Ryan studying 120 million year old rocks on a summer school fieldtrip to northern Italy.

When I began a Science degree at the Australian National University (ANU), I originally intended to major in Forestry. However the first year program included an Earth Systems course run by the Geology Department and I quickly realised that Earth Science was the place for me. I love how rocks can tell us so many secrets of the Earth’s long and interesting history and how Earth science can help us understand the inner workings of our planet.

I subsequently studied geology at the ANU, graduating with a Bachelor of Science (Honours) in 2007. My Honours project focussed on analysing the chemistry of a particular microfossil that lived in the Timor Sea off north-western Australia during the last interglacial period between 130 and 100 thousand years ago. This aimed to establish how much warmer the last interglacial period was in comparison to the current interglacial period, the Holocene, during which human civilisation has developed.

After a three year stint working in the minerals industry I returned to the ANU, to undertake a PhD. My research expanded upon my Honours research to study sediments covering the last 140 thousand years and additional core samples from the southern Great Barrier Reef. My work focused on reconstructing variations in surface ocean chemistry and temperature and understanding how these variations relate to the rate of calcium carbonate production by microscopic organisms and coral reefs. This helps us to understand changes in the oceanic carbon cycle in the geological past and provides the context or ‘background’ in which to place the current human induced changes in climate and carbon cycling.

I was attracted to the Geoscience Australia Graduate Program as it will expose me to a diverse range of geoscientific work and nationally important schemes that contribute to the environmental, social and economic benefit of the Australian community.

For my first rotation I will be working on a Hydrochemistry Atlas of Groundwater in the Great Artesian Basin, Australia’s largest groundwater basin. The basin underlies a range of arid and semi-arid regions and thus provides an important water resource to inhabitants and industry in these regions. Understanding the hydrochemistry of the basin will aid in managing this important resource sustainably into the future.

Meet the 2014 graduates