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SCU research bids generate $1.2m for region


Brigid Veale
22 December 2004
Southern Cross University will receive $1.2 million a year for the next seven years in research funding following the announcement of three successful Cooperative Research Centre (CRC) grants.

SCU has been named as a core participant in three CRCs, which cover the areas of acid sulphate soil, plant biosecurity and sustainable forestry. The research projects involve collaborations between universities, Government and commercial organisations and will be worth a total of more than $70 million over seven years.

Pro Vice-Chancellor Professor Peter Baverstock said SCU’s success in the CRC bids placed it among the top four universities in Australia.

“In absolute terms we are in the top four universities in the country in regard to involvement in CRC projects. In relation to our size we are the leading university in Australia,” Professor Baverstock said.

“Each of these three CRCs will bring in about $400,000 a year into this region. All of that money will be spent on wages and scholarships which means it all goes back into this region.”

Professor Baverstock said the CRCs would generate about 140 PhD students in a number of universities over the seven years and each of those students would undertake a Graduate Certificate in Management for Researchers through SCU.

The three CRCs are: CRC for Contamination Assessment and Remediation of the Environment; CRC for National Plant Biosecurity; and CRC for Sustainable Forest Landscapes.

Dr Leigh Sullivan, from SCU’s School of Environmental Science, will lead the education program for the CRC for Contamination Assessment and Remediation of the Environment, which will include 40 PhD students over seven years. He will also undertake research on acid sulphate soils.

Professor Baverstock and Professor Robert Henry will be involved in the CRC for National Plant Biosecurity, which is aimed at protecting the plant industry in Australia from invading pests and diseases.

Professor Baverstock, who will lead the CRC’s education program, said their main involvement would be the development of DNA diagnostic tools to detect invading pests.

The third CRC will involve Professor Jerry Vanclay and SCU’s Sustainable Forestry team, who will look at the rapid assessment of plant growth and development, and Professor Henry, who will look at eucalypt genetics.

“The CRC program is designed to encourage universities to work with local, State and Federal governments and private enterprise. It creates a different kind of PhD student which is highly consistent with SCU’s focus on training research students to be able to apply their knowledge in the workplace and providing them with additional management skills,” Professor Baverstock said.