Project Manager Andrew Turley and Project Administrator Sharon Baker recently sat down for a chat about everything you might want to know about the team behind Project DIG.
Tell us a bit about yourselves.
Sharon Baker: Shall I just link you through to my dating profile?
Andrew Turley: I’m a father to Jasper and husband to Jess. A keen cyclist, photographer, fisherman and bushwalker. A fan of Star Wars, fishkeeping Australian natives, and drinking whiskey and coffee.
What were the projects you worked on prior to Project DIG?
AT: I managed projects for the World Mosquito Program (WMP), an international partnership between Monash University, governments and NGOs which aims to reduce mosquito-borne viruses through a novel biocontrol method. Prior to working for WMP, I completed a PhD in Medical Entomology from the University of Queensland, where I studied the behaviours, physiology and genetics of the dengue mosquito.
SB: I worked on another project at the Museum to build SparkLab, Sciencentre. It was such an amazing learning curve for me, so stressful and exciting and it felt important and I’m really proud of the result.
What appealed to you about working on Project DIG? What led you to Queensland Museum?
SB: When a new person starts work at the Museum, they take you on a back of house tour and you get to meet all the curators, hear them talk about their work and get access to the unseen areas of the Museum – the ‘secret stuff’ up on Levels 5 and 6 that isn't open to the public. I loved it, and I think everyone who ever does the tours loves them – because you’re taken into the research guts of the Museum, and you get to see this collection that isn’t usually seen. You realise how massive the job is that the curators have.
And that was a major appeal of Project DIG for me: we can open up that collection to the world and share the research being done. Scientists in Iceland could discover something amazing because Project DIG has made it possible for them to access a high resolution 3D image of a particular mite holotype that we hold in one of the thousands of drawers of specimens in the collection. I think that’s a really exciting future.
AT: Well, I’m a nerd and a trained scientist. So the idea of working for the Museum and having access to the back of house collection was pretty exciting. To this day I still get excited when I open drawers full of Plesiosaurus bones, get to view the Dodd entomology collection or see the amazing Indigenous shield collections at the Museum. I was also a computer geek as a teenager and I’ve always maintained a keen interest in technology and innovation. So Project DIG was a fantastic opportunity to use my background in science and experience in project management to indulge my inner computer geek in the emerging world of 3D technologies!
What has been the most exciting part of Project DIG so far? What part of the project are you looking forward to getting under way?
SB: Discovering some of the technology that is available out there is pretty exciting – last year we were always trying out new AR apps on our phones and there was a fair bit of oohing and aahing. I’m really looking forward to getting our online portals up and running. That’s when the collection will truly be open to everyone.
AT: For me, the most exciting (and daunting) part of Project DIG is the scope of the project. Digital technology is such a big part of our everyday lives now and through Project DIG Queensland Museum Network has a real opportunity to take a big leap forward in the way we use it for conducting research and engaging with the community. I’m particularly looking forward to using our new technologies in the Museum's exhibitions – providing new ways for the public to interact with our collections, some of which they’d otherwise never get to see!
Has there been anything unexpected about working on the project?
AT: I’ve been surprised at how hard conserving our Queensland State Collection can be. For example, some of our dinosaur fossils literally turn to acid and disintegrate if exposed to humidity, and our specimens in formaldehyde can still get attacked by fungus! Our collections staff do an admirable job fighting the forces of nature, but it’s a constant battle and it’s a war that’s never won.
SB: Doing this interview is pretty unexpected!
Anything else you’d like to mention?
SB: Tickets for SparkLab!
AT: Sharon really should be promoting Project DIG!