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Southern Cross University wins $600,000 in research grants


15 October 2003
Southern Cross University has won more than $612,000 in research funding under federal grants announced today by the Australian Research Council.

Doctor Richard Bush from the School of Environmental Science and Management has been granted $225,000 over three years to study how coastal floodplain soil and water resources are being degraded and to provide knowledge that will guide better land management.

Extreme concentrations of highly reactive sulfides are forming in the surface sediments of floodplain drains, wetlands and agricultural soils. The newly forming sulfides are linked to severe oxygen depletion and acidification of coastal rivers and the complete failure of floodplain vegetation, leaving soils susceptible to erosion.

Dr Bush, Associate Professor Leigh Sullivan, Dr BC Macdonald and Dr G Bowman will also receive $143,117 over three years to re-establish a salt water and fresh water wetland in a severely degraded acid sulfate soil area and monitor the biogeochemistry to assess how well wetlands can reduce acid sulfate soil impacts.

The systematic and detailed investigation being proposed will greatly advance national and international understanding of how acid sulfate soils can be managed to protect our precious coastal floodplain soils and water resources.

Reverting acid sulfate soils to wetlands offers an economically viable alternative to protect our rivers and estuaries.

The project will be conducted in conjunction with the Department of Sustainable Natural Resources who will contribute an additional $15,000 in cash and $164,129 in kind.

The Head of the College of Indigenous Australian Peoples, Professor Judy Atkinson, the School of Tourism and Hospitality management’s Dr Jeremy Buultjens and Mr R See have been granted $70,668 over three years to look at sustainable development of Aboriginal owned small to medium tourism enterprises (SMTEs) in the Bundjalung Nation.

The study will identify the barriers preventing the sustainability of businesses. There currently is a paucity of data and, therefore a poor level of knowledge, about the factors that contribute to the successful operations of SMTEs. Consequently, there has been a high failure rate of Aboriginal tourism enterprises.

This project will help overcome the failure rates amongst Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal SMTEs by increasing the expertise available to Aboriginal people.

The project will be conducted in conjunction with the NSW National parks and Wildlife Service who will contribute an additional $15,000 and $31,350 in kind.

Professor Peter Waterman, Dr Gloria Karagianis and Dr GS Kanangara received $133,770 to establish a facility that will use high-field nuclear magnetic resonance equipment to help in the discovery of new drugs and agrichemicals.

The significance is that the facility will accelerate the rate of discovery of new bioactive molecules and will provide a wealth of new information on plant biodiversity.

The facility will be shared with the University of Western Sydney.

Executive Dean of SCU’s Division of Arts, Professor Paul Thom has been granted $40,000 over two years to produce a monograph on the logical theories of Robert Kilwardby, who died in England 1279. Professor Thom will analyse Kilwardby’s Latin commentary on Aristotle’s Prior Analytics from the perspective of modern logic.

This project forms part of a larger project jointly with Dr Henrik Lagerlund of Sweden’s Uppsala University.

Media contact: Chris Stewart 0418 431484