with them beforehand. This allows you to show interest in the respective project and to also get to know about the nitty-gritty of the projects. After your chats with them, your order of preference may change. So this needs to be done before you submit the application.

As per usual you need to state why you want to take part in VRES. As places are limited, the entry to this is very competitive. The supervisors have high expectations of the students who do get into VRES, and you get paid for each week of research you do.

In general, it is rather uncommon for a first year to get in, although you’re more than welcome to apply. Most supervisors prefer students from the second year and upwards due to the simple fact that by the end of the second year, you would have more knowledge and experience in the field, so the project would be more beneficial to you. However, a few first year students do get into VRES each year, so don’t let that discourage you from applying.

Read the details early on so that you can organise a time to meet up with the supervisor easily, because they tend to be very busy and often don’t have time to see you on short notice.

Keep in mind, this is just one of many opportunities that will come your way. Check in other places such as Engineers without Borders and CSIRO for other internships that maybe available to you. VRES is really good place to start looking, because it is from QUT itself.

A Book lover’s paradise: Lifeline Bookfest!!

I did not know about the existence of bookfest until it had already started and gone halfway through its scheduled dates for January 2017. I have to thank my lovely friend Ashlee for enlightening me about this. Being the massive bookworm I am, I love nothing more than cheap books. If you happen to share the same endearing quality, then Lifeline Bookfest is your slice of paradise!

Lifeline is an Australian charity that provides crisis support and suicide prevention services to Australians. It plays a pivotal role in supporting the mental wellbeing of people throughout Australia. Thus keep in mind that every purchase you make at bookfest is going towards a worthy cause.

How it works: people from everywhere donate their books (from all kinds of genres, even textbooks), stationery (that is in good condition) and even CDs and DVDs to Lifeline; a bunch of volunteers and lifeline staff congregate and categorise them and sell it at bookfest. All funds generated go towards supporting Lifeline.

That is all the background info in a nutshell. Feel free to do some of your own research. Now to the fun bits and pics.

All the six books above, I got for a total of $9. HOW COOL IS THAT??? I would imagine each of those books to cost a minimum of $15 bucks at a bookstore. You’ve got to admit that it’s a real steal.

My only problem at bookfest was that I wanted to buy half of the books displayed there, which would mean I have to sell my soul. So naturally, I had to limit my spending.

As you can possibly gauge from the above pictures, there’s an almost impossible number of books to navigate through, so if you’re as into books as I am, then be prepared to come in multiple days. Do not fret, as bookfest runs for over a week, so can come in every now and again.

Pro tip: bring a sturdy grocery bag with you. You’ll love yourself a little more if you don’t have to balance 20 books in your hands on a 40-minute bus ride.

Look at that BARGAIN!!!!! *insert heart eye emoji*

The books are divided off into 3 sections: $1 section, $2.50 section and the ‘High-quality books’ section. The ‘High-quality books’ are priced anywhere at and above $4  and this is usually where you would find some useful reference books. Inside each section the books are arranged into tables labelled fiction, hardback, paperback, biographies, rare & collectables, etc. There’s a lot more sections than I can remember, I’m afraid.

After you’re done in each section you have to pay for your books at the checkouts pictured above, where they will put your books in a plastic bag and seal it. Do not break this seal until you’re done with bookfest for the day. This seal helps prevent books from different sections from getting mixed up.

You can always google up Lifeline bookfest for more information. Don’t forget to like their facebook page as this will give you updates on their events.

Bookfest happens twice a year and couldn’t happen without the lovely volunteers or patrons, so feel free to volunteer at the next bookfest.