Published on 24 January 2013
The University of the Sunshine Coast’s strong emphasis on genetic research in areas such as aquaculture and forestry has been recognised nationally.
USC scored an impressive rating of 4 (above world standard) out of 5 in the Agricultural and Veterinary Sciences category of the biennial Excellence in Research for Australia (ERA) rankings released last month.
This is a first for USC, which only began a concerted focus on building its research capacity about six years ago. The University also scored a rating of 3 (at world standard) in the Biological Sciences category.
USC’s Pro Vice-Chancellor for Research Professor Roland De Marco said being recognised in this way was a significant milestone for the University.
“We are delighted to have earned an ERA rating of above the international benchmark in Agricultural and Veterinary Sciences, which is allied to our research focus areas of aquaculture and forestry,” he said.
“This is a clear sign that our strategy of focussing and building research capacity in these fields is working well, and we will stick to our plan, so as to ensure that we build world-class research in the field.”
Professor De Marco congratulated USC’s scientists, particularly those in the University’s GeneCology Research Centre, for their contributions to this spectacular outcome.
This centre’s key research areas include aquaculture; tree, forest and horticulture science; molecular and cellular biology; microbiology; chemistry; ecology and conservation; biodiscovery; computational biology and genetics; and molecular engineering.
Meanwhile, the prospects for further world-class research at USC were boosted this month when Federal Treasurer Wayne Swan announced a $30 million grant to the USC Engineering Futures Project under the Education Investment Fund (EIF) Regional Priorities Round.
This funding will go towards the construction of a $37.2 million Engineering Learning Hub – a building that will include a 3D visualisation theatre that will allow students and academics to interact with virtual objects through 3D simulations.
As well as providing for some exciting engineering applications, this technology will also enable USC researchers to approach their research in exciting and innovative ways.
The Excellence in Research for Australia ratings are based on a range of criteria, including competitive research funding success and the quality of research publications.
Among the research projects that USC scientists are leading are:
- Professor Helen Wallace – Developing markets and products for the Papua New Guinea Canarium nut industry.
- Professor Abigail Elizur – Preliminary trials on giant grouper maturation, spawning and juvenile production in Vietnam, the Philippines and Australia.
And some of USC’s top research paper publications recently have included:
- Dr Scott Cummins and co-workers, Nature – International Weekly Journal of Science, The Amphimedon queenslandica genome and the evolution of animal complexity.
- Dr David Walton and Professor Helen Wallace, Journal of the Science of Food and Agriculture, Delayed harvest reduces quality of raw and roasted macadamia kernels.
- Professor Abigail Elizur and co-workers, General and Comparative Endocrinology, Neuroendocrinology of reproduction in teleost fish.
— Terry Walsh