Seaweed Research Group - University of the Sunshine Coast, Queensland, Australia

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Seaweed Research Group

Diverse experts. Common goals.


The USC Seaweed Research Group improves environmental, economic and social outcomes through the production of world-class seaweed research and development.

Made up of more than 30 academics, students and technical staff, the group is unique in its cross-disciplinary approach to seaweed research.

These leading experts help communities, government and business identify opportunities to develop and cultivate seaweed as a resource that is good for the economy, the environment and communities everywhere.

The Seaweed Research Group integrates diverse perspectives into their work from science, technology, health, business, creative industries and social science for seaweed-based solutions.


Why seaweed?

Seaweed is perhaps not the most glamorous of marine creatures, but it is certainly among the most important. In the sea, seaweeds form vast forests, which, just like forests on the land, underpin  entire marine ecosystems by providing food and shelter to thousands of species of fish and invertebrates. Seaweed forests also make substantial contributions to global biogeochemical cycles. For example, as primary producers, through photosynthesis, they absorb CO2 and produce oxygen.

Economically, seaweed is the largest aquaculture crop in the world with more than 25 million tonnes of seaweed produced per annum, which is steadily increasing at a rate of 8 percent per year and represents an aquaculture industry worth more than $US7 billion.

Seaweed also has enormous social value in terms of benefiting people's health, wellbeing and livelihoods. The versatility of seaweed, and diversity of its uses, is why a multi-faceted program is so important to the Seaweed Research Group. In addition to seaweed being an important food source for a growing global population, there is also massive scope to increase the commercial side of the industry in order to create positive societal change at a grand scale.

Key members

Professor Nick Paul

Nick is a Professor of Marine Science and leads applied research and development on seaweed and algae for new product development, based upon a platform of sustainable production.

Alexandra Campbell
Dr Alexandra Campbell

Alex is a Senior Lecturer in BioScience and an award-winning marine ecologist who combines field ecology with environmental microbiology, natural products chemistry and environmental science.

Libby Swanpepoel
Dr Libby Swanepoel

Libby is a Senior Lecturer in Nutrition and Dietetics whose research sees her working across food systems for global development. Libby currently has projects across the Asia-Pacific region, including Kiribati, Samoa and Solomon Islands.

Min Zhao
Dr Min Zhao

Min’s seaweed research focuses on bioinformatics and genomics with high-throughput integration of multiple dimensional data, focussing on the biosynthetic pathways of seaweed and industry-facing genomic browsers.

Saskia De Klerk
Dr Saskia de Klerk

Saskia is a Senior Lecturer in international business. Her areas of research include entreprenuership and innovative ecosystem development for seaweed, with an emphasis on cross-cultural management and capacity building.

Martina Jelocnik
Dr Martina Jelocnik

Martina is an ARC DECRA Research Fellow. Her research on seaweed takes a One Health approach to veterinary microbiology through the control of infections in Australian livestock and aquaculture production.

Dr Peter Brooks

Peter is a chemist with expertise in the analysis and isolation of bioactive compounds in seaweed. His research includes chromatographic and spectroscopic techniques and the quantitation of bioactive compounds from seaweed.

Scott Cummins
Professor Scott Cummins

Scott is a Professor of Molecular Biology and focuses his research on the molecular basis for natural product variation in seaweeds, with applications in the fields of ecology, aquaculture and health. Scott's multi-omics approach towards our research integrates genomics, transcriptomics, proteomic and metabolomics through the latest next-generation sequencing and mass spectrometry approaches.  


Latest seaweed news

Seaweed scientist funded to find high-value aquaculture solution
3 Mar

University of the Sunshine Coast seaweed research that could boost sustainability and cost-effectiveness in prawn and lobster farming has won a 2022 Science and Innovation Award from the Federal Government.

Food producers invited to cook up new ideas with seaweed
24 Feb

From seaweed brownies to seaweed kombucha, the sky is the limit in the USC kitchen.

Savvy students organise their own seaweed science lesson
18 Aug 2021

Suncoast Christian College students have sampled the science of seaweed as a food source after asking a USC nutrition expert to visit during National Science Week (14-22 August).

Become a citizen scientist

We’re assembling a squad of passionate citizen scientists to restore lost underwater forests on the iconic Sunshine Coast. Repairing damaged ecosystems is not only good for the environment, it’s a great way to boost your own well-being too.

Thank you very much for your interest – please complete the form below to join the squad!

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