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Southern Cross University awarded almost $1.3 million for prestigious ARC Discovery Program grants


Jessica Nelson
11 December 2019

The Australian Research Council recently announced the prestigious 2020 Discovery Program awards. Southern Cross University Deputy Vice Chancellor of Research Professor Mary Spongberg congratulated the research teams successful in securing almost $1.3m in competitive funding for three innovative projects.

The grants awarded included $577,000 for a Discovery Indigenous project. The Discovery Indigenous project will fund new research into the impact of environmental changes on freshwater and marine animals aims to help safeguard natural populations and aquatic habitats integral to Indigenous and non-indigenous Australians.

The interdisciplinary project, led by Dr Ben Mos, an Aboriginal person of Turrbal descent, marks the first time Southern Cross University has received a funded Discovery Australian Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Award.

“The Discovery Australian Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Award covers all three years of the project for Dr Ben Mos – and we are very proud as this is the first time Southern Cross University has received this award,” Professor Spongberg said.

Dr Mos is based at the National Marine Science Centre in Coffs Harbour on Australia’s Mid North Coast, and will work with his Southern Cross University colleague Professor Symon Dworjanyn on the project titled ‘Does larval environment dictate resilience in a changing ocean?’.

The project will investigate the impact of ocean warming and ocean acidification on key marine and freshwater invertebrates.

Dr Mos said he was looking forward to working with local species that are likely familiar to the Coffs Harbour community and the traditional owners, the Gumbaynggirr people, who have very strong connections to the ocean and estuaries.

“Shrimp and other aquatic invertebrates have provided an important food source for thousands of years, and continue to do so today. It is important to find out how ocean change is affecting them,” Dr Mos said.

“The research aims to help inform decisions about the best ways to manage the culturally and economically important ecosystems where these animals live.”

Southern Cross University also picked up two Discovery Projects, including the ‘Effect of elevated nutrients on carbon and nitrogen cycles in seagrass beds’ project ($322,487) led by Dr Joanne Oakes in partnership with Utrecht University, and the ‘Unravelling hexavalent chromium formation and fate in fire-impacted soil’ project ($390,000) led by Professor Edward Burton in partnership with Stanford University.