A new program launched by CSIRO, Australia’s national science agency, is increasing opportunities for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students to participate in research undertaken in Australia’s vast marine estate.
The Indigenous Time at Sea Scholarship (ITSS) will enable Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander university students to join voyages on CSIRO’s research vessel Investigator with the first departing tomorrow from Darwin travelling to Fremantle.
The voyage will have two university students on board, Tiahni Adamson and Sophie Gilbey, for a 10-day voyage along Australia’s west coast.
Along the way, Tiahni and Sophie will take part in the voyage research including studies of the atmosphere and weather with the Bureau of Meteorology, investigation of microplastics in the ocean, and seabird and marine mammal surveys.
They will also be exposed to the wide range of capabilities RV Investigator possesses including seafloor mapping.
Tiahni Adamson from University of Adelaide is one of the first two students selected for the program and is excited to be joining this voyage on Investigator.
“It’s something I’ve dreamed about,” Tiahni said.
“It’s such a unique opportunity to learn from experienced researchers and the technical teams that deliver the science at sea and I’m excited by what lies ahead in the coming weeks.”
Tiahni, who is studying wildlife conservation biology as part of a Bachelor of Science degree, will be joined on the voyage by fellow South Australian student Sophie Gilbey from Flinders University.
Sophie is undertaking a combined degree of Environmental Science and Biodiversity Conservation and said the experience will complement her studies.
“This is a great opportunity to gain valuable practical knowledge to combine with my theoretical knowledge learned from university,” Sophie said.
“I’m really excited to learn about all the different research that Investigator can deliver, and this will be something I can share with other students back at university.”
Hannah McCleary, Indigenous Cadet with the CSIRO Marine National Facility and coordinator of ITSS, said there is a growing demand for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander practitioners to lead sea country research.
“The ITSS program is part of CSIRO’s commitment to increase involvement and opportunities for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people within the organisation and scientific research more broadly,” Hannah said.
“The program seeks to deliver practical experience and connect students with experienced researchers and like-minded students.
"It offers a unique opportunity for students to get involved in saltwater science.
“It will definitely be a Christmas and New Year’s to remember for our ITSS students!”
The ITSS program offers berths on RV Investigator each year and is open to all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students enrolled in an undergraduate or postgraduate degree at an Australian university.
RV Investigator will depart Darwin on Monday 23 December and arrive in Fremantle on Thursday 2 January 2020.
The voyage will be led by Chief Scientist Dr Alain Protat from the Bureau of Meteorology.
The voyage will also be the first time that RV Investigator has been at sea over Christmas since securing additional Australian Government funding to operate 300 days a year.