Vet who studies beach wildlife earns Chancellor’s Medal

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Vet who studies beach wildlife earns Chancellor’s Medal


Environmental Science student Marion Brown sets up a camera to film wildlife activity on the beach

30 September 2014

A veterinary surgeon whose love for the region’s beaches and wildlife has inspired her to excel in her studies and ongoing research will receive the University of the Sunshine Coast’s Chancellor’s Medal when she graduates this week.

Marion Brown, 47, of Sunrise Beach, will be awarded the prestigious prize along with her Bachelor of Environmental Science at USC’s Graduation ceremony from 5pm on Thursday 2 October.

The Chancellor’s Medal is presented to graduating students who have made outstanding contributions to the University or wider community and achieved a high academic level.

“I’m honoured to receive it, and a bit embarrassed,” said Ms Brown, now studying Honours in Science while working at Noosa District Animal Hospital, raising two children and volunteering with community groups including Noosa Integrated Catchment Association.

She is also a dedicated wildlife carer, rehabilitating many native animals for release.

Ms Brown earned a near-perfect grade point average of 6.96 out of a possible 7.

“I’m pretty lucky,” she said. “I had a lot of help from lecturers, including Associate Lecturer Peter Davies, and used Student Services support.

“I do feel I’m contributing to the Sunshine Coast region and I would like my research to benefit Australian ecosystems. We have the knowledge and the facilities here to do something and it’s important we get it right, set an example of sustainability.”

Ms Brown said Associate Professor in Marine Science Thomas Schlacher inspired her to continue researching coastal ecosystems.

“There are academics here who are really well respected in their fields and cited by people all over the world, so it’s great to have access to that knowledge and their networks,” she said.

She received a Vice-Chancellor’s Honours Scholarship to assist her ongoing study of the beach food web for scavengers, such as raptors, other birds and foxes.

“I’ve been doing fieldwork on Moreton and Stradbroke islands, with the aim of highlighting the importance of biodiversity,” she said.

“I grew up going to the beach at Mooloolaba, it’s part of our coastal lifestyle, so it’s cool to have a university so close to the beaches to study and research,” said Ms Brown, who gained a Veterinary Science Honours degree from the University of Queensland in the 1980s.

Ms Brown’s other achievements as a student included winning Best Student Poster at the 2014 Queensland Ornithological Conference and Best Honours Presentation at the 2014 USC Research Week.

— Julie Schomberg

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