May early career scientists and their big questions RISE

Published 23 October 2019
Splendour Science Tent 2019. Southern Cross University PhD researchers Laura Stoltenberg (left) and Sophie Pryor with popular science communicator Karl Kruszelnicki AM, more commonly known as Dr Karl. At the Splendour in the Grass Science Tent 2019: Southern Cross University PhD researchers Kay Davis (left) and Sophie Pryor with popular science communicator Dr Karl.

Putting the words ‘science’ and ‘conference’ together does not suggest ‘party’ to most people. But when done right, these essential events are really all about connection. Sort of like a party. With purpose.

“Communication and collaboration is just as important as the research,” says PhD researcher Gloria Reithmaier, chair of the Southern Cross University RISE 2019 postgraduate research conference starting today at the Lismore campus.

“One of my personal conference highlights is the discussion panel ‘Cooperation 101’, which brings together experts working in interdisciplinary research, industry, NGOs, and the government.”

‘Together We Go Further’ is the theme of RISE 2019, for which 42 postgraduate students will present their research and also participate in workshops that challenge the idea that scientists would prefer to be hidden away in the laboratory.

Visit the RISE website to see the full program.


The communication and collaboration continues on day 2 of RISE with ‘Let’s Break the Ice’, during which students will be thrown a series of networking games all aimed at sharing the highs and the lows and supporting each other.

“A lot of science is behind a paywall; it’s good to make it more accessible and more understanding,” says Laura Stoltenberg, a PhD candidate who presented her research on the dissolution of coral reef settlements to a colourful crowd at the Splendour in the Grass Science Tent this year.

“It’s important to be transparent about it and show a broader audience what we’re doing.”

Stoltenberg and fellow PhD candidate Sophie Pryor were both dressed with a tinge of marine: bright blue outfits, glassy jewellery and makeup – with not a crisp white lab coat in sight.

“What is the point of asking all these big questions if we can’t do something with the information,” says Sophie, who is presenting at RISE 2019 about the effects of ocean temperature on sea anemones, and the impact of climate change.

“When I’m writing presentations, I try to imagine if my 10-year old cousin will understand it. Science needs to be accessible so that people can be inspired to say, ‘I know something I didn’t know before and I’m going to do something about it’.”  

A diversity of research intended for use by the community will be presented by Southern Cross students over the two days of RISE 2019. Recognising that science works better when it comes out from behind the paywall, the broader community is invited to attend at no cost.

Kirsty Langdon will present ‘Nutting out Macadamia genetics’; her research will ultimately assist macadamia farmers to breed the beloved nuts – native to the Northern Rivers and recently domesticated – in changing climates.

Rick Tate will share his insights on his collaborative research on Smart Drumlines which are being trialled in six locations along Australia’s east coast as a method to reduce stress on white sharks when captured.

Jordanna Hinton has recently returned from Fiji where she was immersed with beekeepers, NGOs and researchers. She will talk about the importance of beekeeping for development.

RISE 2019

This is the 8th annual postgraduate research conference Research In Science Engineering & Environment (RISE). Visit the RISE website to see the full program.

Date: Wednesday and Thursday, October 23 and 24
Time: 9:30am - 5.30pm Wednesday and 9:00am - 3:00pm Thursday
Venue: U Block Lecture theatre, Southern Cross University, Military Road, Lismore.
Cost: Free

Media contact: Sharlene King 0429 661 349 or scumedia@scu.edu.au