Great minds think alike for award-winning science couple | UniSC | University of the Sunshine Coast, Queensland, Australia

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Great minds think alike for award-winning science couple

A former Australia Zoo keeper who earned a University of the Sunshine Coast Medal for outstanding grades during her Biomedical Science degree is returning to study Honours.

Cat Manwaring, 32, of Sippy Downs, took a pregnant pause in her plans to become a vet after she graduated from USC in April with a grade point average of 6.88 out of 7.

Now preparing for the birth of her third child, Cat has enrolled in the Honours degree with supervisor Dr Scott Cummins to work on research into a giant sea snail that is a predator of the pest crown-of-thorns starfish on the Great Barrier Reef.

Cat’s husband, USC Environmental Science graduate Mat Manwaring, 32, is also continuing the couple’s success in science with a national award and completion of his own USC Honours degree.

Cat, who worked in a roving team of wildlife handlers at the zoo, said she had always loved animals and been interested in veterinary medicine.

“Biomedical Science at USC was a great stepping stone,” she said. “I was accepted into postgrad veterinary science in Melbourne but deferred.

“I’ve decided to enrol in Honours at USC because I really enjoyed my degree, particularly biochemistry and pharmacology and a research project with Dr Cummins to find chemical receptors in a tropical parasite.”

She said receiving the University Medal was a lovely surprise. “It is full-on, having kids and studying and tutoring, but you just have to be prepared all the way through,” she said. “It’s nice to see it all pay off.”

Mat is celebrating an Australian Society of Sugar Cane Technologists award for his Honours research.

He won the Mac Hogarth Award for Agriculture at the 2015 conference held in Bundaberg in April.

“I studied the abundance of microarthropods (tiny invertebrates in soil) as predators of pests in sugar cane plantations,” he said.

“I’ve found USC to be really engaging. The way the lecturers teach is fantastic. Doing two student research projects in my undergraduate degree gave me the drive to do Honours, and hopefully a PhD here.

“I see the value in agriculture and entomology. I want to make a difference by looking at ways to get rid of pest species in an environmentally friendly manner, to protect our food security.”

— Julie Schomberg

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