Summer 2015

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Summer 2015

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Summer 2015 edition

This edition of the newsletter includes the following sections:

Download the Sustainability Research Centre Summer 2015 Newsletter (PDF 3.2MB) *

Refer to previous editions.

For PDF documents you must have the free Adobe Acrobat Reader, which can be downloaded from the Adobe Download page.

Visiting academic, Assoc Prof Wilson CabralAssociate Professor Wilson Cabral

Assoc Prof Wilson Cabral is currently visiting the SRC on his 12-month sabbatical, which finishes in February 2016. Wilson is an associate professor and researcher at the Aeronautics Institute of Technology (Department of Water Resources and Environment) since 1998 working on water resources management, environmental economics and climate change adaptation.

He recently coordinated the Redelitoral Project, a researchers network that embraces 4 leading institutions in Brasil (USP, INPE, UNIFEI and ITA) and others abroad (POLITO, Stanford and USC). This project has articulated some recommendations for the Brazilian task force team on climate change adaptation, focused on the coastal zone.

During his time at the SRC, Wilson has been initiating some papers on Water Management, Climate Change Adaptation and Transportation Sustainability, involving USC researchers from several disciplines. He has also been taking some interviews and films that will edited and presented by a Brazilian broadcast company (TV Band).

Wilson also leads projects on Water Management and he was (until Dec 2014) the academic representative on the Brazilian Council of Water Resources. His current interests on climate change adaptation are focused on institutional approaches, particularly on coastal areas, and also at the interface between adaptation and water and energy management.

At the end of the sabbatical period, he intends to establish a long term partnership with USC / SRC.

Fieldwork in Italy Italy

Prof Roy Sidle spent 10 days in Italy in late September 2015, visiting catchments in southern Italy with Prof Giueseppe Scarasci and his PhD student (Federico Moresi) from the University of Rome. The trip helped establish the location for a landslide modelling/field study in which Roy will co-supervise the PhD student. The focus will be on predicting the stabilizing effects of tree root systems, as well as the temporal and spatial attributes of shallow landslides in this managed forest catchment in Cosenza.

After this field trip Roy and Giueseppe drove to northern Italy at the invitation of the joint European Forestry Commission and FAO where Roy gave a keynote presentation at the workshop on ‘Mountain Watershed and Ecosystems Services’ in Pieve Tesino. The meeting was attended by invited participants from European nations dealing with mountain watersheds and hazards and aspects of forest industry, as well as FAO representatives and several invited international scientists.

NCCARF SEI Network hosted by the Sustainability Research Centre

The National Climate Change Adaptation Research Facility’s social, economic and institutional dimensions network (SEI Network), hosted by the Sustainability Research Centre, has been tasked with exploring the social, economic and institutional dimensions of climate change adaptation and maintaining research and adaptation initiatives to increase the capacity to use this research.

Partners include the University of Adelaide, University of Canberra, Murdoch University, Swinburne University of Technology and Girringun Aboriginal Corporation. Each of the partners represent a number of fields of research relevant to the aims of the network including: economics, business, social ecology, human geography, anthropology, adaptation planning, institutional analysis and education.

Convened by Prof Tim Smith and coordinated by Adaptation Coordinator Sarah Connor, a priority for the network is to develop online tools including a dynamic website focussed on the practical interpretation of research findings along with an informative e-newsletter and social media content. This will help facilitate interactions between researchers and stakeholders across the country. USC also leads the NGO Theme of the SEI Network (led by Dr Dana Thomsen and supported by Dr Noni Keys).

As the website is being developed researchers and stakeholders are encouraged to subscribe to the e-newsletter, a completely free service where you are able to:

  • access up to date climate change information resources including tools which synthesize existing knowledge
  • participate and share valuable knowledge and experience with like-minded researchers and practitioners
  • link and promote your work nationally
  • access expert advice and find collaborative contacts relevant to you
  • be notified of various climate change initiatives, training, workshops, funding opportunities and conferences.

Prospective members just need to subscribe via the NCCARF website.

Further information contact:

Sarah Connor, Research Network Coordinator

Email: sconnor@usc.edu.au 
Mobile: +61 7 0428 007 879

Falkenberg award

Prof Ben Preston has won the American Geophysical Union’s Falkenberg award for 2015. This prestigious award is given annually to an early– to mid-career scientist who contributed to the quality of life, economic opportunities and stewardship of the planet. Ben is an Adjunct Professor with the SRC based at Oak Ridge National Lab in the USA.

Congratulations to Dr Judy Lawrence

Congratulations to Dr Judy Lawrence who has been awarded her PhD. Judy undertook her PhD through the Victoria University of Wellington but has been an affiliated PhD student with the SRC. Her thesis can be downloaded at Te Waharoa.

Best presentations at Learning and Teaching Week

Congratulations to Dr Noni Keys, Dr Clare Archer-Lean, Ms Lisa Ryan and Assoc Prof Claudia Baldwin as members, with FoSHEE colleagues, of the best panel presentation for ‘What’s climate change got to do with the courses I teach? Seeing the arts and science of climate change in USC classrooms’.

What's happening in Xishuangbanna?Professor Roy Sidle in the mountainous terrain near the small village of Mandian, Xishangbanna

Prof Roy Sidle is working with an INRA (French National Institute for Agricultural Research) on a hydrology project in Xishuangbanna, southwestern Yunnan near Laos and Myanmar. This is one of the most culturally diverse regions in all of China and the city of Jinghong is rapidly expanding, placing increasing stress on the natural resources of this region. Much of the tropical mountain forests in this region have been converted to terraced rubber plantations, with rice paddies and other agriculture in the lower slopes. The study involves assessing the effects of tree root systems in various types of converted plantations and secondary forests on preferential flow in the soil. This affects erosion processes and stormflow generation.

Roy is co-supervising a PhD student, Jérôme Nespoulous, at INRA, Montpellier, France with Dr Alexia Stokes.

Community resilience and climate change adaptation 

Fieldwork began in earnest in October on the Cambodian case studies for the Asia-Pacific Network Global Change Research project on community resilience and climate adaptation.

In Cambodia, the project is partnered by the University of Battambang and Ministry of Environment (MOE). USC will now join as part of the FAO-MOE Life and Nature project to integrate community resilience assessment with vulnerability impact assessment, watershed management and climate adaptation initiatives in Siem Reap province, and work in Phum Ta Hi (through Ptea Teuk Dong, a Khmer NGO) in Bavel Province, Battambang.

Bridge in Cambodia

In October, Dr Chris Jacobson was joined by New Colombo Plan student Renee Currenti and Khmer Research Assistant Ratha Rien to refine and field-test assessment tools in Phum Ta Hi, and to meet and visit with the Lvea Krang Commune Council and Siem Reap Provincial Department of Environment. These initial visits have revealed the extent of poverty-related climate impacts in the region, and the serious secondary implications for land and food security, migration, changes in family structure and corresponding increased risk to youth safety. Vietnamese fieldwork begins in November 2015.

Dr Bridie Scott-Parker

On 20 August 2015, Dr Bridie Scott-Parker was awarded the 2015 Queensland Young Tall Poppy of the Year Award at the Queensland Museum. She is USC’s very first Queensland Young Tall Poppy. Bridie not only gained this wonderful distinction, but she was also selected as the joint winner of the 2015 Queensland Young Tall Poppy of the Year with a fellow awardee from QUT. This is a phenomenal outcome for Bridie, her research team and USC.

Bridie is rapidly establishing herself as the pre-eminent international expert in the field of Young Driver Road Safety, and has enjoyed spectacular success over the past two years. First, she was selected by the Australian Academy of Science as a speaker in the Science Stars of Tomorrow series in early 2014. Second, she was awarded a prestigious NHMRC Early Career Research Fellowship in late 2014. Next, she was awarded a major ARC Linkage Project grant in mid-2015.

This work represents another key step in USC’s journey of becoming a comprehensive and research intensive University, and can be expected to serve as a source of motivation and inspiration for staff and students at the University. We are proud to have her and her Adolescent Risk Research Unit as part of the SRC.

SUS302 - Sustainability Problem Solving

On 19 October 2015, legendary surfboard artisan and HDR student, Tom Wegener gave a dynamic and interactive talk at Alexandra Headlands beach to the University of the Sunshine Coast’s SUS302 - Sustainability Problem Solving class. The class, led by Dr Tristan Pearce and MA student Eric Lede, focused on “leadership in sustainability” through an examination of innovation and sustainability in the surfboard making industry. Tom Wegener discussed environmental, social, and economic sustainability issues while walking through the evolution of the global surfboard industry. The students were then able to experience first-hand the surfboard evolution to better understand how chasing the ‘stoke’, or ‘aloha spirit’ has spurred rapid innovation over the last few decades.

2015 SRC Annual RetreatSustainability Research Centre annual retreat

The SRC Annual Retreat was held at the Sheraton Noosa Resort on 1 October 2015. It was a very productive day for those in attendance. Dr Bridie Scott-Parker, as one of the newest members of the SRC, gave an overview on her Adolescent Risk Research Unit (ARRU). Assoc Prof Claudia Baldwin also gave a short presentation on the new RUN Water Flagship project. These talks were followed by small group sessions focusing on domestic and international agendas, communication, and targets relating to research income, publications, HDR student numbers—with emphasis on how to achieve these outcomes. The day’s program closed with positive reflections from the Advisory Board members. General consensus among the Advisory Board and members of the SRC was that a two-day retreat is preferable to a one-day retreat, as there is a lot of information to gather and process over the course of one day. The Advisory Board has just completed their annual review report.

The Sustainability Research Centre

Our niche area for the Sustainability Research Centre (SRC) is societal adaptation – more specifically, understanding the social dimensions of environmental change.

We contribute knowledge to a range of sustainability issues such as coastal management, climate change, and water management (recognised as significant at local through to international scales).

The SRC includes over 60 researchers (including 30 PhD students).

More information

Gail Wilkins
Tel: +61 7 5459 4891
Email: Gwilkin2@usc.edu.au

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