Joanna Jones Travel Grant Recipient Report

Updated: Aug 13, 2018

Melissa L. Wartman, Monash University, School of Biological Sciences, Clayton, VIC, 3800

With the support of an ASPAB Joanna Jones Student Travel Grant, I was able to attend the ASLO 2018 Summer Meeting in Victoria, British Columbia, Canada. This conference brings together a consortium of marine biologists, limnologists, oceanographers, biologists, educators, social scientists and even artists whose research focuses on water in a wide range of topics.

Photo by Melissa Wartman

At the meeting, I gave an oral presentation on ‘FTIR spectroscopy as a monitoring tool for algal bloom assessment in a eutrophic, brackish lake system’ during the cyanobacteria in inland waters: new monitoring, reporting, modelling and ecological research session. My research investigated the possibility of utilizing FTIR (Fourier Transform InfraRed) spectroscopy to investigate macromolecular changes in microalgae in response to varying environmental conditions experienced in the Gippsland Lakes. We utilized the application of Focal Plane Array (FPA) FTIR to link changes in water quality and environmental conditions to shifts in algal macromolecular composition. This method provides a wealth of information on the macromolecular structure of single cells within a mixed-natural population assemblage.

At the conference, I saw talks on variety of topics ranging from complexity in coastal systems, and ecological stoichiometry across scales, to trait-based community organization along environmental gradients. The diversity of topics and speakers helped me gain insight into potential new directions for my own work.

This conference also provided me with several networking and career-oriented opportunities, from social events with other graduate students, to lunch-time publishing workshops with several editors of highly ranked journals. Between talks we had the opportunity to network with various lab groups to learn about new opportunities and ongoing projects in my research area.

After the conference I was fortunate to have the opportunity to explore Victoria and go whale watching. In a zodiac our group explored the southern tip of Vancouver Island in search of marine life. On this trip, we came across a pod of eight transient orcas, two humpbacks, a bald eagle, and several sea lions, all the while surrounded by beautiful snow-capped mountain ranges.

Photo by Melissa Wartman

Overall, attending the 2018 ASLO Summer Meeting “Water Connects”, was a great opportunity for my scientific career. I am very grateful for the support of the ASPAB Joanna Jones Travel Grant to help make my travel to this conference possible.

The Joanna Jones Travel Grant supports student travel to conferences. Applicants must be a member of ASPAB for at least 12 consecutive months before applying and applications are considered twice per year. Information about applications due on the 31st August 2018 can be found at


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