Academy announces Indigenous travelling scientist awards

February 19, 2020

Dr Michael-Shawn Fletcher and Mr Frank Loban are the recipients of the Australian Academy of Science Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Scientist Travelling Research Award for 2020.

Dr Fletcher, a senior lecturer at the University of Melbourne, will use the award to visit researchers at Udayana University in Denpasar and field sites at Lakes Buyan and Beretan in Bali. His work looks at the long-term interactions between humans and climate using environmental data.

Lake sediment cores provide a natural archive or ecological record of what happens before, during and after times of environmental change—including changes in the rainfall associated with summer monsoons over northern Australia and South-East Asia over the past 1,000 years.

Dr Fletcher is aiming to use lake sediment cores to help track the response of the East Australian Summer Monsoon to changes in solar radiation during the Little Ice Age. There is strong evidence that the monsoon failed to reach northern Australia during this time, having a profound impact on the people and vegetation of the region.

Mr Loban, a PhD student at James Cook University, will use the award to visit New Zealand. He will meet with and learn from members of Terra Moana New Zealand (the largest Maori-owned fisheries company in New Zealand) about their fisheries management and governance framework with the aim of applying this knowledge to assist in managing the Torres Strait fisheries into the future.

“The key objective of my project is to investigate existing national and international research knowledge on the management of fisheries that have recognised Indigenous interests, how this knowledge interfaces with commercial enterprises, and sustains the health of the fisheries and the cultural traditions of the Indigenous people,” Mr Loban said.

The award recognises research primarily in the natural sciences by outstanding Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander early- and mid-career scientists and PhD students. It also supports the expansion and growth of each scientist’s research networks and international knowledge exchange, through visits to relevant international centres of research.

The award is part of the Academy’s national effort to champion diversity and inclusion in the sciences and empower the next generation of scientists. This will strengthen the voice of science and support scientific excellence.

This award recognises research primarily in the natural sciences, but also supports interdisciplinary and socio-cultural research that incorporates the social sciences and humanities. Applications are now open for the 2021 award. More information about the award.

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