Three Griffith University scientists have received Advance Queensland Research Fellowships through the Queensland Government’s Department of Science, Information Technology and Innovation (DSITI).
The fellowships were awarded to –
- Dr Fernanda Adame (Australian Rivers Institute, School of Environment);
- Dr Darrell Strauss (Griffith Centre for Coastal Management, School of Engineering);
- Dr Wayne Water (Queensland Micro- and Nanotechnology Centre, School of Natural Sciences).
The Advance Queensland program not only supports original research that will have positive impacts for Queensland, it aims to assist in attracting and keeping the best and brightest research minds in the state, and to build Queensland’s capacity to conduct innovative research and development.
Protecting the Great Barrier Reef
Dr Adame has received an early career research fellowship for her work in wetlands as it pertains to cost-effective restoration of biodiversity and heritage — marine and terrestrial – with particular focus on reducing pollutants flowing into the Great Barrier Reef.
“One of the biggest threats to the Great Barrier Reef is not from within, but from without, where erosion and waste caused by factors such as sugar cane farming and cattle grazing find their way into the reef,” says Dr Adame.
“If we can identify areas for restoring wetlands and choose the most efficient wetlands for retaining those pollutants rather than having them wash into the sea, this will be of enormous benefit to the health and sustainability of the Great Barrier Reef.”
Protecting our beaches
Dr Strauss’ mid-career fellowship allows him to continue his research into building resilience and managing climate risk for Queensland beaches.This comes through the design and development of construction technologies for extreme weather event resistance — floods, cyclones, droughts – especially in tropical environments.Beach nourishment – the strategic placement of sand transported from elsewhere – is considered the best way of protecting shorelines subject to extreme event erosion and long-term recession due to climate variability.
“Beach conditions change as you travel north from the Gold Coast and these affect which measures provide the best outcomes. A cost-effective approach to combat beach erosion is to place nourishment in the near shore zone in water depths between five and 20 metres.”
The City of Gold Coast is a partner in Dr Strauss’ research.
Storing clean energy
Dr Wayne Water’s early career Advance Queensland fellowship is for a project to improve solar energy outcomes through advanced electronics for distributed energy storage. According to Dr Water, the growing number of solar photovoltaic system installations has led to power quality issues in the low voltage distribution networks, including higher costs and risk of appliance failure. Dr Water’s research proposes a solution by developing an advanced Direct Current converter to be used in a single-conversion stage topology with battery energy storage.
“There are several advantages to this technology, such as high efficiency on battery charging, as well as protecting appliances and reducing the risk of electric shock. Furthermore, even with only one solar panel working on the roof, the system can still function at the best possible state.”
Advance Queensland PhD Scholarships
Two Griffith PhD researchers have also been awarded Advance Queensland funding for their research projects.
New leads against malaria
Megan Arnold from the Eskitis Institute for Drug Discovery at Griffith University has received a $45,000 Advance Queensland PhD Scholarship for her work in sourcing new leads for drugs against malaria.
“Traditionally, drug development has focused on treatment drugs that act to rapidly kill malaria parasites in order to relieve symptoms. But the problem is that the malaria parasite is developing resistance to these drugs,” Ms Arnold said.
Ms Arnold will use her Advance Queensland Scholarship to look for new drug leads through Griffith University’s Nature Bank and CSIRO’s Compound Library.
Diet and chronic fatigue syndrome
And PhD candidate Nadia Campagnolo from the Griffith School of Health has also been awarded $45,000 for her research into the association between diet and inflammation in chronic fatigue syndrome.
The annual cost of CFS in Australia is $720 million and there is no known pathological mechanism for developing Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS). This research will investigate if modern diets, which contain high levels of dietary advanced glycation end products are linked to CFS and if dietary interventions can reduce the severity of CFS.