Friday, 23 November 2018 01:20

Qld scientist recognised for reef islands research

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Dr Jenine McCutcheon, University of Queensland School of Earth and Environmental Sciences Dr Jenine McCutcheon, University of Queensland School of Earth and Environmental Sciences

A Queensland scientist is paving the way to establish new methods to stabilise Australia’s reef islands — including the Great Barrier Reef — that are vulnerable to erosion, while improving understanding of mineral carbonation as a method of carbon sequestration.

Dr Jenine McCutcheon from the University of Queensland’s School of Earth and Environmental Sciences has just been recognised with the Stephen Wilkins Medal for her outstanding research. The honour is awarded annually to a PhD student judged to have completed the most outstanding thesis of the past two years and whose work was undertaken at the Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation's Australian Synchrotron.

Using ANSTO technology, Dr McCutcheon used synchrotron-based X-ray florescence microscopy in conjunction with scanning and transmission electron microscopy to examine carbonate mineral structures at the atomic level.

ANSTO says that what Dr McCutcheon discovered was an ability to protect Great Barrier Reef islands through microbially controlled cementation processes.

ANSTO chief executive Dr Adi Paterson said he was impressed by Dr McCutcheon’s work and proud to see such innovative thinking and research enabled through ANSTO.

“This is an incredible opportunity for Dr McCutcheon and for her future career in science. This medal is an important symbol of the type of work that ANSTO’s facilities can enable to create a more sustainable world,” he said.

“ANSTO is the home of applied science, and this is an example of: research that will lead us to discover more effective methods to better protect our environment and potentially the Great Barrier Reef - one of the seven wonders of the natural world.

“Through Dr McCutcheon’s work, enabled through nuclear instruments and techniques, we can seek out better methods to improve our environment."

Dr McCutcheon said, “I am very grateful for the opportunity to have my thesis considered by the ANSTO examiners. It is an honour to receive an award named after Stephen Wilkins, whose research advanced the field of synchrotron science both in Australia and around the world.

“As an early career researcher, this prize provides valuable support as I continue my research and work towards becoming an academic scientist.

“I would also like to acknowledge and thank my primary PhD supervisor, Professor Gordon Southam, who recommended me for this award, and ANSTO for providing a platform that allows me to continue to pursue my research aspirations.”

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Peter Dinham

Peter Dinham is a co-founder of iTWire and a 35-year veteran journalist and corporate communications consultant. He has worked as a journalist in all forms of media – newspapers/magazines, radio, television, press agency and now, online – including with the Canberra Times, The Examiner (Tasmania), the ABC and AAP-Reuters. As a freelance journalist he also had articles published in Australian and overseas magazines. He worked in the corporate communications/public relations sector, in-house with an airline, and as a senior executive in Australia of the world’s largest communications consultancy, Burson-Marsteller. He also ran his own communications consultancy and was a co-founder in Australia of the global photographic agency, the Image Bank (now Getty Images).

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