CANDID CAMERA: Southern Cross University researcher Luke Jeffrey has earned kudos in Nature's Science at Work photo competition.
CANDID CAMERA: Southern Cross University researcher Luke Jeffrey has earned kudos in Nature's Science at Work photo competition. Luke Jeffery

Snapper did help... after taking this award-winning pic

IF EVER there was an image to dispel the myth science is simply about white lab coats and microscopes, then this photo of a Southern Cross University researcher stuck in a swamp is it.

The international journal Nature thought so too, when they awarded the photographer Luke Jeffrey a gong in its annual Science at Work photograph competition.

The image is of Mr Jeffrey's colleague Ashly McMahon as he attempted to save his four-wheel drive after it was bogged while completing a water sample in the wetlands at Cudgen Nature Reserve back in 2015.

"We weren't going anywhere fast," Mr Jeffrey said.

"I was told it's always a good idea to document all your fieldwork because you never know when you'll need a photo for a seminar or a presentation, so I pulled out my phone.

"Here's Ash trying to save his car from getting swallowed up by a wetland swamp.

"If you want to get stuck in the field with someone, Ash is the guy. He wasn't worried at all.

"He knows what he's doing."

Nature's Science at Work competition, now in its second year, celebrates the diversity and importance of the research that scientists devote their lives to.

This year 330 entries from around the world were submitted, with one overall winner, six winners and four runners-up selected.

Mr Jeffrey was awarded runner-up for his efforts.

"It's a good competition," he said.

"Science has the reputation of white lab coats, working in an office or lecturing so it's kind of cool to see all the other scientists doing their thing in the field to create awareness about what we really do."

At the time the pair had been chasing flood conditions as part of Luke's Honours research into groundwater in acid sulfate soils and how those affect carbon dioxide emissions from a wetland.

"Years ago a lot of that work involved taking grab samples from the field and returning to the lab for testing on expensive machines," Mr Jeffrey said.

"But in this day and age a lot of that technology is portable so you can take equipment into the field and measure these parameters in situ."



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