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Overview


Melinda Waterman is an early career biotechnologist examining secondary metabolites and protective mechanisms of temperate and Antarctic mosses; in particular how they cope in different stressful situations, e.g. UV radiation, water stress and high light. She completed her PhD in 2015 (awarded 2016) on the biology and chemistry of Antarctic moss species, with a focus on their natural protective mechanisms and how old living moss shoots from Antarctica can be. Her involvement in Antarctic fieldwork 5 years in a row since 2015 has significantly advanced her development as an early career researcher and has helped strengthen partnerships with national (ANSTO) and international institutions (Universidad de Santiago de Chile, Auckland University of Technology, Chilean Antarctic Institute). She is an enthusiastic supporter for science communication, hence her participation in several science communication competitions, radio interviews and blog articles as well as presentations at various international conferences.

Top Publications


Research Overview


  • Dr Melinda Waterman is an Associate Research Fellow at the University of Wollongong, Australia. She is an early career biotechnologist examining the secondary metabolites and protective mechanisms of moss species that live in temperate and Antarctic regions. After completing her PhD in 2015, Melinda continues to analyse the potential of bryophytes as proxies for past climate change in remote locations and what mechanisms plants use in extreme environments.

    Melinda's research interests and skills include:

    • climate change, plant ecophysiology, radiocarbon dating and natural products spanning across many disciplines within science.
    • HPLC and TLC chromatography, UV-Vis spectrophotometry, microscopy, chlorophyll fluorometry, spectral analysis, tissue culturing, and imaging, NMR spectroscopy and EI/DI mass spectrometry.
    • science communication (see her Twitter feed for research updates).

Selected Publications


Other Research Activities


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Impact Story


  • Plants in Antarctica are changing at a more alarming rate than first anticipated. There is well documented greening in the Arctic and on the Antarctic peninsula as ice retreats exposing more land. These regions are amongst the most rapidly warming on the planet. Warmer temperatures and increasing melt promote plant growth. Meanwhile on the continent, so far, there has been little evidence of warming so plant responses were expected to be slow and difficult to detect, until now.<br /><br />Alarmingly after only 13 years monitoring plant ecosystems we observed significant changes in the moss beds near Australia’s Casey station in East Antarctica. We have recently shown that these lush moss beds of the Windmill Islands, East Antarctica are rapidly drying due to cooler, windier summers caused by ozone depletion and climate change. We have developed advanced ways to analyse preserved climate records captured within these old-growth moss shoots establishing these miniature plants as accurate proxies to detect climate change in coastal East Antarctica. Our research has provided a history of the region's changing climate and these novel techniques can be used to determine sites in Antarctica where mosses are at risk of drying and dying.<br /><br />Our results show for the first time that climate change and ozone depletion are drying East Antarctic moss beds and demonstrate that Antarctic communities are already being affected despite a relatively small change so far. How these plant communities fare in future depends on implementation of and compliance with the Montreal Protocol and Paris Climate Agreement. Continued monitoring of these moss beds is important so that Antarctic Environmental Managers can protect these fascinating plant communities for the future.
  • In 2016 I gave a <a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=V4PsZlTGedU" title="YouTube: Antarctic Plants In A Time Of Change" target="_blank" rel="noopener">TEDX Antarctic plants in a time of change</a>.<br /><br />In 2017, this was featured in a story on <a href="https://ideas.ted.com/the-extraordinary-antarctic-plants-with-superhero-powers/" title="Featured Story: Extraordinary Antarctic Plants with Superhero Powers" target="_blank" rel="noopener">ideas.ted.com.</a>

Outreach Overview


  • I have been involved in several academic and public outreach activities. In particular I have reviewed numerous academic journal articles, presented at international conferences at least once per year, been invited to speak at schools and local seminar series as well as competed in science communication competitions.

    My first experience as a science communicator was in the 3 minute thesis competition at University of Wollongong in 2013, where I was successful at the Faculty and University levels. This increased exposure to my research to the wider community and I continue to enjoy showing my passion for science in several events that followed. For example, I was invited to be an 'expert' at the 2014 ANSTO Fact or Fiction event that was targeted at primary and high school students (see http://www.ansto.gov.au/AboutANSTO/MediaCentre/News/ACS055097). Please see below for other examples.

    I aspire to be a better communicator, whether it be on radio explaining the important of Antarctic moss or in scientific publications, to inspire the next generation of scientists.

Outreach And Community Service Activities


Full Name


  • Dr Melinda Waterman

Mailing Address


  • Centre for Sustainable Ecosystem Solutions, School of Biological Sciences, University of Wollongong

    Northfields Ave

    Wollongong

    New South Wales

    2522

    Australia

Top Publications


Research Overview


  • Dr Melinda Waterman is an Associate Research Fellow at the University of Wollongong, Australia. She is an early career biotechnologist examining the secondary metabolites and protective mechanisms of moss species that live in temperate and Antarctic regions. After completing her PhD in 2015, Melinda continues to analyse the potential of bryophytes as proxies for past climate change in remote locations and what mechanisms plants use in extreme environments.

    Melinda's research interests and skills include:

    • climate change, plant ecophysiology, radiocarbon dating and natural products spanning across many disciplines within science.
    • HPLC and TLC chromatography, UV-Vis spectrophotometry, microscopy, chlorophyll fluorometry, spectral analysis, tissue culturing, and imaging, NMR spectroscopy and EI/DI mass spectrometry.
    • science communication (see her Twitter feed for research updates).

Selected Publications


Other Research Activities


  •  

Impact Story


  • Plants in Antarctica are changing at a more alarming rate than first anticipated. There is well documented greening in the Arctic and on the Antarctic peninsula as ice retreats exposing more land. These regions are amongst the most rapidly warming on the planet. Warmer temperatures and increasing melt promote plant growth. Meanwhile on the continent, so far, there has been little evidence of warming so plant responses were expected to be slow and difficult to detect, until now.<br /><br />Alarmingly after only 13 years monitoring plant ecosystems we observed significant changes in the moss beds near Australia’s Casey station in East Antarctica. We have recently shown that these lush moss beds of the Windmill Islands, East Antarctica are rapidly drying due to cooler, windier summers caused by ozone depletion and climate change. We have developed advanced ways to analyse preserved climate records captured within these old-growth moss shoots establishing these miniature plants as accurate proxies to detect climate change in coastal East Antarctica. Our research has provided a history of the region's changing climate and these novel techniques can be used to determine sites in Antarctica where mosses are at risk of drying and dying.<br /><br />Our results show for the first time that climate change and ozone depletion are drying East Antarctic moss beds and demonstrate that Antarctic communities are already being affected despite a relatively small change so far. How these plant communities fare in future depends on implementation of and compliance with the Montreal Protocol and Paris Climate Agreement. Continued monitoring of these moss beds is important so that Antarctic Environmental Managers can protect these fascinating plant communities for the future.
  • In 2016 I gave a <a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=V4PsZlTGedU" title="YouTube: Antarctic Plants In A Time Of Change" target="_blank" rel="noopener">TEDX Antarctic plants in a time of change</a>.<br /><br />In 2017, this was featured in a story on <a href="https://ideas.ted.com/the-extraordinary-antarctic-plants-with-superhero-powers/" title="Featured Story: Extraordinary Antarctic Plants with Superhero Powers" target="_blank" rel="noopener">ideas.ted.com.</a>

Outreach Overview


  • I have been involved in several academic and public outreach activities. In particular I have reviewed numerous academic journal articles, presented at international conferences at least once per year, been invited to speak at schools and local seminar series as well as competed in science communication competitions.

    My first experience as a science communicator was in the 3 minute thesis competition at University of Wollongong in 2013, where I was successful at the Faculty and University levels. This increased exposure to my research to the wider community and I continue to enjoy showing my passion for science in several events that followed. For example, I was invited to be an 'expert' at the 2014 ANSTO Fact or Fiction event that was targeted at primary and high school students (see http://www.ansto.gov.au/AboutANSTO/MediaCentre/News/ACS055097). Please see below for other examples.

    I aspire to be a better communicator, whether it be on radio explaining the important of Antarctic moss or in scientific publications, to inspire the next generation of scientists.

Outreach And Community Service Activities


Full Name


  • Dr Melinda Waterman

Mailing Address


  • Centre for Sustainable Ecosystem Solutions, School of Biological Sciences, University of Wollongong

    Northfields Ave

    Wollongong

    New South Wales

    2522

    Australia

Geographic Focus