Entomologist and ARC College of Experts member Professor Nigel Andrew has been appointed the new Chair of Science at Southern Cross University.
Professor Andrew, a 2020 Fulbright Senior Scholar, holds a Bachelor of Science/Bachelor of Arts and a Doctor of Philosophy as well as a Graduate Certificate in Higher Education. He is the Editor-in-Chief of Austral Ecology, Chair of the Holsworth Wildlife Research Endowment, and Vice-President of the Entomological Society of NSW, with a research interest in dung beetles.
“I’ve got a particular interest in the impacts of climate change on insects broadly,” he said. “How well will insects respond to extreme weather events? Who are the winners and losers in the climate change game?”
This research plays an important role in the Northern Rivers, nationally and globally as dung beetles are key ecosystem service providers both on farms and in native forests.
“My research group has been assessing how deep dung beetles have been burying dung on cattle farms, assessing the efficiency, and how far a dung beetle can actually take a dung pat into the soil. These beetles can lock away some of the carbon and greenhouse gases produced by cattle and sheep,” said Professor Andrew.
“So, we’ve been researching how much greenhouse gas is omitted or reduced by that burying of the dung.”
The work of the dung beetle is also a win for farmers, with Professor Andrew saying the insects are vital for the productive agricultural systems of the area.
“The dung beetles make farms more productive. Rather than a cow pat sitting on the surface of a farm for months on end and killing off the grass, the dung beetles break down the dung, put the nutrients back into the soil, and essentially work as a fertilising mechanism,” he said.
Professor Andrew’s research also examines the effects of insect pest control using Integrated Pest Management, which he says will be relevant for local macadamia, blueberry and avocado farms.
Professor Andrew was recently appointed to the ARC College of Experts. The College of Experts assesses research proposals for funding under the National Competitive Grants Program by identifying research excellence, moderating external assessments of research grant proposals, and recommending projects to be funded.
Professor Andrew said being appointed to this role was exciting and a chance to give back to the research community.
“I’m looking forward to promoting peer-reviewed research and working with some of the brightest and best minds in Australia,” he said.
“It’s a great way to give back as well because I feel that part of my role as an academic is to mentor, train and promote research in all its forms.”