FRESHWATER RESEARCHER HELPS BRIDGE THE GAP BETWEEN CYANOBACTERIA AND MODELS

Author: PhD Alyssa Giffin

Read time: 530 words about 5 minutes.

Welcome to part four of the five-part Transition article series, the sequel to the Emergent series, that follows ARI’s Post-Doc Research Fellows as they navigate the next stage of their academic journey post-PhD. Take a journey with them and hear about some of the lessons they have learnt and what drives their passion for their research.

Dr Man Xiao.   Photo: Man Xiao.

Today we put a spotlight on Dr Man Xiao, a multi-disciplinary freshwater researcher who is fascinated by the physical, chemical, and biological processes that drive cyanobacterial (blue-green algal) blooms in freshwater ecosystems. Man started her post-doc in ARI within Professor David Hamilton and Professor Michele Burford’s groups in 2014. Her long-term goal is to develop new approaches in which models can be used to inform management decisions in tackling cyanobacteria issues.

“There is still a large degree of uncertainty about how climate change will propagate through freshwater ecosystems, especially on the formation of cyanobacterial blooms”

What is your favourite aspect about your research?

I originally got into freshwater ecology in 2007 as a result of a water crisis caused by the toxic cyanobacterial blooms of Microcystis in Lake Taihu, the third largest freshwater lake in China. Since then I am always fascinated by algal physiology and tackling cyanobacteria issues using a combination of lab, field and modelling tools.

Why does your work matter?

Harmful cyanobacterial blooms have major effects on freshwater ecosystems across the globe. Australia, like many countries, spends millions on monitoring and managing blooms annually. However, there is still a large degree of uncertainty about how climate change will propagate through freshwater ecosystems, especially on the formation of cyanobacterial blooms.


Dr Man Xiao working in the research labs at Griffith University.    Photo: Man Xiao

What is your proudest achievement to date?

I moved to Australia six years ago doing my PhD, finished within 3.5 years, followed by a one-year post-doc position and currently another 2-year post-doc. All these happened within ARI! I am very proud of my hard work that has led me this far, and I feel very lucky to be at ARI to continue achieving my research goal and my career!

Where do you see your career taking you or where would you like to be in 5 years?

In 5 years, I hope I am still in academia. I am hoping to have a permanent position at a university or research centre. I would like to focus more on applied research, to apply my understanding of the physical, chemical and biological processes in a variety of models to forecast blooms.

How did you find the transition from PhD into being a Post-doc?

I found transitioning to a Post-doc is challenging but also helps me to grow into a more confident and competent person and scientist. Through working on multiple projects at the same time, I am getting better at prioritizing tasks according to their urgency and importance and using my time wisely!

Learn more:

Dr Man Xiao at the microscope.   Photo: Man Xiao.

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