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Southern Cross University receives $1.68 million in research funding


Brigid Veale
26 October 2010
Southern Cross University has received a total of $1.68 million in funding for geochemistry research projects and for a world-first health and environmental project involving a personal carbon trading scheme.

The funding was announced yesterday (October 25) by the Innovation Minister, Senator Kim Carr, as part of the Australian Research Council’s 2011 Major Grants Announcement.

Southern Cross GeoScience, a Special Research Centre of Southern Cross University, received a total of $980,000 for two projects which will provide key information on fundamental geochemistry processes and will have application in the remediation of coastal plains and managing water quality.

A project led by Professor Richard Bush, co-director of Southern Cross GeoScience, has received $600,000 in funding through the Linkage Projects. In partnership with the Queensland Department of Environment and Resource Management, the project is exploring how iron transforms and accumulates in acidifying coastal lowlands.

"We are looking at the fundamental geochemistry processes. It will provide new insight into the primitive reactions that drove the evolution of our environmental system. It will also allow us to predict some of the unforeseen environmental impacts of remediation projects carried out on coastal plains," Professor Bush said.

The second Southern Cross GeoScience project has received $380,000 through the Discovery Projects scheme. Led by Dr Ed Burton, this will investigate metastable iron sulphide minerals and the role they play in controlling surface and groundwater quality. As part of this funding, Dr Burton has received a prestigious Australian Research Fellowship, one of only 33 granted across Australia.

A project led by Professor Bradley Eyre, director of Southern Cross University’s Centre for Coastal Biogeochemistry Research, has also received $310,000 Discovery Projects funding. This project will look at how permeable carbonate sediments in the ocean, particularly along continental shelves, absorb CO2.

“With climate change we are putting more CO2 into the atmosphere and we know that the ocean is absorbing some of that. Part of that absorption is associated with sediments of the ocean, but what we do not know is the role of advection in permeable carbonate sediments in controlling that absorption,” Professor Eyre said.

“Through this project we will get a much better understanding of how much CO2 these sediments are absorbing. This project will make a leading contribution to our global understanding of ocean acidification.”

As part of the funding for this project, Dr Isaac Santos has received a prestigious Australian Postdoctoral Fellowship, one of 99 granted across Australia.

A total of $390,000 has also been granted through the Linkage Projects scheme for the world’s first Personal Carbon Trading system, to be conducted in a ‘closed system’ island environment on Norfolk Island.

Leading chief investigator Professor Garry Egger, a Professor of Lifestyle Medicine and Applied Health Promotion at Southern Cross University, said the main goals of the project were to test the effectiveness of a Personal Carbon Trading Scheme over a three year period; reduce per capita carbon emissions; and reduce obesity and obesity related behaviours.

“The funding is fantastic, not just from my own or the team’s point of view but the fact that the Australian Research Council recognises the importance of bringing together the whole aspect of climate change and health and this is the first project of its kind in the world to do that,” said Professor Egger.

The project has in principal agreement with Southern Cross University, the University of South Australia and Deakin University for collaboration on research and evaluation. There is also an in principal agreement with the Norfolk Island Legislative Assembly, the Norfolk Island Tourist Board and ‘Sustainability Norfolk’.

Photo: Dr Ed Burton, pictured sampling sulfides in the Lower Lakes of South Australia, has received an Australian Research Fellowship.