Harvard ecologist visits USC’s Fraser Island research centre - University of the Sunshine Coast, Queensland, Australia

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Harvard ecologist visits USC’s Fraser Island research centre

6 Mar 2017

An expert ecologist from Harvard University has arrived at USC to help boost teaching and academic opportunities at USC’s research and learning centre on Fraser Island.

Professor Aaron Ellison, a Senior Research Fellow in Ecology at Harvard Forest, is spending 10 days working with USC academics at both the Sippy Downs campus and at the Dilli Village centre on Fraser Island.

The recently appointed USC Adjunct Professor in Forest Ecology has started work with a team to collate research that has been undertaken on the island, as well as coordinating a dialogue between traditional owners, academics and other stakeholders.

The respected researcher and author, who is also a semi-professional photographer, said the team would produce a two-year research action plan to help guide USC’s activities at Dilli Village.

“Fraser Island is such an interesting place, where activities like ecological research, land management and tourism come together in a culturally significant environment,” he said.

“We’re aiming to bring together all the groups who have an interest in this, particularly the traditional owners, to ensure that the human interaction with this landscape is sustainable and ecologically sound going forward.

“The other major part of my work with USC is to help a team of academics, librarians and students synthesise all the research that’s been conducted on the island – from studying animal ecology to measuring the impact of tourism.”

A key part of Professor Ellison’s action plan is to help USC Library staff further develop the Fraser Island Collection, a project that will include digitised publications, research data, oral histories and donated collections.

Professor Ellison said he hoped his visit would help USC academics create a well-targeted and valuable research agenda for Fraser Island.

“The concrete outcome I’ll be coming away with is the start of a research paper, but in the broader sense, I’m hoping to start a productive and ongoing dialogue between these different stakeholders,” he said.

Originally a sand mining camp, Dilli Village was managed by the Queensland Parks and Wildlife Service before being relinquished to USC in 2000.

Today, Dilli Village is used as a fieldwork base for USC students in programs including Science, Tourism, Outdoor Education and Environmental Planning, with teaching closely linked to ongoing research projects on the island.

Dilli Village also provides cabin and camping accommodation for the public and school groups. More information can be found at usc.edu.au/dilli.

— Gen Kennedy

Professor Aaron Ellison, a Senior Research Fellow in Ecology at Harvard Forest, is spending 10 days working with USC academics.

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