Stable isotopes conference at the Centre for Carbon Water and Food

18 March 2013

The Faculty of Agriculture and Environment recently hosted the first Stable Isotopes in Biosphere Systems (SIBS) workshop, which took place February 3-10 at the new Centre for Carbon Water and Food at the Cobbitty campus of the University of Sydney and was co-sponsored by the Australian National University.

The behaviour of stable isotopes is increasingly used to decipher and monitor biosphere processes across a wide range of spatial and temporal scales. SIBS focused on the theory and applications of stable isotopes of carbon, nitrogen, hydrogen and oxygen in the plant, soil, atmosphere interface. Studying the variations in the abundance of stable isotopes of these elements has innumerable applications, from understanding basic biological transformations at the molecular and cellular level to tracking the movement, dynamics and sources of matter across whole ecosystems and landscapes. Recent stable isotopes applications and newly developed capabilities for their analysis are allowing us to tackle previously unanswerable questions. The field is as active as ever particularly in the context of environmental change.

SIBS capitalized on the expertise on isotopic approaches housed in the FAE and pulled together over twenty five students and fifteen lecturers from across Australia and Europe including: University of Sydney, Australian National University, Macquarie University, University of Adelaide, University of Technology-Sydney, Charles Darwin University, University of Western Australia, University of Western Sydney, Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation, the Max Planck Institute and Humboldt University-Berlin.

Learning was structured around lectures by specialists and student-led projects. Students had the opportunity to spend eight days working one-to-one with leading scientists on understanding stable isotope principles, and formulating and executing their own projects.

SIBS was extremely well received by both students and lecturers. New research ideas and collaborations were a major outcome of the course. SIBS is now scheduled to be an annual event which will foster the growth of stable isotope research throughout Australia.

Contact: Dr Kevin Simmonin

Phone: +61 2 9351 8882

Email: 310b145d566b31103f265a5921313838523e060c43500839632922