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Articles categorized as ‘University of Queensland Environmental Sciences’

Thursday, February 23rd, 2017

Introducing the new UQ School of Earth and Environmental Sciences

Resources and energy, climate change, urbanisation, population growth, conservation and sustainability will be areas of focus for a new University of Queensland school.

Introducing the new UQ School of Earth and Environmental Sciences

Professor Aitchison is head of the new UQ School of Earth and Environmental Sciences (Photo: UQ)

The UQ School of Earth and Environmental Sciences came into being on Jan. 1 and now combines UQ’s School of Earth Sciences and the School of Geography, Planning and Environmental Management.

Professor Jonathan Aitchison, who will head the new school, said it would be an interdisciplinary powerhouse of academic expertise, developing practical solutions to big issues.

“The school will give greater breadth and depth to the study of earth and environmental sciences, greatly benefitting students, strengthening research capacity, and will provide greater disciplinary coherence and opportunity,” said Professor Aitchison, the Head of UQ’s School of Earth and Environmental Sciences.

“It makes sense to bring earth and environmental sciences together in the university.

“The new school is a recognition of the increasingly interdisciplinary nature of geological and geographical sciences, environmental management, coastal processes, urban planning and safety science.”

Professor Aitchison said UQ had a strong international reputation for excellence in earth and environmental sciences.

It ranks number 1 in Australia in life sciences in the Times Higher Education Ranking and number 12 globally, number 32 internationally in geography, and is in the world’s top 100 Earth and Marine Sciences institutions in the 2016 QS rankings by subject.

“The combined staff of the new school are recognised as experts in their fields,” Professor Aitchison said.

“They conduct pure and applied research with strong links to our industry, government and university partners who have provided excellent support over many years.

“In addition, our people have a strong reputation for quality teaching of undergraduate and postgraduate students in all discipline areas across the new school.”

Professor Aitchison said integrated teams of earth scientists, physical and social scientists, environmental management specialists, health and safety experts, and urban planners would work together to generate new knowledge and opportunities for further discovery.

Current collaborative research projects and consulting pieces would continue as usual and new projects would begin as funding and support becomes available.

“By providing a new academic structure for these related disciplines we will provide opportunities to improve end-to-end delivery of services and research outcomes,” he said.

“This benefits industries, government, university partners, and communities, and continues availability of state-of-the-art facilities for industry and research project work.”

Professor Aitchison is a geologist and an expert in plate tectonics, palaeontology and geo-microbiology.

University of Queensland Environmental Science Degrees

Master of Agribusiness
Master of Agricultural Science
Master of Conservation Biology
Master of Conservation Science
Master of Environmental Management
Master of Geographic Information Science
Master of Integrated Water Management
Master of Mineral Resources
Master of Responsible Resource Development (Environment)
Master of Rural Development
Master of Sustainable Energy


Find out more about your study options at the new UQ School of Earth and Environmental Sciences. Contact OzTREKK Admissions Officer Shannon Tilston at shannon@oztrekk.com.

Monday, October 31st, 2016

UQ Science International Scholarships are available!

Are you considering applying to a UQ Science program? There are international scholarships for that!

UQ Science International Scholarships are available for outstanding international students in undergraduate or postgraduate coursework programs.

UQ Science International Scholarships

Apply for a UQ Science International Scholarship

Award value: AU$3,000 or AU$10,000 depending on the award

Applications close: December 1, 2016

To be eligible for a UQ Science International Scholarship, you must

  • be classified as an international student in Australia
  • have an unconditional or a conditional offer (with all conditions met by the scholarship closing date) from UQ
  • for undergraduate programs, have completed senior high school and obtained an entry score that equates to a Queensland Tertiary Education rank of 96 or higher
  • for postgraduate programs, have completed an undergraduate degree and obtained a GPA (Grade Point Average) of 6 or higher on a 7-point scale
  • not have already commenced your studies at UQ, even if you seek a change of program
  • not simultaneously hold another scholarship
  • for the Full Degree Scholarships: be an international student enrolling in year one of a UQ Faculty of Science full degree program
  • for the Advanced Standing Scholarships: be an international student enrolling in a UQ Faculty of Science program with advanced standing (credit articulation)

About the award

Two different scholarships are available:

  • The Full Degree Scholarship is awarded to students enrolling in year one of a UQ Faculty of Science full degree program and is a single payment of AU$10,000
  • The Advanced Standing Scholarship is awarded to students enrolling in a UQ Faculty of Science program with advanced standing (credit articulation), for example on the basis of previous study at a Polytechnic, and is a single payment of AU$3,000.

Selection criteria

Following the closing date, UQ will select winners based on a competitive, merit-based process, based on

  • candidate’s academic performance as demonstrated by their Grade Point Averages (GPA)
  • Candidate’s potential to contribute to science, assessed on the basis of their personal statements


Would you like more information about applying for a UQ Science International Scholarship? Contact OzTREKK Admissions Officer Shannon Tilston at shannon@oztrekk.com or call toll free in Canada at 1-866-698-7355.

Monday, June 20th, 2016

Barrier Reef rodent is first mammal declared extinct due to climate change

University of Queensland and Queensland Government researchers have confirmed that the Bramble Cay melomys—the only mammal species endemic to the Great Barrier Reef—is the first mammal to go extinct due to human-induced climate change.

In a newly published report, the scientists conducted a comprehensive survey in 2014 but failed to find any trace of the rodent.

Barrier Reef rodent is first mammal declared extinct due to climate change

The Bramble Cay melomys (Photo: UQ)

The rodent was known only to live on a small (4 ha) coral cay, just 340m long and 150m wide in the Torres Strait, between Queensland in Australia and Papua New Guinea.

“Because a limited survey in March 2014 failed to detect the species, Bramble Cay was revisited from August to September 2014, with the explicit aims of establishing whether the Bramble Cay melomys still persisted on the island and to enact emergency measures to conserve any remaining individuals,” Dr Luke Leung of the UQ School of Agriculture and Food Sciences said.

“A thorough survey effort involving 900 small animal trap-nights, 60 camera trap-nights and two hours of active daytime searches produced no records of the species, confirming that the only known population of this rodent is now extinct.

“Anecdotal information obtained from a professional fisherman who visited Bramble Cay annually for the past 10 years suggested that the last known sighting of the Bramble Cay melomys was made in late 2009.”

Dr Leung said the key factor responsible for the destruction of this population was almost certainly ocean inundation of the low-lying cay, very likely on multiple occasions, during the past decade, causing dramatic habitat loss and perhaps also direct mortality of individuals. The cay sits at most 3m above sea level.

“Available information about sea-level rise and the increased frequency and intensity of weather events producing extreme high water levels and damaging storm surges in the Torres Strait region over this period point to human-induced climate change being the root cause of the loss of the Bramble Cay melomys,” he said.

Dr Leung said the fact that exhaustive efforts had failed to record the rodent at its only known location and extensive surveys had not found it on any other Torres Strait or Great Barrier Reef island gave him confidence in the assertion that Australia had lost another mammal species.

“Significantly, this probably represents the first recorded mammalian extinction due to anthropogenic climate change.

“However, new information is provided in support of a previously presented hypothesis that the Fly River delta of Papua New Guinea is a possible source of the original melomys population on Bramble Cay, so the Bramble Cay melomys or a closely related species might occur there. “

Dr Leung said it could be premature to declare the Bramble Cay melomys extinct on a global scale.

The study was led by Ian Gynther from Queensland’s Department of Environment and Heritage Protection and in partnership with UQ researchers Natalie Waller and Luke Leung.


Are you interested in studying climate change and other environmental sciences programs at the University of Queensland? Contact OzTREKK’s Environmental Sciences Admissions Officer Shannon Tilston at shannon@oztrekk.com.

Friday, May 13th, 2016

Apply for a Master of Integrated Water Management scholarship!

The Master of Integrated Water Management at the University of Queensland is one of the few courses in the world that takes a truly transdisciplinary, integrated approach to water management in both developed and developing country contexts. The degree is co-badged and co-delivered by leading industry practitioners and lecturers from International WaterCentre’s founding member universities: University of Queensland, Monash University, Griffith University, and the University of Western Australia.

UQ Master of Integrated Water Management

Brisbane’s City Cat ferries rely on proper water management

Master of Integrated Water Management

The Master of Integrated Water Management program aims to build future leaders in water management with an emphasis on working either in rural international development, in urban water policy and management, or across stakeholders in the context of integrating water resource management for water, food, energy and environment. The program draws on the expertise of international leaders in education and research across a wide breadth of disciplines, taking a trans-disciplinary whole-of-water-cycle approach that equips students with practical tools and skills for developing and managing the implementation of innovative solutions to local, regional, national and international water challenges.

This program is custom-designed to give participants the technical, managerial and leadership skills they need to create innovative and sustainable solutions to global water challenges. Three specialisation streams are available:

  1. International Development
  2. Urban Water
  3. Water, Land and People

Students will develop the strategic, managerial and technical skills they need to advance in the water sector. They will become familiar with all aspects of integrated water resource management; be capable of providing water management expertise to help reduce poverty through equitable and sustainable use of water; be skilled to provide technical and managerial input into planning, design and operation of water projects and facilities; understand the principles of managing water supply, wastewater treatment and urban infrastructure projects; recognise the socio-economic factors impacting on effective water solutions; and understand the governance and institutional frameworks underpinning water resource management. The program focuses on building the skills base of students in such areas as critical thinking, problem solving, statistics and data management, knowledge transfer and effective leadership.

While students enroll at UQ, modules are jointly delivered by world-leading industry experts and lecturers from IWC’s four founding universities. Upon graduation, students receive a co-badged degree. This means they receive a testamur with the logos of all four universities. For more information, visit the IWC website (www.watercentre.org/education/masters).

Program: Master of Integrated Water Management
Location: Brisbane, Queensland
Duration: 1.5 years
Semester intake: February
Application deadline: November 29, 2016

Apply to the University of Queensland!


Scholarships for Master of Integrated Water Management candidates

The International WaterCentre (IWC) is currently offering a full-tuition scholarship for a future water leader from North America, Europe and selected countries in Asia to study the Master of Integrated Water Management commencing in February 2017 at the University of Queensland.

  • U.S. and Canada citizens can apply for this scholarship (valued at AU$52,500)
  • Apply online by July 31, 2016
  • Note: unsuccessful U.S. and Canadian applicants for the scholarship who are self-funded will also have access to partial scholarships (up to the value of AU$9,500 – including AU$7,000 towards tuition fees and return flights to Australia)

MIWM Program & Scholarships Live Webinar 2016

IWC Senior Lecturer and Education Program Manager Dr Brian McIntosh will present the MIWM program, scholarships and answer questions on June 29, 2016 (Australia time). Register at https://watercentre.wufoo.eu/forms/miwm-program-scholarships-live-webinar-2016/


Would you like more information about environmental science programs like the Master of Integrated Water Management at the University of Queensland? Contact OzTREKK Admissions Officer Shannon Tilston at shannon@oztrekk.com or call 1-866-698-7355.

Monday, April 25th, 2016

UQ sparks electric vehicle revolution

The University of Queensland is embracing the future of sustainable transport, installing four solar-powered electric vehicle chargers at its St Lucia and Gatton campuses.

UQ sparks electric vehicle revolution

Car at the Veefil DC fast charger (Photo credit: UQ)

The chargers are the first solar-powered fast-charging infrastructure to be built in Queensland, and are available for free use by the public as well as staff and students.

UQ Chief Operating Officer Mr Greg Pringle said UQ was helping lead the charge for widespread use of electric vehicles.

“UQ is committed to creating a more sustainable future, and we see the installation of this infrastructure as a real milestone for the development of sustainable transport in Queensland,” he said.

“We hope the chargers will motivate staff, students and the wider public to consider the many benefits of electric vehicle travel.

“They’re powered by UQ’s solar arrays, meaning that when the sun is shining, charging is emissions-free.”

Each campus has one Veefil DC fast charger, which can charge fully electric vehicles or compatible plug-in hybrid vehicles, and one Tesla Destination Charger designed for use with Tesla vehicles.

Mr Pringle said Veefil chargers were designed and built in Brisbane by Tritium, a leading clean tech company founded by UQ graduates Dr Paul Sernia, Dr David Finn and Mr James Kennedy, who began working together on the UQ solar racing team in 1998.

“UQ is delighted to host the chargers, playing our part in the positive change these graduates are creating,” he said.

Tritium CEO Dr Finn said he was excited to be working with UQ to help kick-start the electric vehicle revolution in Queensland.

“The Veefil charger at Gatton is a first for Queensland as it allows easy inter-city electric vehicle travel between Brisbane and Toowoomba,” he said.

“We’ve installed hundreds of our chargers in North America and in other parts of the world, but it is great to see more going in where it all began.”

The Veefil chargers can provide a range of up to 70 kilometres for every 15 minutes of charging – about 10-times faster than traditional charging options.


Would you like information about sustainability and other environmental sciences programs available at UQ? Contact OzTREKK Australian Environmental Sciences Admissions Officer Shannon Tilston at shannon@oztrekk.com.

Thursday, April 21st, 2016

UQ solar milestone

The University of Queensland has slashed grid electricity use at its Gatton campus by 40 per cent since bringing Australia’s largest solar research facility on line a year ago.

UQ’s Manager of Energy and Sustainability, Andrew Wilson, said the 3.275 megawatt facility generated more than 5.8 million kilowatt hours of renewable energy since installation in March last year.

Sydney Dental School

Solar research facility at UQ’s Gatton campus (Photo: UQ)

“This is equivalent to the annual electricity usage of more than 1,000 average Queensland households, and the displacement of more than 5,300 tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions,” Mr Wilson said.

“We’ve seen the net electricity consumption from the grid of the Gatton campus reduce by almost 40 per cent as a result.

“This is achieved by exporting energy back to the grid when the campus’ consumption is lower than the energy generated by the array, typically during the middle of the day,” Mr Wilson said.

Director of Clean Energy at UQ’s Global Change Institute (GCI), Professor Paul Meredith, said the environment was not the only beneficiary as the solar farm had saved UQ more than half a million dollars in electricity costs so far.

“These savings are being invested back into research programs at the university, helping to solve the complex challenges of transforming the way we produce energy,” Professor Meredith said.

“The full-scale research we’re able to conduct with the Gatton facility is helping us to better understand how clean energy options like photovoltaics fit into our state and national electricity mix, from both an engineering and economic perspective.”

Mr Wilson said the first year of operation for the plant hadn’t been without its challenges.

“The cost of maintaining the grass at the 10-hectare site was higher than we anticipated.

“We will soon arrange for sheep to graze between the rows and keep the grass manageable,” Mr Wilson said.

In addition to reducing ongoing operational costs this initiative will increase the available land on campus for agricultural research.

Real-time and historical information on the Gatton Solar Research Facility and all of UQ’s solar arrays can be viewed on the UQ Solar website. (www.uq.edu.au/solarenergy)


Learn more about sustainability and other environmental science programs available at the University of Queensland. Contact OzTREKK Admissions Officer Shannon Tilston at shannon@oztrekk.com.

Thursday, March 24th, 2016

University of Queensland ranked among world’s best

The University of Queensland is number one in Australia in two subject areas and among the world’s top 20 in four, a global review published this week confirms.

The QS World University Rankings by Subject 2016 places 11 UQ subject areas in the world’s top 30.

University of Queensland

University of Queensland ranked is among world’s best

UQ ranks at number one in Australia in Mineral Resources and Mining Engineering (10th globally) and Environmental Science (12th globally).

The university ranks 17th globally in Agriculture and Forestry and 18th in Education.

UQ’s other QS global top-30 subjects:

Vice-Chancellor and President Professor Peter Høj said UQ’s top-ranked subjects deserved their national and international acclaim.

“It’s fitting that a leading university in a biodiverse and resource-rich nation is among the world’s best in mining and environmental subjects,” he said.

“Our globally strong performance in these subjects is a reflection of UQ’s hard work in areas where we can create change for industry and the environment.”

Professor Høj said it was gratifying that the University of Queensland had high-ranking QS subjects across the wide span of the university’s endeavour.

“UQ’s quality teaching and research takes place across a comprehensive range of top-rated disciplines, with an enviable breadth not enjoyed by all universities,” he said.

“This interdisciplinary strength is a great asset to UQ researchers and students.”

Professor Høj said the QS subject data reflected UQ’s position among the world’s top 50 universities, as ranked in the QS World University Rankings and the Performance Ranking of Scientific Papers for World Universities, and within the top 100 in another five key independent rankings.

QS assessed 42 subject areas in 2016, with 37 UQ subject areas featuring in the top 100.

The QS World University Rankings by Subject, published annually since 2011, highlights the world’s leading institutions in individual subject areas.

This year QS evaluated 4,226 universities in more than 60 countries.

Tuesday, March 1st, 2016

Worst emitters least affected by climate change

Global climate change resembles a room of secondhand smoke, new research has found, with countries emitting the least amount of gasses suffering the most.

The study by the University of Queensland and the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) shows a dramatic global mismatch, with the highest emitting countries—including Australia—the least vulnerable to climate change effects.

UQ Environmental Sciences

Industrial emissions (Photo credit: UQ)

Lead author Glenn Althor, a PhD student in the UQ School of Geography, Planning and Environmental Management (GPEM) said, in contrast, the countries emitting the least amount of greenhouse gases were the most vulnerable to effects such as increased frequency of natural disasters, changing habitats, human health impacts, and industry stress.

“There is an enormous global inequality in which those countries most responsible for causing climate change are the least vulnerable to its effects,” Mr Althor said.

“It is time that this persistent and worsening climate inequity is resolved, and for the countries with the greatest emissions to act,” he said.

Co-author Associate Professor James Watson of GPEM and WCS said the situation resembled secondhand smoking.

“This is like a non-smoker getting cancer from secondhand smoke, while the heavy smokers continue to puff away,” he said. “Essentially we are calling for the smokers to pay for the healthcare of the non-smokers they are directly harming.”

The researchers conducted a global analysis of the relationship between a nation’s carbon emissions and vulnerability to climate change.

They found that 20 of the 36 highest emitting countries—including the U.S. Canada, Australia, China, and much of Western Europe—were the least vulnerable to its impacts.

Eleven of the 17 countries with low to moderate emissions were most vulnerable to climate change. Most were found in sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia.

The authors said these countries were not only exposed to serious environmental change such as oceanic inundation or desertification, bu they were also generally the least developed nations, having few resources available to cope with these issues.

They said the mismatch between the culprits and the affected areas acted as a disincentive for high-emitting “free-rider” countries to mitigate their emissions.

The researchers predicted that the number of acutely vulnerable countries would worsen by 2030 as climate change-related pressures such as droughts, floods, biodiversity loss and disease mounted.

Associate Professor Richard Fuller of the UQ School of Biological Sciences said the researchers had quantified these inequities using publicly available data.

“The recent Paris agreement was a significant step forward in global climate negotiations,” he said.

“There now needs to be meaningful mobilisation of these policies, to achieve national emissions reductions while helping the most vulnerable countries adapt to climate change.

“The free rider countries need to do much more to ensure that they bear the burden of coping with climate change impacts.”

The study appears in the journal Scientific Reports.


Find out more about environmental sciences programs at the University of Queensland! Contact OzTREKK Admissions Officer Shannon Tilston at shannon@oztrekk.com or call toll free in Canada at 1-866-698-7355.

Thursday, February 11th, 2016

Innovation leader is new head of UQ Dow Centre

The University of Queensland has appointed Professor Chris Greig as chair of its multi-million-dollar Dow Centre for Sustainable Engineering Innovation.

The centre works globally to drive technological advancement, frontier research and world-class education programs to find solutions to the core sustainability issues of the 21st Century.

UQ Engineering School

Chris Greig (Photo: University of Queensland)

UQ Vice-Chancellor and President Professor Peter Høj said Professor Greig’s leadership would play a vital role in the university’s response to global sustainability challenges.

“His impressive record of contributions to the university and to the energy sector mean he is well-equipped to ensure the Dow Centre fosters innovations that create real change around the globe,” Professor Høj said.

“His extensive experience tackling challenges in sustainability will help ensure the Dow Centre contributes to delivering a sustainable future for the planet.”

Professor Greig, a UQ alumnus who also leads the UQ Energy Initiative, said the appointment would allow him to build even stronger international collaborative partnerships across academia and industry, to build on UQ’s work to provide knowledge leadership for a better world.

“I hope to increase the impact of our research by aligning the focus to real world challenges,” he said.

The Dow Centre for Sustainable Engineering Innovation is a collaboration between UQ’s Australian Institute for Bioengineering and Nanotechnology, the UQ Global Change Institute and the UQ School of Chemical Engineering.

Professor Greig founded and led a successful process innovation company for 15 years before working in senior executive roles in the construction and resources sector.

Before joining UQ he was Project Director and CEO of ZeroGen, which conducted one of the world’s most comprehensive studies on the potential of a large scale, low-emissions coal-fired power project incorporating carbon capture and storage.

“I see partnerships between universities and global industrial companies like Dow Chemical as critical if we are to play a serious role in enabling a more sustainable future in which economic growth can occur without compromising the well-being of future generations,” Professor Greig said.

Professor Høj said inaugural Dow Centre Director Professor Eric McFarland had left a long-lasting and positive legacy for the centre.


Find out more about studying sustainability and engineering at UQ. Contact OzTREKK Australian Engineering Schools Admissions Officer Shannon Tilston for more information at shannon@oztrekk.com or call toll free in Canada at 1-866-698-7355.

Thursday, January 28th, 2016

Water key to cooling Australian cities

A group that comprises Australia’s top water experts has welcomed a federal government plan to make cities greener and cooler.

The Cooperative Research Centre for Water Sensitive Cities (CRCWSC), which includes researchers from universities across Australia and experts from local and state governments, and water utilities and private industry, welcomed the plan announced in Sydney by acting Cities Minister Mr Greg Hunt.

Australian Environmental Sciences

Water plays a key role in making cities and towns more livable

The Centre’s acting chief executive officer, Professor Jurg Keller from the University of Queensland, said water played a key role in making cities and towns more livable.

“Heat waves are an emerging urban health crisis, and greening our cities helps reduce the problem,” he said. “Trees and green parks need water. They save energy, improve our comfort and foster a social and active lifestyle, so greening our cities is critically important for our well-being.”

Professor Keller said the CRCWSC was a well-connected, national research centre, and was keen to work with the federal government on efforts to create to greener, healthier cities.

“Delivering green cities requires integrated and coordinated action by councils, urban water authorities, state governments and private industry, so it’s encouraging to hear that the federal government will develop a vision for greener Australian cities and work with the states to implement this vision.”

CRCWSC urban climate researcher Professor Nigel Tapper, from Monash University, said there was strong evidence that a green, leafy park, tree-lined street or urban waterway could drop the local temperatures by several degrees.

“This cooling is extremely important for reducing heat-related deaths, particularly during the very hot days of the year, which we’re seeing more often and for longer periods nowadays,” he said.

“Just as households and industries, the vegetation in our cities depends on water. We need to make the most of what is a limited resource, and the Centre is identifying novel solutions to keep our cities green using new water sources and efficient water usage.”

CRCWSC urban planning expert Professor Darryl Low Choy, from Griffith University, said it was important to incorporate water into all facets of planning from strategic regional and metropolitan scale plans, through to district and suburban plans, right down to subdivisional and site scale plans.

“This enables cities to maximise the benefits of all sources of water, including stormwater, groundwater and new water supplies such as desalination and water recycling,” he said.

“If water is added as an afterthought in the planning process, we miss major opportunities of the integrated approach.”


Would you like to receive more information about environmental science degrees? Contact OzTREKK’s Australian Environmental Sciences Admissions Officer Shannon Tilston at shannon@oztrekk.com or call toll free in Canada at 1-866-698-7355.