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International estuarine award for Southern Cross University researcher


Sharlene King, media officer, Southern Cross University
17 July 2017

Ecohydrologist Dr Damien Maher’s passion for the environment, generous teaching style and a high impact, extensive research output makes him popular with colleagues and students at Southern Cross University.

Now his achievements have been recognised internationally with the 2017 Cronin Award for Early Achievement by the Coastal and Estuarine Research Federation.

The Cronin Award is an international biennial prize that recognises the significant accomplishments of an estuarine scientist in the early stages of their career development. The Coastal and Estuarine Research Federation (CERF) is the largest global association of coastal scientists.

“Damien’s strong scientific leadership, positive personality, and professional collaboration have helped create a positive environment and contribution to the scientific community at large,” said Professor Robert Twilley, President of CERF.

“Damien’s colleagues, and the Cronin Award Committee, have been deeply impressed by his professional contributions to the estuarine scientific community.”

Learn more about why CERF awarded the Cronin Award to Dr Damien Maher.

Dr Maher will travel to Rhode Island in the USA in early November to collect his prize at the 24th biennial Coastal and Estuarine Research Federation conference.

“This is a great honour, and really highlights the outstanding work that our Ecohydrology Group is doing,” said Dr Maher, whose colleagues and peers affectionately call him ‘Damo the Gun’.

“While this is an individual award, it really belongs to our entire group. I express my sincere gratitude to our team, in particular all of the students who I’ve been fortunate enough to work with over the years. I am also deeply thankful for the outstanding research support that Southern Cross University provides, and for the funding that I’ve received from the Australian Research Council (ARC).”

Dr Maher is an ARC DECRA (Discovery Early Career Researcher Award) Research Fellow. Most of his research has focused on carbon biogeochemistry, including diffusive transport across the sediment water interface and porewater/groundwater advective exchange. His extensive skills with carbon cycle research and cutting edge instrumentation put him at the forefront of this field. Dr Maher has developed and refined most methods used in the Ecohydrologly lab including the novel use of cavity ring down spectrometry to measure carbon dioxide and methane concentrations and stable isotopes in water. He also refined several methods that rely on conventional isotope ratio mass spectrometry. The methods developed by Dr Maher are being rapidly incorporated by other research groups around the world.

Professor Isaac Santos, a recipient of the 2011 Cronin Award and the Southern Cross University Ecohydrology Group leader, nominated Dr Maher for the award.

“Dr Maher’s work has profound societal effects and is a significant contribution to major public debates in Australia,” Professor Santos said.

“His collaborative research has not only empowered regional communities to protect some of their vital water resources but his work has been featured on mainstream national and international media and labelled ‘highly significant’.

“Damo’s research accomplishments, passion for science, and ability to engage students and peers collaboratively from across disciplines in estuarine science make him an ideal choice for the 2017 Cronin Award.”

Deputy Vice Chancellor of Research Professor Geraldine Mackenzie congratulated Dr Maher and said the award highlighted the research strength of Southern Cross University.

“Our research in the environmental sciences at Southern Cross University is consistently rated as being well above world standard. The Cronin Award is further recognition of the outstanding work being undertaken by our researchers. Dr Maher is one of our leading young researchers, and I look forward to following his career as it develops.”