Research awards to boost sustainability projects in Science

28 October 2016
Award co-ordinator, Dr Cate Macinnis-Ng, and project supervisors Dr Anna Santure and Dr Gerald Weber.

Student projects designed to make the university and wider community more sustainable will receive a $20,000 boost with new awards from the Faculty of Science.

The new research awards are administered by the Faculty of Science Sustainability Network, which facilitates sustainability-related initiatives in the faculty and beyond. Associate Dean of Sustainability Dr Niki Harré says the awards are one of several projects underway in the faculty that involve improving operational practices, sustainability-focused interdisciplinary teaching and communicating scientific research and expertise.

Ten awards of up to $2,000 each, to support living costs, will be made to students of Science subjects for full-year projects within a formal qualification, for example an Honours dissertation or a Masters project.

“The aim is for these awards to boost the profile of sustainability and help to further enhance sustainable practices at the university,” says awards co-ordinator Dr Cate Macinnis-Ng.

Examples of projects that have already been identified include investigating alternative fibres to reduce paper use, energy reduction in office IT work, energy aware cloud computing and office composting, with supervisors Dr Gerald Weber from Computer Science and Dr Anna Santure from Biological Sciences.

“However, we also encourage students to think outside the box and look forward to seeing them come forward with their own ideas,” says Cate, who has also worked with the university’s Sustainability Office on other projects that engage academic staff and senior students in finding solutions to operational challenges.

Preference will be given to projects that are likely to lead to tangible improvements such as changing culture, practices or processes, facilities and the capabilities that contribute towards more sustainable outcomes within and beyond the university.

Applications for the first round of awards are due by 5pm on 1 December, and students will need to identify a suitable supervisor who must agree to oversee the project.

More information on the awards and how to apply.

Other Network initiatives include a seminar series on topics such as waste, water and transport; compost bins in staff tearooms; sustainable purchasing; and sustainable laboratories, designed to reduce waste, power, water usage, and encourage eco-friendly alternatives.

“We are always open to new ideas and anyone in the faculty is welcome to join the network,” says Niki. “We would also love to hear from people outside the faculty who are interested in what we are doing or who would like to collaborate on sustainability-related projects.”

More information on the Faculty of Science Sustainability Network and its initiatives