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Student Botanical Intern Program 2002

Participants and Institutions

2002 represents the tenth year that the Student Botanical Intern Program has been run. A total of 26 applications were received for the Program, with 18 placements offered and 17 accepted. In total, 17 interns successfully completed the Program in 2002. The number of applications received this year was comparable to numbers in recent years.

Institutions Represented

2002 Interns came from:

Undergraduates

Australian National University (4)
University of Canberra (1)
University of New England (3)
University of Queensland (1)
Central Queensland University (1)
Macquarie University (1)
University of Melbourne - Burnley College (1)
University of Newcastle (1)
University of Technology, Sydney (1)

Graduates

University of Wollongong (1)
James Cook University (1)
Boston University, U.S.A. (1)

Recruitment Trends

Eleven Australian universities were represented along with a Boston University (USA) graduate. As would be expected, Canberra-based institutions were the best represented with five students from the ANU, however interest from UC remains low, with only one application received for 2002. Three UNE students took part in the internship this year reflecting the strength in botanical training found at this institution. The trend of low numbers from Sydney continues, with only two students taking part in the program. There was no representative from the ANBG Living Collections this year.

The 2002 interns took the opportunity of meeting past interns (representatives from most years) at a dinner organised in the second last week of the program. Overall participants thought it was a good networking opportunity for the 2002 interns with regard to future education and employment prospects.

Work Output

Output achieved by Interns during 2002 is roughly equal to 1.7 year’s work (of an entry-level TO), based on a 200-day working year. This is comparable with output achieved in previous years (the average over 1999-2001 being 1.7 years).

There was a major push to process herbarium specimens identified as being in priority groups for the AVH project this year. Intern labour was directed largely to the processing of Poaceae, Myrtaceae and priority weed groups. This work included mounting and incorporation of vascular and non-vascular specimens, identification of specimens, assistance with loans and exchange, databasing, determining specimen geocodes, spirit collection maintenance and general lab and herbarium tasks.

Following the success of the four-day residential field trip to Jervis Bay over the last couple of years, it was decided to continue this exercise in 2002. The main focus of this year’s trip was to conduct a mock botanical survey of a patch of coastal bush near the South Coast town of Manyana. Interns had to collect as many plants from the area as possible, identify them and make a small report all in the one day. So for those who think it’s just a trip to the beach, its so much more!

Assistance was also provided to various research groups such as Fire Ecology, cryptogams, Cakile host-pathogen work, Orchids, Pultenaea and the testing of the "pea key" interactive product. Long term backlog collections (some dating to the thirties) stored in the Herbarium link were processed ready for databasing; these specimens are then in the collection ready for the AVH databasers. An estimate of the "fullness" of the herbarium compactus pigeonholes was also conducted to help plan for future expansion needs. See attachment for detailed work outputs.

Publicity

The 2002 Program attracted some media attention; the Canberra Times published an article on 6 March 2002 that highlighted the Student Botanical Intern Program and their contribution toward the Australia’s Virtual Herbarium. The article indicated that this year’s students had completed databasing 6 million specimens during their internship !

Evaluation

Overall, the 2002 Interns Program was very successful. Work output was high, and covered a similar range of tasks to previous years along with a focus on processing priority herbarium material for the AVH project. Output achieved by Interns during 2002 is roughly equal to 1.7 year’s work, based on a 200-day working year.

All Interns were also provided with Evaluation Forms for the Program, and overall feedback has been very positive.

Concerns and Issues

No major difficulties were encountered during the running of the 2002 Program. IT support was handed over to Plant Industry IT this year. While support was good, email had to be set up on the EA network linked to web accessible accounts for interns to be able to read them on the CSIRO network. This computer doublehandling was frustrating for interns and staff alike.

A few institutions (eg. Uni of Newcastle) resumed teaching one week earlier than the Internship finished, resulting in one student having to finish the program early.

The perennial problem of accommodation costs for interstate participants remains a major issue. Typically past interns have stayed in ANU Colleges; this trend was not continued in 2002 due to price increases.

Budgetting

Overall costs come out at $5771 to run the 2002 Interns Program, slightly more expensive than 2001 (at $5570). As for 2001, most of this cost was generated by the residential fieldtrip, and associated vehicle hire and fuel costs.

Acknowledgements

The success of the 2002 Program is in no small part due to the considerable efforts of a number of Centre staff, outside academics and others who freely gave their time to present lectures and training sessions, as well as providing supervision for Intern work teams. We are most grateful to all concerned. Thanks are also due to all Centre staff, especially those at the Herbarium, for their tolerance, enthusiasm and support during the course of the Program. On a personal note, I would like to thank Brendan Lepschi who made the handover of the Coordination role to myself so much easier by his support and encouragement.

[Anthony Whalen]


WORK OUTPUT

VASCULAR SPECIMEN MOUNTING AND INCORPORATION (CSIRO SITE)

OTHER (VASCULAR) CURATORIAL ACTIVITIES (CSIRO SITE)

ANBG SITE ACTIVITY (including CRYPTOGAMS)

LOANS & EXCHANGE

DIRECT RESEARCH-GROUP SUPPORT

DATABASING

MISCELLANEOUS TASKS


Updated 9 August, 2002 by Murray Fagg (anbg-info@anbg.gov.au)