As a marine scientist, Martina Doblin has worked in some of the world's most beautiful coastal regions.
Her first voyage to Antarctica, however, is the experience that stays with her.
“When you first get into the sea ice, the ocean swell really changes. You get this dispersed ‘pancake’ ice which becomes thicker and thicker as the ship crunches its way through,” she says.
“The quietness of that initial phase where you’re floating through this ice is quite amazing.”
Associate Professor Doblin, who leads the Productive Coasts research program in UTS’s Climate Change Cluster (C3), hopes to inspire more young scientists to experience life at sea through a new collaboration between UTS and the CSIRO’s Marine National Facility.
The Marine National Facility offers education and training opportunities on board the research vessel Investigator, both when the ship is at sea and in port at Sydney’s Garden Island.
Teachers can join scientists in research at sea; primary, high school and undergraduate students can participate in the new Floating Classroom initiative; and postgraduate students can experience at-sea training with the Collaborative Australian Postgraduate Sea Training Alliance Network (CAPSTAN).
Helen Hayes is one of 20 postgraduate students selected for the first CAPSTAN voyage on the Investigator which will sail from Fremantle in November, bound for Hobart.
The marine science master’s student says she is looking forward to “being in the field on a research vessel and taking what I've learnt from classes at university to the real world”.
“Who doesn't love to get their hands dirty and do some practical science, especially when fieldwork could involve observing whales and seabirds from a research vessel in the middle of the ocean?”
Undergraduate oceanography students are also able to experience life on the Investigator through the Marine National Facility’s Floating Classroom. In September, UTS students were the first in NSW, and only the second university group nationally, to participate in the program. They learnt how to sample and handle seawater and did an experiment measuring drifts and currents in preparation for conducting such experiments in a real-life situation.
Student Nick Mullins says he enjoys learning about practical applications rather than just receiving information.
“The practicals give you an idea of what you might be doing and where a job in this area could take you.”
Associate Professor Doblin says the Investigator and education programs provided by the Marine National facility are valuable resources for both researchers and students.
“I’m delighted the CAPSTAN program is available to our students because the only other way to live and work on a ship is if a supervisor or lecturer saw an opportunity and invited an interested student to assist with a research project on board.
“Now students have a great opportunity to get some experience at sea and this is something that UTS is really getting behind.”