Inaugural Peter W Smith CSL Postgraduate Prize awarded to Lavenia Ratnarajah

Published 15 Sep 2015

Lavenia Ratnarajah (Lavy) is currently enrolled as a PhD student with the Institute for Marine and Antarctic Studies. Her PhD project involves investigating the role of whales and krill in recycling iron in the Southern Ocean.  Over the last year she worked very closely with Dr Ashley Townsend and Dr Thomas Rodemann from the CSL to measure iron and carbon content in samples of baleen whale and Antarctic krill. Results are published in PLoS One: : Ratnarajah L, Bowie AR, Lannuzel D, Meiners KM, Nicol S (2014) The Biogeochemical Role of Baleen Whales and Krill in Southern Ocean Nutrient Cycling. PLoS ONE 9(12): e114067. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0114067

The findings of this study attracted a lot of attention in the media, mainly because, for the first time, a quantitatively estimate the drawdown effects of the historical exploitation of whales on the recycling of iron in the Southern Ocean and its potential effects on the global carbon cycle was able to be measured. Media coverage on this project included multiple interviews on the ABC, an article in The Conversation, international newspaper articles (France, New Zealand, and Australia) and an invited talk to the Royal Society of Tasmania. 

The CSL was instrumental to the success of this project and all the attention it has received. In particular, Ravy received a lot of guidance and support from Dr Townswend. This is a new area of research and Dr Townsend  spent a lot of time with Ravy and her team in developing the sampling and analysis protocols. This project would not be successful without both the instruments at the CSL and the guidance from Drs Townsend and Rodemann.