Wednesday, 14 August 2013

Young scientists getting down and dirty

In the second post of a 3-part series to help celebrate National Science Week, we're profiling ACIAR Graduate Officers. Our 'grads' help demonstrate the variety and opportunity a career in agricultural science can provide.

Jack Koci collecting soil samples for nutrient analysis in northern Queensland

Science is everywhere.  From the ability to predict the trajectory of an asteroid, to the Fibonacci sequence appearing on a pine cone. The world is an endlessly fascinating place.

Now into it’s sixteenth year, National Science week provides an opportunity to acknowledge the contributions of Australian scientists’ to the world of knowledge. It also aims to encourage an interest in science pursuits among the general public, and to encourage younger people to be fascinated by the world we live in.

As an agricultural science research agency, ACIAR certainly contributes to this world of knowledge. Each year ACIAR hires recently-graduated students from Universities across Australia. Jack Koci is one of three graduates from various science fields currently working in our research programs.
Jack taking gas samples for Nitrous Oxide and Carbon Dioxide analysis.
He's also measuring emissions using a photo accoustic field gas analyser.
Jack completed a Bachelor of Science in Hydrology and Water Resources with Honours from James Cook University in 2012. His honours research project looked at the effect of fertiliser application rate and a nitrification inhibitor on nitrogen losses and pasture growth in tropical dairy pastures.  

Jack has always been fascinated by agriculture and hydrology.   

In Tropical North Queensland, there are several water resource management issues that I found very interesting and wanted to learn more about. For example; nutrient and pesticide runoff from agricultural lands into the Great Barrier Reef, rising saline groundwater under sugarcane, droughts, floods, cyclones, and other sources of impact,” Jack said.

So far Jack is enjoying his time at ACIAR.  

“ACIAR has a great work environment where everybody is passionate and motivated, and there are opportunities to continually learn - even at lunch time through the ACIAR Seminar Series!”  

Getting down and dirty:
Jack is digging trenches for runoff plots
in the wet season tropics.
Jack is looking forward to travelling to different parts of the world to see firsthand how ACIAR projects are implemented.    

“I will be travelling to the Philippines in October to participate in a review on a project dealing with watershed evaluations in the southern Philippines, and to meet the project leader of a project associated with soil management strategies. I will then be travelling to Vietnam to attend the inception meeting of a project focusing on rice-shrimp farming systems in the Mekong Delta. Later this year I'll participate in the first Annual Review of ACIAR’s Myanmar Program and investigate potential water-related projects.”

In the future, Jack hopes to complete a PhD in international agricultural research.   

Working at ACIAR will help me to achieve this goal by providing a solid understanding of how to design and implement successful research projects. I'll also get a good overview of the work that is currently been undertaken and where there are gaps in knowledge. Another big benefit is the opportunity to interact with leaders in my field," he said.

Jack is working across the Soil Management and Crop Nutrition, Land and Water Resources and Forestry research programs. 

Further information:
National Science Week
ACIAR Recruitment (note: there are currently no vacancies with ACIAR but when positions become available they are posted here)
Related blog posts: 
All creatures great and small (blog post profiling ACIAR Graduate Officer Emma Zalcman)

Young researcher forages for answers (blog post profiling ACIAR Graduate Officer Bonnie Flohr)
Agriculture and the skills challenge: finding the links between uni and industry (blog post profiling previous ACIAR Graduate Officer, Brendan Brown)
Building markets for Vietnamese indigenous vegetables (blog post profiling previous ACIAR Graduate Officer, Rebecca McBride

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