2015 Geelong

As Australia’s peak professional body for marine scientists from all disciplines and for over 60 years has promoted all aspects of marine science in Australia. AMSA operates with a membership network of individuals and corporate affiliates as a not-for-profit organisation.

AMSA2015 Geelong

AMSA2015 – Geelong, Waterfron Campus of Deakin University: 6-9 July 2015 


AMSA2015 Conference was held at the Waterfron Campus of Deakin University, Geelong from 6-9 July 2015. The conference theme was Estuaries to Ocenas, which set the context for 12 thems and 4 symposia. 


Conference Report

Over 300 delegates attended the conference that was located at the picturesque Geelong Waterfront Campus of Deakin University. The refurbished building on the foreshore of Corio Bay was originally a wool store and provided the perfect multi-purpose space for the conference. The theme “Estuaries to Oceans” set the context for 12 themes and 4 symposia, which included estuarine ecosystems, biogeochemistry, invasive species, contamination, modelling, biogeography, monitoring evaluation and reporting, mapping and wastewater outfalls.

Highlights included our five plenary speakers starting with Professor Emma Johnston on the first day who outlined the complexities in detecting impacts from multiple stressors in our coastal waters. Dr. Beth Fulton’s plenary was full of tweetable quotes as she described ‘wicked problems’ and her ideas on how to solve these using maths, models and integrated management. Plenary speakers on the third day included the 2015 Jubilee award winner Professor Maria Byrne who presented her extensive work on echinoderms in a changing climate and 2014 Jubilee award winner Professor Geoff Jones who unraveled the mysteries of larval dispersal and population connectivity. The final plenary presentation from Professor Robert Costanza gave insights in to ways that we can model marine ecosystem services and move towards an ecologically sustainable economy.

This conference was the first time PEPs (“Presenting Electronic Posters”) were offered at an AMSA conference instead of the traditional printed poster. There were a total of 67 PEPs, which combined a short 5 minute oral presentation with an online version of the presentation accessible to anyone at the conference and afterwards (https://amsa2015.paperlessevent.com.au; username & password is AMSA2015). The post-conference feedback was very positive, with 88% of survey respondents agreeing PEPs were a good substitute for traditional posters, and 67% saying they would consider giving a PEP talk next year.

We had a fantastic contribution from our delegates on social media. Many delegates were on Twitter and Facebook giving a running commentary of catchy quotes and pictures of speakers and their slides. It proved to be a fantastic way to keep up with who was presenting on what in concurrent sessions. We now have 189 followers of @amsa_marine and there were over 27,000 impressions (number of times users saw AMSA related tweets) and over 1000 followers on Facebook with as many as 6000 post reach per week during the conference period. We hope that social media will continue to feature at conferences in the future, as it was a great way to network and improve connection between members.

There were several workshops held on the weekend prior to the conference. An early career researcher workshop “Ocean Careers: Growing your Professional Footprint” was attended by 18 enthusiastic Masters and PhD students and postdocs. Marine scientists from academic, government and industry backgrounds shared their experiences and advise on how to build a successful career. Workshops on the Sunday included an Introduction to R and generalized linear modeling workshops and a ‘Seagrass Research’ workshop. The seagrass workshop was attended by over 50 participants who enthusiastically discussed future directions in seagrass research and validated a nationwide seagrass risk assessment developed by researchers at Edith Cowan University, UQ, UNSW and Department of Water WA. The outcomes from the workshop are being collated and will be submitted for publication later in the year.

The Public Form “Estuaries to Oceans: What are the issues?” was a new event on the AMSA conference program. It was held on the Monday night and included a panel discussion and exhibition of marine photography and hands-on displays. Dr. Anthony Boxshall was the MC for the panel discussion and was fantastic at fielding questions and discussion from the attentive audience, even with an early equipment failure that left him with no iPad! The expert panel included leading marine scientists: Professor Emma Johnston (University of New South Wales), Dr Tim O’Hara (Museum Victoria), Dr Emma Jackson (Central Queensland University), Dr Beth Fulton (CSIRO) and Dr Peter Nichols (CSIRO).

There were 61 fantastic photos entered in the photo competition, with the overall prize going to Rowan Trebilco for his photo “Pebble Prints.” Other winners were “Hypselodoris bennetti mating” by Tom Davies in the Estuarine Life category and  Olaf Meynecke and Peter Macreadie who were joint winners in the Humans in the Marine World category for their photos, “Shark Dive” and “The ferryman and his dog Captain”. You can still see all the photos at https://www.flickr.com/groups/2857260@N21/.  Other exhibitions that were displayed during the conference in the main foyer included a photo exhibition “Seaweeds and Seascapes”, a collaboration between Alecia Bellgrove, Donna Squires (Deakin University photographer) and Melanie Wells (Deakin University Honours graduate) and a new range of seaweed inspired jewellery by Liv Jewellery (https://www.bylivonline.com).

The conference dinner on the Thursday night was a fantastic way to finish the conference and unwind after a busy week. It was held at The Pier restaurant at the end of the iconic Cunningham’s Pier, just a short walk from the conference venue. Prizes presented on the night included students awards for best oral and poster presentations, which went to Camille White, Shona Jennings, Alexis Marshall, Alicia Sutton, Brooke Sullivan, Kimberly Kliska, Harriet Davies, Simone Birrer, and Matthew Watson plus the Sherwood Award, which went to Lynda Avery for her groovy dancing.

The Organising Committee would like to thank the sponsors for their contributions to AMSA 2015 as without their generous support the conference would not have been possible. Thank you also to Jodi Morgan, Claire Heazelwood and their team at Deakin Events who were the conference organizers. The team did a fantastic job coordinating the pre-conference preparations and making everything run smoothly.

The handbook of program and abstracts is available to AMSA members after the conference.

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