I received my PhD in dendroclimatology from the University of Tasmania in 1999. After a decade of working in local and state government, and teaching at both the secondary and tertiary levels, I took up a post-doctoral fellowship at Monash University in which I developed Australian tree-ring records sensitive to drought. This was followed by a fellowship with Melbourne University in which I was pivotal to pioneering development of climate sensitive records from alternative tree-ring properties such as cell diameter, cell wall thickness and microfibril angle that have not traditionally been used for climate reconstructions. I am now working towards an annually resolved temperature record for the Southern Hemisphere for the last 10,000 years, based on these alternative properties. The purpose of developing and improving records of past climate is to better understand both the past and the present climate variability.
This project will not only work towards providing critical information for managers and planners, but by making the mapped extremes over time available via a freely accessible webpage, the information an also be used as an educational resource. I consider this to be a very important part of our project because I am passionate about getting high school students more involved in on-the-ground science and to consider science as an exciting and relevant career. I am involved with CSIRO’s ‘Scientists in Schools’ program and have worked with small groups of students on dendrochronological projects. I also assist with student learning at the local school and believe it is imperative that Australian students experience science in action in order to arrest the current declining interest in science and technology subjects.