I have been very interested in water, rivers and lake issues since I was a teenager. One of the main reasons that I chose to pursue ecology research as my career is probably because I heard a story about my grandfather’s friend when I was in high school. She is a Professor and works at an institute of the Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS), as a freshwater ecologist. I heard some stories about her dedicating most of her efforts in life to her research career. After I entered CAS as a student, I knew more about the issues of lakes and rivers than ever. I learned where water quality was degraded and algal blooms occurred more and more often and I was really keen to understand the mechanics of these phenomena and to help make rivers sustainable. I know it is a very difficult task in China, which is a developing country, and has a huge population.
I was very lucky in that I obtained an opportunity to study at the Australian Rivers Institute (ARI) at Griffith University. My principal supervisor, Professor Stuart E. Bunn, developed the bridge between the Chinese Academy of Sciences and the Australian Rivers Institute at Griffith University from about 2009. When I met him at the CAS, I realized that the Australian Rivers Institute was a world leader in research on rivers, coasts and catchments and I was determined that I would/should be involved in ARI. I am lucky that I am the first PhD student/candidate coming from the China mainland to the ARI.
Certainly, sometimes I have felt confused and lost during the process of the pursuit of my dream. I was not sure that the public would be interested in my research papers. I was not sure if policy makers would look at my research work. If they were not interested and did not read my research, and then did not develop new management policies regarding river ecology, to support the sustainable use and conservation of the world water resources, then what is the meaning of my research? During the journey of my PhD study, sometimes I have doubted myself and whether I was right to choose ‘research in ecology’ as my career, because I thought I had a limited capacity to learn, think and create – but I pushed through this doubt and have succeeded in achieving my goal.
Finally, I have been proud of being member of the ARI at Griffith, and have enjoyed the last five years that I have worked and studied with the ARI at Griffith. Even though sometimes I experienced some negative emotions like being lonely or homesick I promise I will be back and visiting the ARI and Griffith often in future.
Xiang Tan is a research student with the Australian Rivers Institute. She has published six high quality papers in international journals such as the Journal of Environmental Management and the Journal of Environmental informatics in the past three years of research at Griffith.
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