Professor offers training program forges links in India

Martin Head (pre-head wound, front row centre) poses with participants of his training program in India.He only had two weeks, but Martin Head, professor and chair of Brock’s Department of Earth Sciences, made the most of his recent trip to India.Head was a visiting scientist at the Birbal Sahni Institute of Palaeobotany (BSIP) in Lucknow. BSIP is an autonomous institute under the Department of Science and Technology, Government of India.His trip had two objectives:to deliver a training program to PhD students and junior scientists at BSIP, andto explore future collaborative links between Brock and BSIP and its sister organizations.During his visit, he was also introduced to Shri Pawan Kumar Bansal, Minister of Parliamentary Affairs, Science and Technology and Earth Sciences. Head also gave talks on climate change at two national oceanographic institutes in Goa.Head talked with The Brock News about his trip, as well as an accidental onstage collision.Describe the training program you gave to PhD students and junior scientists.The training program familiarized participants with the late Cenozoic (65 million years ago to the present) record of marine dinoflagellate (i.e. algae) cysts, with the aim of using these microfossils to reconstruct past climates from ocean sediments around India.Were you able to establish collaborative links between Brock and BSIP?Plans for collaboration are in progress and would include developing research projects for PhD students at the BSIP, who I would then co-supervise. We are presently working on a memorandum of understanding to help formalize this.What did you and the science minister talk about? He and I talked during a tour of the BSIP’s museum and research facilities and afterward at a meeting of BSIP’s researchers and research students. He was interested in BSIP’s increasing emphasis on climate change research and I emphasized the value of understanding past climates (from the geological record) in predicting future climate change. BSIP certainly appreciated my comments.Tell us about your talks at the oceanographic institutes.I presented research with my present and former students on a unique event 3.3 million years ago that interrupted the northward flow of the North Atlantic Current, possibly triggering the first major glaciation of the Late Pliocene.Any other comments you’d like to make? Something memorable?The audience at one of my talks in Goa will never forget the occasion. I was just about to be introduced when I collided with the corner of a shelf, onstage, and began bleeding profusely from a head wound. Blood was suddenly everywhere, over my hands, face and dripping onto the floor — just like a horror movie!I was whisked away, cleaned up, and I emerged a few minutes later with a blood-soaked compress on my head. I peeled this off, and gave my talk. The show went on, in true thespian spirit, but half way through, the wound opened up again and I had to be patched up before continuing.