Learn in Tasmania stories
The following stories relate to studying in Tasmania
Returning large animals to different environments could greatly reduce devastation caused by fires, according to new research from the University of Tasmania. Professor Christopher Johnson found the ‘rewilding of animals’ could reduce the impact of fire globally: “Putting back big animals that are responsible for stabilising ecosystems and sustaining biodiversity lets the animals themselves do the repair work on ecological processes.” Professor Johnson said ‘rewilding’ was popular in Europe and America, and could also be applied as part of Tasmania’s fire management regime: “It’s clear that areas grazed by large animals, such a kangaroos, or maybe even deer in Tasmania, can function as quite effective fire breaks. If you’ve got a certain fraction of landscape treated in that way by animals, it can have a big impact on the probability of a fire that will sweep across the entire landscape.”
9 November 2018, Edition 200
The striking similarities between the geology of Tasmania, and the USA’s Grand Canyon, has led scientists to challenge theories about how Tasmania was formed. After five years of research, Dr Jack Mulder – a University of Tasmania graduate and now researcher at Monash University – believes Tasmania may have been connected to the west coast of America hundreds of millions of years ago, when the two landmasses were joined as part of the super-continent, Rodinia. After years of examining the rocks around Tasmania’s north west, Dr Mulder found them to be very different to those of a similar age on the mainland. An international search eventually led the research team to the Grand Canyon, where they discovered a perfect geological match. Dr Mulder theorises that when Rodinia started to break up around 700 million years ago, Tasmania travelled from the US to Australia. He told The Advocate: “We think that probably happened when the Pacific Ocean began to open, and Tasmania got plucked off the US.”
9 November 2018, Edition 200
Tasmania is proving to be a significant aviation player, with a local company winning a lucrative contract to train overseas pilots. Par-Avion, based at Cambridge aerodrome in Hobart, is Tasmania’s premier flying training organisation. It has just signed a deal with Air Asia for around 75 of its pilots to be trained in Tasmania each year. In the meantime, Par-Avion has indicated it is keen to set up another flight school in the state’s north-west, and is eyeing off both Devonport and Burnie as potential options. Earlier this year, Managing Director Shannon Wells told The Advocate the fact that both airports are under-utilised and had low congestion, makes them ideally suitable for aviation training: “It’s all round a good match for what we’d want to have for our potential international flying school… it would mean jobs and growth for the region.”
14 October 2018, Edition 199
There are calls from Tasmanian of the Year, Scott Rankin, for a greater focus on creativity and thinking in the classroom. He has joined the push for the education initiative STEM (science, technology, engineering and maths) to be expanded to STEAM – by including the arts. Mr Rankin told ABC News: “I love science, I love engineering, I love English, I love maths, I love technology, I love anything that starts with S, T, E and M, but I love the ARTS more. Because that is about mental gymnastics, it’s about the stuff that you need to be innovative and creative, in your life firstly, in your community secondly, and then good in business.” Mr Rankin is a leading arts identity. Twenty-five years ago, the Burnie theatre director and writer set up Big hART, a charity that aims to help bring about social justice through the arts.
13 August 2018, Edition 197
Hobart’s historic Theatre Royal is closing down for six months – but it’s all in the name of progress. Come October, the theatre doors will shut as work ramps up on the adjacent $96 million Hedberg Centre. As well as including a performing arts centre, the Hedberg will also accommodate the University of Tasmania’s Conservatorium of Music. The Theatre Royal itself, which dates back to 1837, is not being forgotten. As part of the these works, it will be upgraded with new facilities including a multi-level foyer and expanded amenities. Also, a purpose-built studio with seating for 285 will replace the very confined – and outdated – Backspace Theatre. State Arts Minister, Elise Archer, praised this project as a “game-changer” for Tasmania’s performing arts scene, resulting in the creation of greatly expanded footprint for Hobart’s theatre hub. The new-look Theatre Royal will re-open in May 2019.
3 July 2018, Edition 196
Two Tasmanian devils are winning hearts in San Diego, USA, where they are now happily settled into their new home at the city’s famous zoo. A “laid-back” male – named McLovin – and a “shy” female – named Quirindi (pronounced Kwa-ren-dee) – are now receiving visitors and drawing great interest. The Tasmanian ambassadors are also shining a light on the fight to save our devils. McLovin and Quirindi arrived from Taronga Western Plains Zoo late last year, and recently relocated to San Diego Zoo’s ‘Australian Outback’ exhibit after completing mandatory quarantine. San Diego is currently one of the few zoos in the U.S. with Tasmanian devils. A zoo statement described these newest additions as “extremely significant,” and part of a partnership program between San Diego and Taronga Zoos, designed to, “inspire needed support for Tasmanian devil conservation.” Tasmanian devils face the threat of extinction in the wild due to the deadly facial tumour disease which kills infected animals within six to 12 months: “The disease is incredibly rare and is one of few contagious cancers in the world. The good thing about that is, it attracts a lot of scientific attention. San Diego Zoo supports research that’s being done on the disease, so there’s still a lot of hope for the devils.”
11 April 2018, Edition 193
A new population of red handfish, one of the world's rarest species, has been found in Frederick Henry Bay in south-eastern Tasmania. It was thought the species had dwindled to about 20 individuals in a single location, but a tip-off from a local diver led a group from UTAS's Institute of Marine and Antarctic Studies (IMAS) to explore another part of the bay. Two hours into their dive, the group was about to give up when Antonia Collins spotted a tiny fish among some seaweed. "Once we found that initial fish we were able to focus our search area, and quite quickly we discovered another seven fish in close proximity to that first one, so it was very exciting," she said. It is believed that about 20 of the bottom-dwelling fish, that use their fins as hands to crawl along the seabed, are living in an area no bigger than two tennis courts. They grow to just 7cm-9cm long, living and laying eggs at the base of seaweed in shallow water. The species was first discovered near Port Arthur on the Tasman Peninsula in the 1800s, but the only known surviving populations are in two undisclosed locations on the opposite side of the peninsula. The red handfish is even rarer than the River Derwent's spotted handfish whose endangered status has inspired a successful IMAS captive breeding program.
8 March 2018, Edition 192
Tasmanian 13-year-old Campbell Remess flew to the United States in January as the only non-American in a CNN television program about extraordinary young people who have made a difference in their communities. For several years Campbell has been creating home-made teddy bears to comfort children in hospitals. His Project 365 by Campbell has earned social media acclaim around the world. CNN sent a team to Campbell's Hobart home before the New York-based program. It reported: "Campbell Remess (Australia) ... spreads kindness and comfort to hurting kids. He creates and delivers custom-made teddy bears for children battling illnesses around the world." Mum Sonya Whittaker said being in contact with people going through hard times could be difficult. "It's interesting to ask Campbell how he's feeling after he's been to something that's really shocking," Ms Whittaker told ABC Radio. "After we leave my first question is always, 'how are you feeling dude?' His answer is pretty much always the same." Campbell assures his mum he is happy to have made a difference.
Image courtesy of the ABC.
8 February 2018, Edition 191
The Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery (TMAG) is using three galleries for an exhibition exploring the ecology and biology of the beleaguered Tasmanian devil, along with changes over time in the public perception of the largest surviving marsupial carnivore. The Remarkable Tasmanian Devil exhibition took two years to assemble and will continue until 6 May. Senior Curator, Kathryn Medlock, said "The history of the animal is quite interesting because it really was perceived as being a pest, a threat to livelihoods and agriculture, fierce and nasty. Over time that's changed. I'm really hoping the public will gain a new respect of this animal and broaden their perspective on why it is such a remarkable species that has overcome the odds." Wildlife biologist and TMAG Honorary Curator, Nick Mooney, said it was important that a new attitude towards devils was consolidated in light of their survival struggle against Devil Facial Tumour Disease. "Now that they've had a brush with extinction and they're very rare, people are more interested," he said. An educational program has been created alongside the exhibition and school programs are planned.
8 February 2018, Edition 191
Seaweed extracts developed in Tasmania have been found by researchers at the University of Texas Health Science Center in Houston to boost the effectiveness of chemotherapy drugs. The extracts, known as fucoidans, are produced by Cambridge-based biotech business Marinova from seaweed varieties found in local waters. The extracts were found to decrease the growth of a human ovarian cancer tumour line by up to 33 per cent and a human cervical cancer tumour line by up to 70 per cent. The researchers also found that fucoidans considerably improved the efficacy of the chemotherapy drug Tamoxifen in treating breast cancer and decreased breast cancer tumour growth by up to an additional 26 per cent. Director of the Women’s Health Integrative Medicine Research Program in Houston, Dr Judith A. Smith, said: “This was the first research program to comprehensively assess the metabolism of fucoidan compounds for possible chemotherapy drug interactions. A ... study is now underway at UTHealth to further assess safety and observe quality of life parameters in human cancer patients.”
8 February 2018, Edition 191