BAMOS - Vol 35 No.1 Autumn 2022 Autumn 2022 - Page 12

BAMOS Autumn 2022

12 Article

together , do some preliminary proof of concept work and publish the final paper from my PhD . His offer was so generous and so unexpected . It felt too good to be true .
When I left David ’ s office that day , I was brimming with ideas , enthusiasm and a restored sense of faith in myself as a researcher . My disillusionment had been transformed into a sense of possibility , of rekindled passion for my work . It ’ s a feeling I am sure many of you recognise as a classic dose of Karoly magic .
So , in June 2008 , after two years in post-PhD limbo , I started as a research fellow at the University of Melbourne . Within a year , I ’ d secured a one million dollar ARC Linkage grant to fund the Southeastern Australian Recent Climate History initiative — known as the SEARCH project — which was an effort aimed to reconstruct past droughts using palaeoclimate records , early instrumental observations and historical documents .
During the development of the proposal , David taught me the art and science of developing strong and diverse research collaborations . In the end we had roped in twelve partner organisations spanning meteorology , hydrology and the humanities . All with the shared goal of reconstructing Australia ’ s climate record back to first European colonisation in 1788 and centuries beyond . Our partners included the Bureau of Meteorology , the Murray Darling Basin Authority , Melbourne Water , the National Library of Australia , and the State Libraries of New South Wales and Victoria , to name just a few .
The project was a huge success ; the team published more than twenty peer-reviewed publications , including the development of seminal drought and temperature reconstructions , and datasets that underpinned subsequent climate reconstruction work by others in the region and around the world . One of my proudest achievements from that era is working with David to help launch the career of our brilliant colleague , Linden Ashcroft , who is also here with us today . Another highlight was the SEARCH project being awarded the 2014 Eureka Prize for Excellence in Interdisciplinary Scientific Research — a national science prize sometimes referred to as the Oscars of Australian Science .
I will always be grateful to Karl and Peter for providing the crucial missing link that would unlock the potential of my career . I remember Karl ’ s single piece of advice for working with David : always follow his leads as nine times out of ten he is right . Over the decade that followed , Karl ’ s advice proved — time and time again — to be spot on .
During my time with David , I would go on to receive the University of Melbourne ’ s Deans Research Award , an ARC DECRA fellowship , and the AMOS Science Outreach Award . Based on over a decade of our work together , in 2018 I published my first general release book called Sunburnt Country : the history and future of climate change in Australia . It was the first literary non-fiction work on climate change that had been written for the public by a climatologist . David strongly supported my writing career , reading every line of the manuscript , writing the foreword , and drawing on his vast network to help me launch the book .
After David left for the CSIRO , I too , decided it was time to move on , and once again , he was there to support me . He helped me secure a sought-after tenured position at the Australian National University , where I have worked since 2019 . I ’ ve just put the final touches on my second general release book which covers my experience as an IPCC author on the Sixth Assessment Report . Once again , David has offered me his support to help our science reach the public as clearly and accurately as possible . I learned so much from watching him give an endless stream of public talks , media interviews and panel discussions spanning the sciences , the arts and absolutely everything in between .
It is no exaggeration to say that I would not be where I am today if it were not for David Karoly . His support of someone like me — a person from a completely different research field — reflects the kind of person David is . He is a man of incredible vision , generosity and spirit — someone I feel immensley honoured to have worked with . He ’ s a one in a million ; a living legend .
So on this monumental day of your retirement David , I want to thank you for everything you have done not only for me , but for every person that you have crossed paths with , for every project you have enriched with your enthusiasm , good-humour and intelligence . Thank you for your patience and support during difficult peirods battling climate change sceptics , and your encouragement and gudiance during times of transition .
While you officially sign off today , everyone here knows that this is in no way the end of the road for you . You have left an enormous legacy that will continue to live on through us all ; your immense body of scientific work will be recognised as seminal and visionary by generations to come .
I am incredibly honoured to have spent over a decade working with you ; thank you for being my mentor , a friend an an ongoing source of inspiration . I am grateful for everything you have done for me over the years — meeting you literally changed the course of my life .
I am excited to see what this next chapter will bring for you ; know that I stand ready to help you share the inspirational story of your extraordinary career with the public in any way that I can .
Congratulations on your retirement David ; you will be missed , but never , ever forgotten .