Louis Bell Harvest to Health header

A local, national and global approach

We conduct fundamental and applied research to enhance the sustainable production of functional foods and natural products to assess their potential to optimise human health and reduce the risk of disease. 

Our research contributes to better health for natural resources, people and communities, adding value for producers and consumers. 

Professor Tobias Kretzschmar

“Our research in plant science, functional foods and health and wellbeing go hand-in-hand not only according to the UN goals but through the entire supply chain.”

Coffee researcher and scientist Professor Tobias Kretzschmar at a coffee plant trial site in Alstonville

UN Sustainable Development Goals

Addressing Zero Hunger and Good Health and Wellbeing

Integrating knowledge

Integrating the wisdom of traditional knowledge with the rigour of cutting-edge science

World-class natural product research facilities

Including ARL, one of Australia's two accredited facilities for analytical chemistry

Key research projects

Bees for Sustainable Livelihoods

Southern Cross University’s ongoing honeybee research project supports profitable, productive and sustainable beekeeping for indigenous communities throughout the Indo-Pacific region. It has support from Australia’s Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade and the Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research.

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Villager with hive frame - credit Cooper Schouten

Black rice nutritional quality

Across the globe, it's labelled a superfood. Southern Cross researchers are determining the drivers of nutritional quality in black rice to enable future breeding of quality black rice cultivars that can exploit the growing environments of subtropical and northern Australia to enable domestic production of high-value, healthy black rice.

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Black rice unhulled (foreground) and hulled

Medicinal cannabis: from plant to patient

From over-the-counter botanical cannabidiol to help with sleep disturbances, to the benefits for individuals with Parkinson's Disease, researchers at Southern Cross University are conducting thorough research and clinical trials into the medicinal benefits of cannabis.

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Microscope image of glandular trichomes credit Lee Conneely

Tea Tree Breeding Program

The future viability and profitability of the Australian tea tree industry is being advanced by a breeding program based at Southern Cross University in Lismore. The ‘Tea Tree Breeding Program 2019-2023’ supports the advancement of the breeding population, bringing together the Australian Tea Tree Industry Association (ATTIA), AgriFuturesTM Tea Tree Oil Program and Southern Cross University.

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Tea tree in bloom at the Lismore campus research plantation

Regenerative Agriculture

Southern Cross offers the world’s first degree in regenerative agriculture. The University is undertaking applied collaborative research in bio-regions around the country with groups of farmers, consultants, natural resource managers and researchers to address a wide range of challenges to help farms become more resilient in a changing climate.

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Regenerative Agriculture field trip

Food security, rock phosphate and resilient farming

Professor Terry Rose, Southern Cross lecturer in Regenerative Agriculture, is researching ways to recycle biosolids using thermal treatment approaches, extracting valuable phosphorus that can be reapplied as fertilizer before the waste goes into landfill.

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Professor Terry Rose

Researcher profiles

Associate Professor Tobias Kretzschmar with rice crop

Tobias Kretzschmar


Hemp and black rice are two novel crops at the forefront of Professor Kretzschmar's research. Hemp is the Swiss army knife of products and the crop with a hundred uses. Meanwhile, the food and health benefits of black rice are adding a new perspective to the world’s largest food staple. Amid growing global demand for crops that provide better nutrition, greater diversity and sustainability, research conducted at Southern Cross Plant Science holds promise for the growers of the Northern Rivers.

Professor Jon Wardle in the Lismore campus library

Jon Wardle


Professor Jon Wardle is Foundation Director of the National Centre for Naturopathic Medicine (NCNM) and Maurice Blackmore Chair of Naturopathic Medicine at Southern Cross University. He is a highly accomplished researcher and serves on the editorial board of eight peer-reviewed international academic medical research journals, including as Editor-in-Chief of Advances in Integrative Medicine. He is actively involved in research and policy in public health and integrative medicine.

Professor Bronwyn Barkla in Plant Science lab

Bronwyn Barkla


The Associate Dean of Research in the Faculty of Science and Engineering, Professor Bronwyn Barkla’s focus is the common ice plant which, despite its name, has an uncommonly efficient way of accumulating and sequestering salt. Working at the cellular level, Professor Barkla is building a bigger and clearer picture on how the secrets of the common ice plant may be applied to improve salt tolerance in plants, boost crop yields and tackle rising soil salinity.

Dr Cooper Schouten with bee frame

Cooper Schouten


Dr Cooper Schouten is the project manager for the University’s Bees for Sustainable Livelihoods research group. He works closely with Australia’s leading international agricultural research organisation the Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research to improve the productivity, resilience and profitability for smallholder beekeeping enterprises in Papua New Guinea and Fiji.

Dr Hanabeth Luke

Hanabeth Luke

Senior Lecturer

Dr Hanabeth Luke is the Course coordinator for Southern Cross University's Regenerative Agriculture program. She's also an inspired scientist and educator who has spent years working with Australia's farmers, policymakers, environmental and industry groups to gather data and insights to create a "big picture" possibility for a renewed approach to agriculture.

Dr Mervyn Shepherd with tea tree sapling

Mervyn Shepherd

Senior Research

In the Northern Rivers of NSW, where Australia’s tea tree oil industry began, Dr Mervyn Shepherd is bringing all his experience and insight to ensuring the industry stays ahead of rising global competition. Working with colleagues at the Faculty of Science and Engineering, Dr Shepherd is nurturing the seeds of initiative and developing techniques that are already showing promise around oil quality, yield and breeding management – all of which augurs well for the future.