Uni receives funds for research

SOUTHERN Cross University has received $1.68 million in funding for geochemistry research projects and for a world-first health and environmental project involving a personal carbon trading scheme.

The world’s first Personal Carbon Trading program will be conducted in a ‘closed system’ island environment on Norfolk Island, commencing early next year using a $390,000 grant from the Australian Research Council.

Leading chief investigator is Professor Garry Egger, a Professor of Lifestyle Medicine and Applied Health Promotion at Southern Cross University. Island residents and visitors will be issued with a Carbon Card.

When they pay for petrol or power and later food, it will not only be paid for in money but it will also come off the carbon units that they are given for free at the start of the program.

“If they’re frugal and don’t buy a lot of petrol or power or fatty foods, then they can actually have units to spare at the end of a set time period so that they can cash those in at the bank and make money from them.” Prof Eggers said.

“If they aren’t frugal and they are very wasteful and they produce a lot of carbon and consume unhealthy foods then every year they will have to buy extra units.”

The main goals of the project are to test the effectiveness of a Personal Carbon Trading Scheme over a three-year period; reduce per capita carbon emissions, and; reduce obesity and obesity-related behaviours. Southern Cross GeoScience received $980,000 for two projects, which will provide key information on fundamental geochemistry processes and will have application in the remediation of coastal plains and managing water quality.

One project, led by Professor Richard Bush, is exploring how iron transforms and accumulates in acidifying coastal lowlands and allow researchers to predict some of the unforeseen environmental impacts of remediation projects carried out on coastal plains.

The second project, led by Dr Ed Burton, which has received $380,000, will investigate metastable iron sulphide minerals and the role they play in controlling surface and groundwater quality.

As part of this funding, Dr Burton has received a prestigious Australian Research Fellowship, one of only 33 granted across Australia.

A project led by Professor Bradley Eyre, the director of SCU Centre for Coastal Biogeochemistry Research, has also received $310,000. This will look at how permeable carbonate sediments in the ocean, particularly along continental shelves, absorb CO2.

The funding was announced by the Innovation Minister, Senator Kim Carr, as part of the Australian Research Council’s 2011 Major Grants Announcement.

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