2022 Seminar Series

HIE seminar series – 2022

  • * Professor Ben Smith from HIE presented “ARC Discovery Projects 2022: Introduction and collaborative discussions”.
  • Professor Grace Karskens from the University of New South Wales presented “People of the river: Aboriginal people, settlers and environments on Dyarubbin, the Hawkesbury-Nepean River”.
  • Grace’s book People of the River: Lost Worlds of Early Australia explores the entangled worlds of Aboriginal people, settlers  and environments on Dyarubbin, the Hawkesbury-Nepean River. In this presentation she’ll discuss how and why she wrote this book, and how it relates to a whole new wave of Australian history as well as current national challenges, such as Makarrata. Grace will also talk about a related collaborative project, The Real Secret River: Dyarubbin, in which she worked with Darug and Darkinjung Traditional Owners to return long-lost Darug and Darkinjung place-names to the river.
  • Dr Sami Rifai from the University of New South Wales presented “Predicting time-to-recover from Australian forest fires”.
    Watch recording here (opens in a new window).

    Climate change has accelerated the frequency of catastrophic wildfires; however, the drivers that control the time-to-recover of forests are poorly understood. We identify the causes of variability in time-to-recover in South-Eastern Australian eucalypts using remotely sensed data, species distribution models, and functional traits. Time-to-recover was highly variable within individual burns, across seasons, and years. Approximately 97% of all observed burns recovered to a pre-fire leaf area index (± 0.25 sd) within six years. The time-to-recover was found to be predictable from burn severity, pre- and post-fire meteorological conditions, and species-level differences in life-history strategy and functional traits. This allowed us to explore a machine learning approach to generate a high-accuracy model (R2: 0.68; mean absolute error: 177 days) to predict the time-to-recover from the megafires will be only slightly longer than average owing to anomalously high rainfall following the fires.
  • Dr Karen Kirkby from NSW DPI presented “Crop pathology: from cotton to hemp, a survey of the effects of disease and climate change”.
  • I have been a crop pathologist with NSW Department of Primary Industries for over 10 years, studying the effects of fungal disease on cotton and hemp. In this seminar, I will give an overview of some of my career research highlights including:
  • Predicting the disease severity of Verticillium dahliae in cotton based on quantifying soil inoculum levels and the use of climate modelling to predict the future range and impact of the disease
  • Development and commercialisation of a novel natural fungicide for the control of V. dahliae
  • New research on disease management in the emerging hemp industry
  • Professor Lina Mercado from the University of Exeter presented “Response of tropical montane forest tree warming: insights from a field transplant experiment in the Colombian Andes”.
  • Dr Yi Liu from the University of New South Wales presented “Characterizing vegetation dynamics based on passive microwave satellite observations”.
    Watch recording here (opens in a new window).
    Vegetation optical depth (VOD) is an indicator of the vegetation water content of both woody and leaf components derived from passive microwave observations. VOD is distinctly different from products derived from optical remote sensing of vegetation (e.g. normalized difference vegetation index (NDVI)): it is less prone to saturation in dense canopy; is sensitive to both photosynthetic and non-photosynthetic biomass; is less affected by atmospheric conditions; and is of coarser spatial resolution. In this talk, several cases studies will be presented to demonstrate the potential of passive microwave-based VOD in characterizing vegetation responses to long-term climate change, extreme climatic events, and human activities at regional to global scales.
  • Dr Jose-Vicente Oliver from the Polytechnic University of Valencia presented “MSC in forest fire science and integrated management”.
    Watch recording here (opens in a new window).
    Seminar Overview: 1. Introduction: why a MSc in Forest Fires 2. Key figures and objectives 3. Skills for students 4. Structure: courses, modules and subjects 5. Implementation and teaching calendar 6. Our teaching staff 7. Experiences of our students 8. International cooperation
  • Dr Kim Calders from Ghent University presented “Seeing forests in a new light: virtual forests through 3D laser measurements”.
    Watch recording here (opens in new window).
    The physical forms of trees, in particular their dimensions and structure, provide insights into how forests function. Measuring forest structure is often represented in one or two dimensions only. While this can help simplify analysis, there may be a loss of information to properly understand ecosystems. In this presentation, I will show how new observations, using 3d laser scanners provide us with a new way to quantify the structure of trees. These measurements allow us to build new 3d models, estimate the mass of trees , explore theories of metabolic scaling or monitor phenology. These laser measurements allow for objective 3D time-series analysis (i.e. 4D) - allowing us to gain new insights into forest dynamic. These virtual forests can assist in testing simpler models, methods and their associated uncertainties  and are being used for a variety of applications.
  • Dr Keith Duncan from the Danforth Plant Science Community presented “Seeing the unseen: X-ray imaging in plant biology”.
    Watch recording here (opens in a new window)
    Much of plant biology involves studying how plants grow and develop in 3D space, both above and below the soil line. The lab of Dr. Christopher Topp at the Donald Danforth Plant Science Center has used a large format high-resolution X-ray tomography instrument to study diverse plant samples, using the rich volume data to extract 3D trait information not easily obtained with other imaging technologies. The addition of an X-ray microscope (XRM) to our facility has allowed us to generate multiscale high-resolution 3D tomographic data across a wide range of sample sizes and complexity. Imaging plant samples with high-resolution XRM can identify and measure important trait data at the cell, tissue, and organ level, while maintaining important whole plant contextual information. Recent application of X-ray imaging to Topp lab soil health research projects is also presented.
  • * Dr Lena Schmidt from the University of New England presented “Selective enhancement of native flora for pollinator populations in Australian agroecosystems under climate change”.
  • Dr Alex Cheesman from James Cook University presented “TropOz: Ozone in the Tropics”.
    Watch recording here (opens in a new window).
    Ozone in the earth's lower atmosphere is an important air pollutant that causes adverse effects on plants and ecosystems worldwide. Current O3 concentrations have been shown to cause significant productivity losses in both agronomic and natural system, but the impact of future changes on topical systems remains unclear. The TropOz facility represents a unique experimental facility to examine the impacts of O3 on tropical vegetation under semi-natural conditions and conduct detailed examination of the physiological impacts of air pollution on both tropical trees and important crop species while providing the data needed to model the impact of future changes on tropical systems.
  • Professor Haberle and Dr Adeleye from Australian National University presented “Big questions in Australian Palaeoecology and the emerging potential of functional palaeoecology”.
  • Owen Atkin from the Australian National University presented “Lab to nature to lab: linking field and controlled environment data to better understand what controls variability in plant respiration”.
  • Professor Simon Haberle and Dr Matthew Adeleye from the Australian National University presented “Big questions in Australian palaeoecology and the emerging potential of functional palaeoecology”.
  • Professor Dee Carter from the University of Sydney presented “Natural products to treat fungal infections: a tale of milk and honey in two parts”.
  • Dr Alex Wu from the University of Queensland presented “A theoretical analysis to understand and quantify effects of photosynthetic enhancement on crop growth and yield”.
  • Dr Florian Busch from the University of Birmingham presented “Revisiting carbon isotope discrimination in C3 plants – an opportunity to improve predictions of plant carbon update”
  • * Dr Demi Sargent from the University of Western Sydney presented “Climate-proof Cotton”
  • * Ms Elisa Stefaniak from the University of Western Sydney presented “Modelling optimal plant carbon storage under stress”
  • Associate Professor Bill Smith from the University of Arizona presented “Multiscale remote sensing of drought impacts on ecosystem structure and function of drylands of the Western US”
  • Professor Martha (Molly) Hunter from the University of Arizona presented “Environmental transmission: Upending our assumptions about the intimacy of beneficial terrestrial arthropod symbioses”
  • Dr Francisco (“Paco”) Pugnaire from CSIC, Spain presented “Control of ecosystem processes by soil microbial communities”.
  • * Dr James Bickerstaff from CSIRO presented “My journey of studying the diversity and ecology of Australian ambrosia beetles”.
  • Dr Phil Townsend from the University of Wisconsin presented “Imaging spectroscopy reveals macroecological patterns in foliar functional traits”.
  • Dr Suzy Rogiers from NSW DPI presented “The diagnosis of nutritional disorders in grapevines”.
  • * Distinguished Professor Belinda Medlyn, Oula Ghannoum and Amy-Marie Gilpin from HIE presented “From pollination to plant performance and impact of drought”
  • Dr Nijat Imin from the School of Science, WSU presented “The power of signalling: How small secreted peptides regulate nitrogen demand signalling and symbiotic root nodule formation”.
  • Dr David Warlind from Lund University presented “How updated representation of LPJ-GUESS soil processes are influencing C, N, and P cycles under elevated CO2”.
  • *Dr Eleonora Egidi from Western Sydney University presented “Unravelling the biogeography of dryland fungi, from soils to rocks”.
  • *Associate Professor Rachael Gallagher from Western Sydney University presented “A few new ideas for 2023: Extinction risk and drought, Eucalyptus as a global species”.
  • Mr Michael Bange from Cotton Seed Distributors presented “Evolution and Future Research Needs for Progressing Australian Cotton Systems”.
  • Dr Christina Birnbaum from the University of Southern Queensland presented “Unravelling the biogeography of dryland fungi, from soil to rocks”.
  • Dr Jiquan Chen from Michigan State University presented “Albedo-induced global warming potentials of terrestrial ecosystems (GWPα): Did IPCC underestimate this contrition?
  • *Mr Osazee Oyanoghafo from HIE presented “Vulnerability and adaptive capacity of proteaceae family to drought”.
  • Dr Danielle Way from ANU presented “Turning up the heat: how will climate change affect forests and crops?”

* Denotes HIE employee/graduating student