Dr Kai Schulz, a research scientist at the Helmholtz Centre for Ocean Research Kiel in Germany, will receive $714,528 to undertake a research project with Southern Cross University’s Centre for Coastal Biogeochemistry Research.
The project, titled ‘Future carbon cycling – predicting and understanding coccolithophorid calcification in a changing ocean’, will investigate the impact of increased carbon dioxide levels in the ocean and the subsequent impact on coccolithophores – one-celled marine plants that live in large numbers throughout the upper layers of the ocean.
Professor Bradley Eyre, director of the Centre for Coastal Biogeochemistry Research, said Dr Schulz was interested in working with the Centre because of its research expertise and environment, and facilities.
“Dr Schulz will be a very welcome addition to our team, adding to the strength of our world-class research and increasing our capacity for further collaborations,” Professor Eyre said. “In particular, Dr Schulz will add to our ocean acidification research program.
“Ocean acidification is often said to be the evil twin sister of climate change. As we put more carbon dioxide into the atmosphere about one-third of that is being absorbed into the oceans. That in turn is lowering the pH thereby increasing the acidity. That’s going to have a dramatic impact.
“Dr Schulz’s project will look at the impact of those changes on algae which are the base of the food web of the marine environment.”
Dr Schulz graduated with a PhD in biogeochemistry from the University of Bremen in 2006 and has been employed as a research scientist at the Helmholtz Centre for Ocean Research Kiel since 2007.
“This project is about location, location, location,” Dr Schulz said in his proposal. “The Centre for Coastal Biogeochemical Research at the Lismore campus and the National Marine Science Centre at Coffs Harbour will be the ideal place for the proposed research, in terms of existing expertise and infra-structure (isotope labs, aquarium facilities for setting up mesocosm experiments), collaboration and easy access to coastal and oceanic coccolithophore assemblages.”
The Future Fellowships, announced by the Minister for Science and Research, Senator Chris Evans yesterday (July 25), provide research opportunities for some of the world’s best mid-career researchers.
“It also brings 23 international researchers to our shores to experience the great research opportunities we offer here and to share their knowledge with Australian researchers,” Senator Evans said.
Professor Neal Ryan, Southern Cross University Pro Vice Chancellor Research, said the funding was further evidence of the University’s growing research capacity.
“It is impressive that we have received funding through the Future Fellowships for three years running and I look forward to welcoming Dr Schulz to the University,” Professor Ryan said.
Professor Ryan said the collaboration demonstrated the Centre for Coastal Biogeochemistry Research’s national and international leadership in the field of geochemistry, in which Southern Cross University received the highest rating of well above world standard in the most recent Excellence in Research for Australia 2010 national report.