Profile series: Danlu Guo

Let’s get the basics. Name, where you are from, and your current affiliation and advisor?

My name is Danlu Guo, currently working as a postdoc research fellow in the Department of Infrastructure Engineering, University of Melbourne. My supervisor is Prof Andrew Western.

What is the research you are currently working on?

I’m currently working on an ARC Linkage Project (LP170100710) – a collaboration between Melbourne University and Rubicon Water. My recent work focuses on developing an uncertainty-based framework to inform irrigation scheduling using ensemble weather forecasts.I’m also collaborating with NSW Natural Resources Committee on the identifying and explaining the long-term trends in water quantity and quality in forested catchments throughout NSW.

I’m teaching as well at the moment, so when I have spare time, I am also taking care of a few (!) hobby projects, including

  1. understanding the spatial and temporal variation of relationships between stream water quality and hydrology across Australia;
  2. developing tools to facilitate the identification of events in hydrological time-series;
  3. improving the capacity of rainfall-runoff models to perform under different hydro-climatic conditions. 

What do you wish you had known when you started your graduate/academic career?

Soft skills are as important as the technical ones. If I knew this earlier during my PhD, (I actually was told but didn’t pay enough attention then) I’d have intentionally tried to develop my management, leadership and networking skills much more. Lots of post-doc positions are project-funded, in which case these skills become very helpful. I found it overwhelming when I started my post-doc and I wish I had been more prepared.

What got you started on this current research? Was there some epiphany or light bulb moment?

A mixture of contract obligations and personal interest, and limitations declared in my previous research. 🙂

Most of my light bulb moments were not from new findings in research, but rather, figuring out a better way to make sense of what I had already found. This is mostly a process of simplification – I like to call it ‘pruning’. If you grow a tree, it is important to remove branches that are damaged and not productive, so you can make more resources available to support the productive part of the tree. The same thinking transfers to research too. Sometimes I find myself confused by too many findings going in different directions; this is a good time to ‘prune’, after which the key points often become clearer. So if you are stuck in similar situations, have a go at pruning!

Who is your role model in science and why? What makes you admire them?

Prof. Hoshin Gupta. It was an absolute pleasure to work with Hoshin. I admire him for:

  1. always having creative ideas to approach a problem (which often lead to interesting findings!);
  2. always being curious about learning new things from others;
  3. always staying on top of the literature in the hydrology community and knowing what’s valuable to explore next – he is helping to push our collective knowledge forward.

Check out Danlu’s publications on Google Scholar.

Contact Danlu via her webpage.

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