SCU scientist honoured
Only third Aussie to get top award
SOUTHERN Cross University lecturer Dr Damien Maher will be awarded a prestigious prize in America for his extensive research on coastal areas.
The CERF Scientific Cronin Award for early achievement recognises the significant accomplishments of an estuarine scientist who is in the early stages of his or her career development.
The lecturer will only be the third Australian recipient of the award in its 20-year history.
Dr Maher said the broad swathe of research he did saw him travel all over the world, including Australia, Asia, America and Europe.
He said it had appeal to the selection committee because of its engagement with the community, and the broader implications of the research.
In the five years since he completed his PhD, Dr Maher has done work on carbon cycling and how climate change is influencing the carbon cycle in rivers, estuaries and the coastal systems, as well as research on coral reefs, sea grass systems and mangroves. He has also investigated the ground water/surface water connection and how utilising those ground water resources can influence the biology and ecology of rivers and estuaries.
“I have been doing a broad sweep of research across a bunch of really important and relevant areas,” he said.
“I was really ecstatic when I heard I had won – it is such an honour to win this award.”
It was the first time Dr Maher had entered and it was his research on how coal seam gas development might influence downstream rivers that was highlighted by the selection committee.
“Anything that influences ground water flow or the supply of ground water to surface water and how that flows from mountains to the coast has implications for the coastal systems,” Dr Maher said.
“You have to look at these things much more broadly because what happens upstream affects downstream.”
But it has not all been smooth sailing for Dr Maher, who has often had to deal with difficult conditions to conduct his research.
“I have done a lot of work in mangroves, for example, which is hot and steamy with lots of mosquitoes and midges,” he said.
“And you are sitting out there on a boat for a couple of weeks taking samples very regularly and not sleeping so much and getting eaten.”
SCIENCE’S SHINING EXAMPLE: Dr Damien Maher will be presented with the prestigious CERF Scientific Cronin Award for his coastal and estuarine research.