Winter 2016

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Winter 2016


Visiting scholar, Dr Alan Ripoll

Alan Ripoll is a non-affiliated Brazilian researcher who is currently visiting the SRC. Alan is a biologist and his Masters, PhD and postdoctoral research involved interdisciplinary topics, such as ecological adapted tourism (focused on elderly and disabled people), sustainable architecture and Polish migration.
He works in research partnerships with institutions in Brazil (UFPR, PUCPR, UnB and UP), Colombia (UAN), Germany (RUB), Mexico (UdG) and Uruguay (UdelaR) as well as engaging in international group discussions on questions related to modern migration.

At the SRC, Alan is studying public open spaces in the context of accessibility and evaluation of the Aboriginal presence on the Sunshine Coast. His project is entitled as ‘The Polish immigrant and the Aboriginal Australian: two stories, two references to the future’. He strongly believes that it is impossible to separate the current reality from the elements involved in its formation in the past. Under this perspective, he is analysing the local dynamics based on Brazilian experience with Indigenous peoples, migration, and social inclusion.
Alan is supported by the National Council for Scientific and Technological Development (CNPq), the main Brazilian funding institution, as part of the Science without Borders Program. He intends to prolong his stay at USC/SRC in order to deepen his developing research and consolidate these fields of work, which are still incipient in Australia.

Non-Government organisation leaders share ideas and knowledge to help tackle climate change

Some of Australia’s most prominent non-government organisations (NGO’s) met recently in an innovative workshop to share knowledge and insights into how we can adapt to climate change. An initiative by the National Climate Change Adaptation Research Facilities’ social, economic and institutional dimensions adaptation network (SEI Network) presented a unique opportunity for a ‘think tank’ workshop, which also aimed to build a platform for continued collaboration. Held in Sydney, NGO Theme Leader Assoc. Prof Dana Thomsen said “we recognise that many NGO’s have substantial experience and are already assisting communities affected by climate change. We really wanted to organise a workshop which facilitated the sharing of lessons amongst these groups so we could all collectively learn of their successes and challenges as well as explore strategies for climate change adaptation”.

The SEI network was also keen to receive feedback and recommendations to inform the National Climate Change Adaptation Research Plan: Social, Economic and Institutional Dimensions of Climate Change. Coordinator of the SEI Network Sarah Connor said “this Plan will help guide priorities and work for the future and the insights and feedback from the organisations working at the forefront of these issues is invaluable”. The SEI network plans to continue promoting collaboration around each of its focus Themes: Indigenous, NGO, Business and Industry and Government. Further information can be found on the SEI network opportunities.

Enquiries to Associate Prof Dana Thomsen, NGO Theme Leader, University of the Sunshine Coast, email: tel: (07) 5456 5407.

SRC graduate leading Arctic field research

Eric Lede who hails from Darwin is completing his MA in Geography at the SRC and is supervised by Dr Tristan Pearce with the support of committee member, Dr Graham Ashford.
His journey began in late December when Eric joined Tristan and his Cana-dian graduate student team in Vancouver, B.C. for the ArcticNet Annual Scientific meeting. ArcticNet is a Network of Centres of Excellence of Cana-da and brings together Inuit and University scientists from a range of disci-plines to study the impacts of climate change in the Arctic. Eric presented a poster of his Masters research ‘Vulnerability and Adaptation to Climate Change in the Context of Multiple Stressors in the Arctic,’ which is co-funded by ArcticNet and the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada. At the meeting, Eric was elected by his graduate student peers to sit on the ArcticNet Student Association Executive Committee.

Eric's Masters research is part of Project: ‘Community Vulnerability, Resili-ence and Adaptation to Climate Change in the Canadian Arctic’ led by Dr Pearce and Dr James Ford, McGill University, Canada. The aim of Eric's research is to examine the role of multiple climatic and non-climatic stressors in adaptation to climate change in the Arctic. This involved living and working with Inuit in the remote hamlet Paulatuk for two months where Eric conducted interviews and participated in daily livelihood activi-ties, including hunting and fishing. Following fieldwork, Eric represented the SRC at the Regional Climate Change Adaptation Planning Workshop in Inuvik, the regional centre in the Western Canadian Arctic. Eric is currently analysing his data and preparing to return to the Arctic in January 2017 to share his research findings and work together with Inuit research partners to publish his data.

Research in the upper Burdekin River basin

Ben Jarihani and Jack Koci joined the SRC during the last half year associated with Professor Sidle’s catchment project in the upper Burdekin River ba-sin. Ben (pictured left) is a CSIRO-funded post-doctoral researcher with training in hydraulic engi-neering and physical geography. In addition to his academic training, Ben has extensive experience in hydrologic consulting. In his current position, he is developing models to link sources of sediments from grazed catchments in the upper Burdekin with sediment export to the Great Barrier Reef. Jack Koci (pictured right) is a Ph.D. student on an APA scholarship and also has scholarships from Meat and Livestock Australia and CSIRO to support his research. Jack has an Honours degree from James Cook University with a soils/environmental science background and worked with ACIAR for two years prior to coming to USC. He will be evaluating hydrogeomorphic processes contributing to gully development in the upper Burdekin. Jack’s research will help inform the sediment models that Ben is developing.

USC research on Indigenous history breaks readership records

A research paper on Indigenous oral histories has broken readership records for the prestigious academic journal Australian Geographer. The paper, co-written by Professor of Geography Patrick Nunn and University of New England linguist Associate Professor Nick Reid, has been downloaded more than 14,000 times, making it the most read arti-cle in the journal’s 116-year history.

The researchers spent three years studying Aboriginal stories from 21 places around Australia’s coastline, each of which described a time when sea levels were significantly lower than today. They concluded that as current sea levels in Australia were reached 7,000 years ago, the stories about the coastline stretching much further out to sea had to pre-date that time. In the editorial of the latest edition of Australian Geographer, editor Professor Chris Gibson described the double-length paper as a landmark piece of scholarship that bridges geography, coastal science, anthropology and Aboriginal studies. “The product of a gigantic amount of collaborative and synthetic research, Patrick Nunn and Nicholas Reid’s article connects Aboriginal oral histories of coastal sea-level change in Australia with the scientific record, across many thousands of years, circumnavigating the entire continent,” Professor Gibson wrote.

Professor Nunn said he was delighted that so many people had shown an interest in the article, titled ‘Aboriginal Memories of Inundation of the Australian Coast Dating from More than 7000 Years Ago’. “The paper has generated a degree of publicity I don’t think we ever anticipated in writing it,” he said. “In the past, anyone suggesting that oral traditions could survive for more than 7000 years was considered to be really on the scientific fringe. “What we’ve done in this paper is scientifically demonstrate those stories have survived, and we’ve done it using a very novel method, using what we know about sea level changes.”

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

Download the Sustainability Research Centre Winter 2016 Newsletter (PDF 3MB) *

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