Back Down Under, for an enrichening two-week academic visit to Sydney!

Thanks to removal of Covid-19 restrictions, for the first time since 2020, LPICEA’s three team members (Dr. Han Wang, Dr. Jian Zhou and Han Zhang) were able to visit the Wright Lab in Sydney. The memorable trip which involved academic exchange lasted from the spring equinox up to 2nd April of this year. The occasion also marked the first time Dr. Han Wang returned to Sydney ever since conducting research for almost five years at Macquarie University.

LPICEA team member (bottom right) together with Shubham Chhajed (top right), Dr. Andrea Westerband (middle-bottom), Professor Mark Westoby (middle-top) and Professor Ian Wright (left)

The trip kicked off with a three-day intensive workshop at Western Sydney University‘s Hawkesbury Institute of Environment (HIE). LPICEA‘s team members had the pleasure of participating together with the Wright Lab (, Isaac Tower from Falster Lab at UNSW Sydney (, and Professor Mark Westoby of Macquarie University in the workshop. Besides brainstorming on how to upscale the least-cost theory from leaf level to canopy level, the working group also got a chance to visit the EucFACE site, one of the biggest in the world to run Free-Air CO2 Enhancement experiments. On the last day at HIE, Dr. Han Wang gave a talk on predicting vegetation carbon cycle from eco-evolutionary optimality. She introduced her LPICEA team and their latest research findings to the audience.

The second week was spent at Macquarie University for specific discussions, lab work measuring sapwood respiration and fieldwork training to measure allometric traits. Both Han Wang and Jian Zhou enjoyed discussing with Ian and Mark how the effects of height and light might influence the ratio of leaf internal to ambient concentration of CO2 – seeing whether the observed pattern could be explained by the current least-cost theory. Han Wang also engaged Ian on how to implement the cost on nitrogen uptake into the current least-cost theory. Even though the question wasn’t solved during the visit, they saw an obvious direction going forward for the task at hand – providing some homework for Han Wang to follow-up on! She’ll need to finish the derivation and demonstrate their equations on the white board ;-P

Han Zhang spent three days at the lab working with Dr. Andrea Westerband and Shubham Chhajed on measuring sapwood respiration with LiCor 6400 and plethora of DIY devices. She is now much more comfortable about her fieldwork; to measure sapwood respiration in Hainan Island this coming summer! Although it is really a pity that the planned fieldwork in Yengo National Park had to be canceled due to the heavy rain, Shubham did manage to train the LPICEA team on how to measure allometric traits at Macquarie Ecology Reserve in Land Cove National Park. Moreover, the team got to visit Manly Beach and experienced a ‘bushwalk’ in Sydney Harbor! The chance to see nature and typical landscape in Sydney was an additional treat.

Han Wang discussing the least-cost theory with Ian (top-left), Han Zhang measuring sapwood respiration (top-right), Shubham Chhajed tutoring allometric trait measurements (bottom-left), EucFACE visit (bottom-right)

The wheels of LPICEA’s international travels have begun to roll. Next is Huiying’s attendance at the EGU conference to both present her research as well as convening the optimality session! Following that is Yanghang’s three-month visit to Sydney and Melbourne to develop models on thermal acclimation of leaf respiration. Our plans & activities continue to gain momentum in 2023. Let’s see what the rest of the year will bring…


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