Notes from Joe – our Fulbright in Australia
Joe Pollock is a College of Charleston Master’s of Science in Marine Biology candidate who was granted with a Fulbright Scholarship to study in Australia. He touches base with us every now and again when he comes up for air. Below is one of his most recent letters to us back home. Enjoy the pictures. We sure did!
Hello again from Down Unda,
I haven’t written in a while and I don’t want anyone to think I’ve fallen off the other side of the world so I thought I should drop a quick line. Things in Oz are goin’ well. There was a pretty awful period when we had rains of biblical proportions. We literally had 40 days and 40 nights of rain, nonstop! It was miserable, but now the sun has reemerged and it seems like the rainy season should be about over for the year. The sun has let me get back outside and I’m trying to make up for lost time. I’ve been hiking out on Magnetic Island, bouldering/swimming/surfing in Bowen, joined a beach volleyball team (we’re 3 for 3… in the lowest bracket, but oh well), and I’ve even started playing ice hockey again. I haven’t really played since they tore down the old Civic Center rink when I was in middle school so it’s been pretty awesome to get back on the ice.
My research has been going fairly smoothly so far. I’m working to develop tools to accurately diagnose coral diseases on the Great Barrier Reef (GBR) and around the world. Currently, there are not really any diagnostic tools, so coral diseases are distinguished almost exclusively on their macroscopic appearance (it’s like trying to identify a human disease just by looking at the patient). I think that it is an important avenue of investigation and I have been making progress. I have developed a technique to detect the pathogen responsible for the coral disease White Syndrome on the GBR and coral bleaching in the Red Sea and Indian Ocean. Right now, I am running aquarium experiments to tests it’s “real world” potential. I’m hoping it will work!!
Next week, I head down to Tasmania for a Fulbright retreat. Tazzy is beautiful and the other Fulbright kids are pretty fun so I’m definitely looking forward to it. We’re renting some cars so we can explore all around the island. If you’ve never seen photos of Tasmania, it’s a lot like New Zealand, with glacier-cut valleys, high lakes, waterfalls, and dense-green foliage (or as they say in Oz fo-lage).
I came to the realization the other day when I was buying a bottle of Vegemite that I may have been in Australia too long. I’ve become completely accustomed to driving on the left side of the road (I still try and get in on the wrong side of the car though), I’ve started using Ozzy phrases (I used to think that anyone who used the word “reckon” was a huge redneck), and I’ve started wearing more flouro than a 1980’s ski video (it’s really in here). I will be heading back State-side before too long though. I’m planning to return in the late-Spring or early-Summer, probably sometime in June.