Annastasia's Story

Anna in her laboratory

This article is one from 15 different Papua New Guinean scientists taken from the manuscript of the new Grade 9 Science Outcomes textbook prior to the design and editing processes currently being undertaken at Pearson Education Australia. This is Anna's story. I hope all the parents, teachers and students read and enjoy it. More scientists’ stories will appear here during the next few months. This photograph is of Anna in the laboratory working with her plants.

Brian Robertson

My name is Ms Annastasia Priscilla Kawi and I come from Karawap village, Boikin East Sepik Province. I am employed by the National Agricultural Research Institute (NARI) as a scientist with the Entomology section based at the Islands Regional Centre, Kerevat, East New Britain Province. I graduated with a Masters in Crop Protection from University of Queensland in July 2008.

Currently I am the Project Leader of the Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research (ACIAR) funded project on “ the biological control of Mikania micrantha in PNG”. Mikania micrantha (mile-a-minute) is a serious weed having significant implications for plantation crops (cocoa, coconut, oil palm etc), subsistence food gardens and the natural environment. The weed smoothers plantation crops and food crops causing competition for soil nutrients, reducing the photosynthesis process and therefore causing unwanted deaths in young crop stages. The main purpose of this project is to introduce a Biological Control Agent (BCA). The BCA will be mass reared, released into the field and then we will monitor the impact of the agent in managing the growth of mikania weed. The BCA is a pathogen rust fungus—Puccinia spegazzinii. It is the first of its kind to be used in weed management in PNG. The main tasks in my job are to

  • successfully mass rear the agent and release it into the field in lowland provinces where mikania weed is present
  • conduct scientific studies to monitor the impact of the rust fungus on mikania weed biomass, its population density and its spread over time
  • monitor the rust establishment in all lowland provinces where it was released and confirm its host specificity
  • conduct impact assessment surveys and teach awareness of the impact of the biocontrol on mikania weed during field days, community meetings and provincial field trips
  • produce reports on project activities as required by the funding agent (ACIAR) and my employer (NARI).

This research is important for several reasons

  1. Weeds are a problem to subsistence and commercial farming systems and management and field control depends on one’s capabilities. Commercial setups can afford the costs of herbicide when spraying large hectares of land. However to subsistence farmers, herbicides are expensive and not affordable on a regularly basis. Additionally slashing is tedious and time consuming. Therefore, biological control is the alternate method of good field control as fewer costs are involved and importantly it is also environmentally friendly and has no bad effect on the environment when compared to herbicide sprays. Biological control is a good option for pest management in this case.
  2. It is important that the public, especially the up-coming generation know about the presence and the importance of biological control agents and are able to appreciate their presence in our natural environment. Creating the initial awareness is very important so that people can further transfer the information. Distribution of awareness posters and pamphlets enables the public to see the picture and relate this to real field situations.
  3. Conducting scientific studies on the impact of the biocontrol agent in the laboratory and field conditions is very important so that the facts about biocontrol in managing weeds are reported accurately. Other scientists can use written articles in the future for reference. Facts and figures must always be available to back up the research observations and conclusions. This kind of research needs to be statistically analyzed before accurate conclusions can be drawn and this is the main task I have been involved in.

I enjoy my profession because I believe that the biocontrol package that I’m mandated to deliver to the rural farming communities will assist in improving their livelihood. It will assist people in controlling the mikania problem in their subsistence gardens.

Currently, the work involves a lot of travelling to other provinces, creating contacts and meetings with provincial DPI offices, colleagues from sister research stations, NGO workers and interested public and the villagers. This travel has enabled me to tell people what research NARI has done on weed management in the past and present. The exciting part is I get to travel and explore many sites in lowland provinces to find the presence of mikania weed and release the biocontrol agent. I also enjoy meeting colleagues and briefing them about the impact of the biocontrol agent and how it works in the field. Most unique is the fact that this pathogen is the first to be introduced in PNG and what information and knowledge I have learnt from working with this biocontrol is a bonus for me because it is broadening my knowledge as well as improving NARI’s service.

The information collated from the impact studies conducted in the laboratory and the field is new for PNG and thus has great potential for publication in peer reviewed journals. Other Pacific Island countries such as (Solomon Islands, Vanuatu, Samoa) would have mikania weed and will be eager to learn how successful control has been in PNG before they try to implement biocontrol in their countries.

I was originally engaged at NARI as a Research technician assisting in collating data for 3 ACIAR funded projects on

  • Identification and management of fruit flies in PNG,
  • Management of Fruit flies (Diptera: Tephritidae), a serious pest of fruits and vegetables,
  • Management of Red Banded Mango caterpillar (Deanolis sublimbalis), a serous pest of mangos.

My main task was assisting scientists involved in these projects to implement project activities and achieve milestones within the given timeframe. However due to my work commitment and more than 20 years experience, I was offered a scholarship to study at University of Queensland (Gatton campus) and obtain my Masters in Plant Protection. My studies have allowed me to be recognized by NARI as a scientist in my own right, and that was a major achievement in my career life. For the future, as a scientist, I intend to develop more project proposals on Biological control, and Crop protection with other NAIS organizations and overseas collaborators and continue to deliver these improved technologies to the farming communities to improve their livelihood and food security.

In 1981 and 1982 I was a student at Manus High and took Agriculture as a subject. We had to plant and maintain small plots of different vegetables as a course requirement for assessment. The class was also scheduled to clean pig pens and feed them and this built up my interest and desire to study Agriculture after Grade10.

After graduating from school my career began with NARI and included—conducting agro-forestry studies with intercropping food crops and cocoa, conducting market surveys, maintaining and describing different yam varieties, and pest management on vegetables and staple crops. The different duties I was involved in helped built up my knowledge and work experiences. It brought me to a stage where work was my entire commitment. I felt I had to assist in successfully achieving the funded project milestones.

Through my participation in ACIAR projects and collaborating with well-known Australian scientists (Fruit flies & Red Banded Mango caterpillar projects) I had the good fortune to become very experienced in my field of work. Even though I don’t have Grade 12 or a first degree from a PNG University, my 20 of years work experience guaranteed me a place to study and obtain a Masters degree from a recognized University in the world. I was a Research technician before I went away for studies, and after completing my studies I am now referred to as a scientist. This gives me great satisfaction.

During the earlier years of my career, I saw my colleagues going away for studies with their families or travelling abroad for workshops and meetings and I had this feeling that ‘I wish I was like them’. I had a motto and that was Dedication (to my work and employer), Devotion (Physically & Spiritually) and Determination (If they can do it I believe I can do it too). The motto enabled me to continue work harder and produce qualitative and quantitative results, which helped to impress my employer.

Additional note

To the up coming scientist, after graduating from a University with Agriculture Degrees, I encourage you to explore or be exposed to real work situations in the field before trying to further your ambitions. By doing that you will gain work experience in different fields of agriculture and it will broaden your knowledge. Learn to evaluate situations, write reports, develop contacts with peer groups etc. You will also be able to relate situations from theory (books) to the practical (hands on). This will potentially groom you to be a knowledgeable scientist able to work and to serve the rural communities.

Jeffrey's Story

Jeffrey at Work

This article is one from 15 different Papua New Guinean scientists taken from the manuscript of the new Grade 9 Science Outcomes textbook prior to the design and editing processes currently being undertaken at Pearson Education Australia. This is Jeffrey’s story. I hope all the parents, teachers and students read and enjoy it. More scientists’ stories will appear here during the next few months. This photograph is of Jeffrey and a colleague working in the computer lab.

Brian Robertson

My name is Jeffrey Mane Febi and I am a Mud logging Geologist. I work in the petroleum industry where we drill holes called wellbores into the earth to explore for oil and gas using drilling rigs. I collect and analyze samples of rocks we’re drilling through. I also monitor and analyze the amount and types of gasses and oil, and the amount of Hydrogen Sulfide gas (which is poisonous and can kill) coming out of wellbores.

An interesting aspect of my job is discovering oil and or gas. I travel quite a lot around Papua New Guinea and Australia to work and this is what I enjoy the most. An even more interesting and wonderful aspect of my job is the care we take to minimize the destruction to the environment we work in. It is company policy to collect, pack and transport all wastes we produce to specially designed places to burn or recycle. In doing so, we help to keep our environment clean and free of harmful substances.

My job in the petroleum industry is an important one. I drill for oil and gas, which in turn are processed and converted into many products that we use every day of our lives. Examples of products from oil are; kerosene, candles, medicine (e.g. Aspirin), clothes, bitumen, rubber, and CD/DVDs. Examples of products from gas are; gas for cooking, gas used in hospitals to sterilize equipment, and gas for refrigerators. Without these products the world would be an unpleasant place to live in. So it is important to continue to explore for oil and gas until a reliable alternative energy source to replace oil and gas is discovered and developed for use.

I have been working really hard and faithfully despite many challenges at work and home. I hope to win my boss’s confidence and trust so I can be promoted and eventually become a manager within our company. It is not an easy task but through commitment and dedication I believe this can be achieved.

After graduating from the University of Papua New Guinea (UPNG) with an Honours degree in Geophysics (a branch of science that applies principles of Physics to measure the properties of the Earth), I got a job at the PNG Department of Petroleum and Energy (DPE). While working there, I used to see and read technical reports from oil fields. The interpretation of these reports is very fascinating. When you are done interpreting, you would know almost everything that had happened during the drilling of a well even though you’re not there. You would also know if oil and gas were discovered. This interested me so much; I started seeking job opportunities in the petroleum industry and eventually got my current job.

The next time you see a rock, look at it closely. It has a long and interesting story to tell. You will only know its life’s story when you become a geologist so work hard at school.

Chris's Story

Chris's Photo

This article is one from 15 different Papua New Guinean scientists taken from the manuscript of the new Grade 9 Science Outcomes textbook prior to the design and editing processes currently being undertaken at Pearson Education Australia. This is Chris’s story. I hope all the parents, teachers and students read and enjoy it. More scientists’ stories will appear here during the next few months.

This photograph is of Chris working in the forest at night.

Brian Robertson

My name is Chris Dahl. I am currently employed as acting Director and a research supervisor with the New Guinea Binatang Research Center based in Madang, Papua New Guinea. I come from Riwo village in Madang and was born on Sept 16, 1975, the same day that Papua New Guinea was –born’ as a country. Like most children in the village, I would wake up early in the morning and prepare for the 15km walk to Alexishafen Primary School.

In 1990, I was accepted at Tusbab High School and completed Grade 10 in 1993. I needed funds to buy graduation clothes so I got a part time job with the Christensen Research Institute (CRI), which was close to my village. I enjoyed the work and from then on decided to be a scientist. After graduation from Tusbab I went back to see the Director of CRI, Larry Orsak and he gave me a job trapping butterflies and moths. Meanwhile my study continued during years 11 and 12 through the Centre of Distance Education at the Madang Matriculation Studies Centre. All this time my love of working and studying nature was growing.

My job is always exciting for me particularly the research part because you first need to design the research, decide on the protocols (the methods) and travel to field sites to collect your data. This involves interacting with the local landowners, the community and village assistants. My job involves exploring our beautiful natural forest areas, studying the ecology, the distributional pattern and biology of frogs, learning how local people live traditionally and learning about their hunting practices, and their lifestyles. Occasionally I have the great thrill of discovering a species of animal completely new to science.

The job is important because the results of my studies are essential for publication in overseas science journals and for the conservation of our Papua New Guinean biodiversity. We are one of the countries in the world that has a greater biodiversity than just about anywhere else. Data important for knowing how future changes might affect forest structure and how we might develop good conservation management plans are essential. This is required so that we can conserve our biodiversity for future generations. Not many people want to spend months in the remote areas of PNG with no access roads, and with only limited food supplies to complete the patrol but I love it.

I have also studied marine biology particularly the coral reefs around Madang province. The Madang lagoon contains some of the best coral reef system and species of fish and marine organisms found anywhere in the world. In 1997 I took a scuba diving course to become a certified scuba diver and later that year attended a reef-monitoring course at the Motupore Research Centre in Port Moresby. Monitoring coral reefs underwater is like surveying the forest. You notice how much life is destroyed when corals are ruined by destructive illegal dynamite fishing, careless anchoring of canoes, boats and recreational activities such as scuba diving.

After CRI closed in 1999, I worked with the New Guinea Binatang Research Centre. In 2000 I applied and was accepted to UPNG to study science, majoring in biology including entomology, ecology, vertebrate and invertebrate biology, ethno-biology, taxonomy and cell biology. I graduated in 2003 but continued on to do an honours degree.

I was lucky to receive financial support from Conservation International to continue studies and received training during this time from frog expert Steve Richards, from the South Australian Museum; who was my Honours supervisor. In 2004, I surveyed frogs on Mt Michael in the Eastern Highlands province and Mt Elimbari in Chimbu and we found many species that were endangered because of habitat loss.

Identifying frog species in the field is a very tricky business. It involves tracking frog calls from tiny frogs, some even as small as 12 mm long! The task is made more difficult because different species look the same and the only way to tell them apart is by their call. I was successful however and now have a new frog species with “my” name. The scientific name of this frog is Litoria chrisdahli. It is a green tree frog.

I also have the opportunity to travel beyond PNG occasionally and learn more about how I can be more efficient at what I do and this is very exciting. In September 2005 I travelled to Panama, in South America and to the Bell Museum of Natural History at the University of Minnesota to learn more about research methods in connection with plant and animal collections.

I hope my career might eventually take me into teaching and always to becoming a more experienced and skilled research scientist.

When I am relaxing I enjoy gardening, playing soccer, reading and writing.

You can learn all about where I work by going to our web site at

New Titles

Just a few days ago I completed the up-loading of most of the Pearson titles onto this site and all teachers and parents in PNG now have many more school books to choose from. No matter what the school subject, or at what level, there is surely a quality book there for your son or daughter. If not then Contact Us and let me know what is missing. I will do my best to put you on the right track.

Some of these books do not have cover illustrations but I am getting in touch with Pearson Education Australia this week to solve this problem. I hate seeing a book without the appropriate cover but at least we have the PNG flag flying there instead, in the meantime!

If you have the time I would love if parents or teachers or students had the time to write something on the Forums and let me know what you think of the site and how I might improve it for you.

While you are on this site read the stories from some students from Kerevat Primary school on the Forums section.

Thank you, Brian Robertson

Stanley's Story

This article is one from 15 different Papua New Guinean scientists taken from the manuscript of the new Grade 9 Science Outcomes textbook prior to the design and editing processes currently being undertaken at Pearson Education Australia. This is Stanley’s story. I hope all the parents, teachers and students read and enjoy it. More scientists’ stories will appear here during the next few months.

This photograph is of Stanley at a conference somewhere working to interest people in investing in PNG petroleum resources.

Brian Robertson

Site owner

Stanley at Conference

My name is Stanley Pono. I come from Rei village on Lou Island in the Manus Province. I attended primary school on my island, high school at Kambubu, East New Britain Province and Aiyura National High School, Eastern Highlands Province before entering the Science stream at the University of PNG.

At an early age I always wanted to be a builder but my parents encouraged me to do something else. At Aiyura we got a visit from a group of students from the University of PNG Medical School. They introduced us to the different medical fields and one of these was Psychiatry—all about studying and treating mental disease. I was so impressed just by the name that from then on I made up my mind to be a brain doctor. I retained this ambition until I reached University.

During my second year at UPNG I was exposed to the other science fields and found Physics very fascinating but one of the most difficult so I challenged myself to take it up and graduated with a bachelor of science in 1983 majoring in Physics. I was also interested in teaching and successfully completed a one year post-graduate diploma in education also at UPNG and graduated in 1985. You will note that I kept changing my field of interest through days at school and University as I continued to learn and discover new things. I also learned then, that one should never stop learning, as this is the key to success.

I taught science and mathematics at secondary schools which I enjoyed very much for about 3 years but I thought I was missing something more challenging so I joined the Geological Survey, Department of Mineral s and Energy as a Trainee Petroleum Geophysicist. I was given a choice to become a Volcanologist, someone who studies volcanoes including their formation, signs of eruption and other aspects of activity or to become a petroleum geophysicist. A petroleum geophysicist is someone who uses measurements of gravity, of magnetic fields, radioactivity, heat flow, electrical current and seismic data—in the search for oil & gas. I chose to become a petroleum geophysicist in 1988. Gas had just been discovered at Hides and Oil at Kutubu and PNG was planning for construction and first production and eventually export of oil in 1992. It was an exciting time to be one of the first to be trained as a petroleum geophysicist in PNG.

I was attached through a fellowship scheme to the hydrocarbon group at the South Pacific Geosciences Technical Secretariat in Fiji in my first year of work with the department. On my return I was sponsored by Pecten International Company, a subsidiary of Shell, to study geophysics and the technology of petroleum exploration at Pecten’s offices and at the University of Houston, Texas, USA. I worked primarily on computer processing and the interpretation of geophysical data. That was a real eye opener to the leading edge technology of oil and gas exploration.

Geophysics is the main field of science used for exploring and learning about the earth as a whole and one of the most important tools for exploring near the earth’s surface.

A Geophysicist needs different geophysical methods, or tools, to solve different kinds of problems. Different geophysical tools measure different physical properties. (Refer to paragraph 4 above)

These methods can tell something about the shape of the earth, shape and size of sediments, distribution of certain rock types, age of rocks, location of minerals, and the liklihood of oil and gas accumulation.

Of all the methods used the seismic methods are the most important. There are a variety of applications using seismic methods but it takes many people and is expensive.

A great depth of knowledge and skill is required for this type of work. The oil industry is a risky business. Much of the risk arises because science has not yet discovered a direct method of finding oil and gas, or of assessing the quantities of oil and gas which the earth may contain. What is relied on is the geophysicists skill in interpreting the sciesmic data.

These indirect methods for exploring for oil and gas methods—both geological and geophysical do not indicate the presence of oil or gas itself, but only the geological situation where accumulations of petroleum are possible. All geophysical methods, involve taking physical measurements at or near the surface of the ground, and then we try to interpret the measurement in terms of what might be below. Unfortunately, because there is no one-to-one relation between the physical measurement at the surface and the presence of petroleum at depth, this interpretation is often wrong. As a result the oil industry drills a large number of dry (unsuccessful) wells The task of a petroleum geophysicist is to set out and understand geophysical methods, and to try to improve the odds, for even a modest improvement, in the liklihood of finding oil or gas, would be of major economic significance.

I returned from my studies in the US and armed with my new knowledge and skills and I joined Geco-Prakla Geophysical Company, now Western Geco, one of the major geophysical services companies in the world, as a Field Geophysicist. This took me to the most remote places through rivers, swamps, lakes, mountains in the Western, Gulf, Southern Highlands and Sepik Provinces, PNG and even to the desert of Tunisia in North Africa.

We used the seismic method as the main tool to map the sub-surface for oil and Gas on behalf of companies before they drilled for oil and gas. In this method we use artificially generated energy waves (sound waves) from explosives on the ground surface or very large vibrating trucks over accessible areas like the desert in North Africa. The idea is to make a bang on the ground surface and listen for the (echo) waves/disturbance/signal bouncing off the different layers under the ground and record the time for the signal/wave to travel from the ground surface and bounce off the different rock layers and back to the surface. From this an image or a map of the subsurface can be made.

I did not stop there as I then joined the Department of Petroleum and Energy (DPE) and left for Norway to learn more of the Oil and Gas business management and operations. After that I decided to go back to school and I chose to go to the University of Dundee, Scotland, UK where I completed a Degree of Master of Science in Energy Studies in 2000. My thesis was titled “Market Prospects for PNG Natural Gas”. This includes the prospects for the massive PNG Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) Project now underway. A copy of my thesis can be found in the New Guinea Collection of the UPNG Library and in the DPE Petroleum Archive.

My job at the DPE involved the assessment and promotion of PNG’s oil and gas resource potential to investors all over the world. This took me to places like, USA, Canada, UK, Spain, Australia and Singapore. In this job you get to see the world and the travelling never stops!

I left DPE in 2006 and joined Fugro, also a major geophysical services company. During that year Fugro working together with DPE carried out the largest offshore seismic survey in the southern waters of PNG. This was to promote this part of PNG to exploration companies.

I am now working for myself as a consultant to the mining and petroleum industry. During my free time I help my communities back home on their cocoa project. I enjoy working with my communities and someday soon I may decide to return home where I am needed most. I also like to listen to country & western and rock music and love fishing and hunting. I like the outdoor life.

Stanley Poso’ol Pono

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