Creating dialogue on environmental science research

Published: Monday 26th May 2014

The School of Science presented a selection of research projects which encompass a broad range of disparate fields in environmental science; such as plant and wildlife ecology, aquatic toxicology, bioremediation, utilisation of industrial wastes, immunological mechanisms in healing and chronic diseases across the lifespan.

The five speakers were Associate Professor Vaughan Monamy who chaired the session, Dr Brian Bicknell, Dr Pre De Silva, Dr Cliff Seery and Dr Jennifer Taylor.

Dr Brian Bicknell’s main area of research includes microbial ecology and environmental microbiology. Interested in small scale terrestrial and aquatic spills, Dr Bicknell provided an overview of his research topic ‘Bioremediation of oil spills using coir pith’.

Dr Pre De Silva’s research focus ‘Utilisation of industrial wastes in Eco- friendly product development’ looks at the chemistry of materials. The key drivers of her research are the impact of climate change, overpopulation and global shortage of material supply and the challenge of developing alternative cement technologies. Her research collaborations include The Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO), The Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation (ANSTO) and Knon Kaen University in Thailand.

Dr Cliff Seery’s research is at the intersection between marine pollution and climate stress. ‘Aquatic ecotoxicology’ is a recent field of study which has evolved from human toxicology. Dr Seery studies the impact of climate change and pollution on marine life and provided an overview of his completed research project on sea urchins. He is currently working with the Queensland Government on addressing pesticide toxicity loads entering the Great Barrier Reef.

Dr Jennifer Taylor presented on her long-term research in central western NSW, ‘Managing semi-arid NSW woodlands in an agricultural landscape: A long-term study of remnant vegetation as habitat for birds and insectivorous bats’. Her research examines how natural and human-induced disturbances affect plant and animal population. One of Dr Taylor’s collaborations is with researchers from the Biodiversity Conservation Science section of the NSW Office of Environment and Heritage on examining population and community dynamics of woodlands birds.

Associate Professor Vaughan Monamy’s presentation explored the welfare aspect of animal research. His research topic ‘Welfare aspects of marine mammal research: Lethal scientific whaling and hot iron branding of seals means we haven’t achieved best practice yet’ examines how the conduct of wildlife research should continue to be legitimately invested. His two case studies reflect on the contrast between valuing wild animals and valuing wild animals’ research.  

The Faculty of Health Sciences Research Conversation workshops serve as a platform for the exchange of research interests and projects among staff, postgraduate and higher degree research students and to strengthen the dialogue towards building a collaborative and innovative research culture.