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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

Rosa's Story

This article is one from 15 different Papua New Guinean scienctists 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 Rosa’s story. I hope all the parents, teachers and students reading this enjoy it. More scientists’ stories will appear here during the next few months.

This photograph is of Rosa busy in the field making notes about a very healthy looking casava crop.

Brian Robertson

Site owner

Mrs Rosa Naipo Kambuou is the Co-ordinator of the National Agricultural Research Institute’s (NARI) National Genetic Resources Program based at the NARI Southern Regional Centre, Laloki.  She hails from Lido village in Vanimo, Sandaun Province and holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Tropical Agriculture from the University of Papua New Guinea and a Master of Science Degree in Conservation and Utilization of Plant Genetic Resources from Birmingham University, United Kingdom.

Rosa in Cassava

Rosa is the first female Agricultural Scientist to serve her country as a Researcher and an Administrator with the National Department of Agriculture and Livestock (DAL) having started with the then Department of Agriculture, Stocks and Fisheries (DASF) in the late seventies.  She has extensive experience as an Agronomist during which she once occupied the Position of a Chief Agronomist with DAL.

Rosa has authored and published some 19 papers with fellow NARI Scientists. She has been with NARI since its formative years and also has been part of the NARI planning team.

From a humble and rural upbringing, Rosa loves gardening and collecting food from the wild habitats and harvesting marine resources to contribute to the family’s upkeep.  She belongs to a farming and fishing community, which shaped her interest in becoming an agriculturalist and then into studying plant genetic resources.

Rosa says that it is very challenging to work as an Agricultural Scientist (Agronomist) in PNG because of the complex agricultural systems of the country and the diverse traditional practices and norms of different societies in PNG.  The diversity in food crop species and farm animals pose yet another challenge for the researchers of our country.  The diversity of these natural resources needs to be properly conserved and maintained for future use.  The challenges put forward by the effects of ‘climate change’ are real and are here to stay.  As the Coordinator of NARI’s Genetic Resources Programme, Rosa’s job is to ensure that the programme is effectively conserving and maintaining the rich food crop and farm animal diversity of the country. Loosing this diversity would mean ‘food and nutritional insecurity’ for over 85% of our rural populace.

The genetic diversity of the PNG staple food crop species are conserved and maintained in field collections or ‘gene-banks’ at NARI Programme Centers throughout the country.  From these field collections, Rosa’s research team then select the suitable germplasm for using in Crop Improvement Programmes or for screening for pest and disease resistance or for tolerance to effects of climate change (climate ready crop species).  Conservation and safe keeping of the genetic diversity of our food crops and farm animals is very important because these resources provide the ‘raw’ or ‘basic’ materials for other scientists like ‘Breeders’ to use to improve varieties or breeds of farm animals.

Our climate has changed and we need to produce food crop varieties and breeds of farm animals that can adapt to change in the climate and that is only possible through Breeding or Improvement Programmes by using the genetic diversity that we have.

Genetic Resources Scientists play an important role in this area and therefore, PNG needs more young men and women to take up this interest.  Currently, Rosa is the only National Scientist trained in Plant Genetic Resources Conservation, Management and Utilization.  She has almost reached her retiring age and she would like to see that more young PNGians take up this profession.

If you want to know more on what Rosa and her team in NARI are doing in Genetic Resources Conservation, Management and Utilization, then you can contact her at NARI Southern Regional Centre, Laloki, P.O. Box 1828, Port Moresby.

Daphne's Story

This article is one from 15 different Papua New Guinean scienctists 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 Daphne’s story. I hope all the parents, teachers and students reading this enjoy it. More scientists’ stories will appear here during the next few months.

This photograph is of Daphne checking out her 16-slice GE brightspeed CT scanner at Port Moresby Private Specialist Medical Centre.

Brian Robertson

Site owner

Hello, my name is Daphne Tanimia-William and I come from Tasitel village on Mussau Island, New Ireland province. I am a Radiographer. The Radiographer has got nothing to do with radios or graphing of radios. Rather, if you look up the word radiograph in the dictionary, it refers to an attained image using x-radiation. Therefore a Radiographer is a person who uses specific techniques to attain x-ray images. There are Industrial Radiographers as well as Medical Radiographers and I belong to the latter (Medical Radiographer). In many other countries, the Radiographer is also referred to as a Medical Radiation Technologist or Medical Imaging Technologist. To become a Radiographer, you need to understand Science and do well in physics and biology. A little chemistry is also essential.


The job of a radiographer is very important. We know that too much radiation can have harmful effects on human cells. And a Radiographer needs to know how to use the least amount of radiation for an optimal diagnositic image quality. When I completed year 12, I went to the Univeristy of Papua New Guinea (UPNG) to do a foundation year in science. As we approached the end of the year, we had to stream into a science field of choice, and because I enjoyed my physics, I decided to try out the course which was then a Diploma in Medical Imaging Science. At the end of 3 years, I graduated with a Diploma in Medical Imaging Science from the UPNG and went on to do a year of work at the Port Moresby General Hospital’s Radiology Unit. This was my residency year – the year where you work towards getting registered with the Medical Board of PNG. Towards the end of the year, I was awarded my registration; meaning I was now a licenced Radiography Practitioner in PNG.

My interest in this field had also grown and so I had applied for further studies and was granted a 3 year NZAID scholarship to pursue my Bachelor studies in New Zealand. During the 3 years that I stayed in NZ, one of the course requirements was to log a minimum of 3000 hours of clinical work. So I got attached to the main hospital in South Auckland (Middlemore Hospital) where I gained a vast experience of the different areas of Radiology. My job is not just about clicking a button to radiate a person so that an x-ray image can be made available to the treating physician. Rather I have to understand all the physics of radiation, pathological disease processes and have an indepth understanding of the human anatomy.

Apart from performing general x-ray examinations my job also involves performing special x-ray procedures such as intravenous urograms (study of the kidney function) and barium studies. With barium studies, Barium sulphate is used in different procedures to highlight the whole length of the digestive system. A special dye called contrast medium is also used in multiple other procedures to highlight tissues in the body so they can be clearly seen when x-rays are taken. There are other branches of the radiology unit such as Theatre Radiography, Cardiac Catheterization, Angiography and Computed Tomography and also other specialty fields in Radiology where you can continue to study and do Post-Graduate courses and become specialised in that particular field. These include Ultrasonography, Magnetic Resonance Imaging, Nuclear Medicine and Mammography (specialised breast imaging).

My job is exciting because it is a field of study that has grown to become one of the fastest moving and changing technologies in medicine. It is also very challenging because I have to keep up with all the changes. In PNG, this area is quite lacking and since people have failed to appreciate the ever changing developments of Radiology, we tend to think of it only as x-rays and photographic film. The film era is drawing to an end now that computer technology is taking the place of films and chemicals. When I graduated with a Bachelor in Medical Imaging, I was also awarded registration with the New Zealand Medical Radiation Technologists Board (NZMRTB) giving me the opportnity to work in NZ or many other countries.

I am currently working at the Port Moresby Private Specialist Medical Centre in their newly built Radiology unit. My colleague and I operate a 16-slice GE brightspeed CT scanner; the first multisclice CT scanner in Papua New Guinea (see photograph). We also have a general x-ray unit which is fully computerized (computed radiography) – meaning NO films or chemicals. This technology is also the first of its kind in PNG. The medical centre has also set up a virtual private network with Cairns Diagnostic Imaging where we send our images (using fast speed internet) to be reported; this form of technology is referred to as Teleradiology.

I am hoping to specialise and pursue further studies in this field. My dream is to see the growth and development of the Medical Imaging industry in PNG. This can only happen when we have the human resources. We need human resources and this means you! The University of Papua New Guinea now offers a Bachelor of Medical Imaging Technology through the School Of Medicine And Health Sciences. I encourage you to join this profession and be a part of this change for the betterment of our nation.

Best wishes.

Daphne William

Francesca'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 Francesca’s story. I hope all the parents, teachers and students reading this enjoy it. More scientists’ stories will appear here during the next few months.

This photograph is of Francesca busy in her laboratory identifying insects at the New Guinea Binatang Research Centre, in Madang.

Brian Robertson

Site owner

My name is Francesca Dem-Eric and I come from a small village called Guhi in the Kove area of West New Britain. I am married to a guy by the name of Eric from Madang. He is a parataxonomist working in the same organisation as I am. The New Guinea Binatang Research Centre is a non-government organization involved in research on the biodiversity of Papua New Guinea, particularly looking at the ecology of insects. It is also trains university biology students on how to do good scientific research and to know the importance of science.

Identifying Sap Sucking Insects

There are four Masters students currently attached to the New Guinea Binatang Research Centre of which I am the only female. I am doing a project as part of my masters degree program, which looks at the “Community structure of Auchenorrhyncha (Insect: Hemiptera) along an altitudinal gradient in Papua New Guinea”. Auchenorrhyncha is a group of insects in the order Hemiptera, commonly known as sap-sucking insects or leafhoppers. These insects feed by piercing through every plant part, including the leaves, stems and roots, and sucking on them. In my study, however, I only look at those sap-sucking insects that feed on the xylem and phloem tissues of the plant. Phloem- and xylem-feeders are very important in agriculture as most of them are considered agricultural pests. A good example is Cofana spectra which is a pest of sweet potato. Auchenorrhynchans not only damage plants by sucking, but also through the transmission of diseases from one plant to the other.

I use the sweeping method to collect insects. I established 8 sites at elevations starting from 200m all the way to 3700m above sea level (Brahman to Mt Wilhelm) at intervals of 500m. Auchenorrhyncha occurring from 0 to 2 m above the ground were sampled with a standardized sweep net. At each site, 20 sampling units consisting of 500 sweeps each were obtained. Leafhoppers from the samples were preserved in alcohol and then later identified to species level using the database. The community data will be analysed using modern statistical methods, including multivariate analysis and analysis of beta and alpha diversity.

Science is very fascinating and challenging at the same time. What really excites me about science, particularly the field I am in, is that because you can’t communicate directly with the insects you must make very good observations and do sampling many times. You have to think biologically to try to understand how this particular species of animal and how it interacts with its conspecific (others of the same species) and/or other species in terms of food, shelter, territory, mating and defense in order to survive and continue its generation. Regarding my present study, what really interests me is that since it is the first of its kind carried out in PNG, it is very important as it will provide a baseline of information in helping to monitor many aspects of the environment in the future including climate change.

Carrying out studies on insects (binatang) is very important as pollination of flowers from plants is mostly done by insects and so by studying insects and knowing better what plant specie is fed on by which insect species, we will be more able to manage our forests well. This is important because once the forests are destroyed and gone, the insects will also disappear, and as a result we will loose our natural forests and biodiversity. In addition, studying insects will also help us to identify pathogens and vectors of cash crops and food crops in order to control the spread of them.

After I complete my current study, I plan to continue with a PhD and then look forward to working in either a government research body such as the Forest Research Institute or the Institute of Medical Research or work with the Department of Environment and Conservation. Or perhaps I will continue doing scientific research as a career and be part of the global scientific community.

Science has always been my favourite subject since starting school. While doing my undergraduate studies at the University of Papua New Guinea, majoring in biochemistry, I attended two biology field training courses as part of my assessment and found it very interesting and challenging, and so after I completed my bachelors degree I applied for studentship at the New Guinea Binatang Research Centre and was awarded a two year honours degree studentship. According to my performance and my interest in science, I decided to continue with a Masters degree and so currently I am undertaking this program, which will last for two years. My biggest motivation along the way is the fact that that out of every 200 plus university graduate science students, only 5 decide to continue their career in this field. Our government does not realize the importance of research-based science on the country’s biodiversity and so as a Papua New Guinean, I feel that I must contribute at least some information so that Papua New Guinea can continue to be recognized as one of the biodiversity hotspots in the world.

Francesca Dem-Eric

Grade 9 Science Outcomes

This is a short extract from Unit 9.4 Our Body from the forthcoming Grade 9 Science Outcomes book. This extract is in draft format and will look completely different in the eventual book. You can use this now with your grade 9 science class (or any class for that matter) if you want to.

All in a heartbeat!

Heart Diagram

Study the heart diagram. Note that both sides of the heart (both pumps) each have two chambers. The upper chamber is called an atrium and the lower chamber is called a ventricle. The arrow at the top without a label should have the label "blood from the head".

The atria (plural of atrium) and the ventricles have muscular walls, which contract with each heartbeat. The ventricle walls are thicker and more muscular than the atria walls and the ventricle walls are the main working part of both pumps.

Note the direction of blood flow in the diagram and read this explanation of how the heart operates. This is the description of what happens in less than a second—in just one heartbeat.

  1. As the whole heart muscle relaxes the space inside both heart pumps increases and the pressure inside the heart reduces. This has three major effects.
    • The valves out of the ventricles (at the broken line arrows in the heart diagram) close shut because of the shape of the valves and because the pressure at the other side of the valves is greater then inside the heart.
    • The valves into the ventricles (broad black arrows in the heart diagram) open.
    • Blood starts to flow into the atria and through the valves into the ventricles at both sides of the heart. Remember at this point the pressure is still greater outside the heart and because of the shape of the valves between atria and ventricles the blood has to flow into the ventricles.
  2. As the heart muscle contracts it does so in a wave. It starts with the walls of the atria and spreads a fraction of a second later to the main heart muscle of the ventricles. This very slight difference in time between atria walls and ventricle wall contractions results in a quick rush of blood from the atria into the ventricles.
  3. The ventricle muscles then contract fully and powerfully. This causes a sudden increase in pressure, which closes the valves from the atria into the ventricles (note how these valves are shaped again). It forces the blood through the other valves (dotted line arrows) out of the right ventricle into the pulmonary artery going to the lungs and from the left ventricle into the aorta for the blood going to all other parts of the body.
  4. As the whole heart muscle relaxes—the process starts again and so on over and over again—for so long as you shall live!

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