University of Melbourne : Careers Guide 2012
Pollution of the waterways is a major problem for many species, including this baby swamp hen. NATURE & ENVIRONMENT iSTOCK Researchers at the Victorian Centre for Aquatic Pollution Identification and Management (CAPIM) are on the case, working hard to develop novel methods to identify and manage previously undetected pollutants and overcome limitations in current monitoring techniques. In the past, scientists in this area faced challenges such as being unable to distinguish exactly where the pollutant was coming from and then measure it at a variety of concentrations. Drought, climate change, the fast-growing human population and the needs of industry all place demands on our increasingly precious water resources, posing great challenges to maintaining healthy aquatic ecosystems. “Pollution is a major threat to these systems, but currently it is difficult to know what effect pollution has on aquatic ecosystem health, what specific pollutants are causing stress and what can be done to reduce pollution impacts,” says Dr Vincent Pettigrove, CAPIM’s Chief Executive Officer. “CAPIM brings together world-class researchers to use available technologies and develop new ways to isolate pollution impacts,” he says. “ We didn’t have the right tools to be able to identify certain toxins, but the new monitoring approaches developed at CAPIM allow us to measure chemicals that have never been measured before.” CAPIM has brought together a wide range of expertise to focus on correcting the problem – a team that includes zoologists, entomologists, geneticists, chemists and ecotoxicologists. According to Professor Ary Hoffmann, the Research Director of CAPIM, the Centre uses the latest chemical detection methods and new biological approaches that take advantage of rapid advances in DNA and protein technologies. The Centre is led by the University of Melbourne, working with experts from Melbourne Water, the Department of Primary Industries (VIC), Environment Protection Authority (VIC) and RMIT, demonstrating the kind of typical multi- partner structure that is likely to become the standard for tackling the big environmental problems in the future. Testing the waters Better identification and management of water pollution will continue to be one of the big challenges for the future in order to protect aquatic ecosystems and water resources. Sally Sherwen » Kerri Rusnak » Master of Forest Ecosystem Science (MFES) Kerri, originally from Edmonton, Canada, had a successful career in business and IT, but she felt a strong urge to help counter the adverse impacts of climate change. In 2011, she completed her studies in a Master of Forest Ecosystem Science (MFES). She says the MFES gave her the information to make the change she sought. “ This degree offers the knowledge, skills and analytical capabilities to shape the development of forest and natural resource management enterprises worldwide,” she says. Through her studies, Kerri took a placement in Colombia in 2011 with Anthrotect, a project developer working with landholders and community groups to make conservation, rather than land clearance, a viable alternative for forest- based communities. These projects seek to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, protect biodiversity and preserve the livelihoods of those who live in and from threatened forests. Kerri also had placements with Intrepid Travel, URS, Timbercorp, CO2 Australia and Fauna and Flora International. She sees her IT background as an advantage, as it can help her engage with stakeholders through the implementation of adaptable project management and business-development techniques. This can start as early in the process as the generation of ideas, through to ‘productisation’, which is when they are translated into viable and profitable business models.