crcCARE offers scholarships for potential and existing PhD and Honours students to investigate issues relating to environmental contamination and remediation.
A dynamic education and training program is essential in attracting and retaining the best new students and scientists for the long-term benefit of the Australian remediation industry. The Australian contamination assessment and remediation industry has a growing reputation as a global leader, in terms of both innovation and the industry’s uptake of new technologies. crcCARE’s scholarships are typically offered with the support of crcCARE’s industry participants, ensuring the discoveries and innovations of our students are connected directly to their immediate adoption by the industry sponsors.
PhD studies are undertaken at the University of Newcastle and are supported by the expert staff at the University’s Global Centre for Environmental Remediation, which boasts an impressive laboratory equipped with the latest analytical instruments.
crcCARE’s Education Program also provides additional training to crcCARE students to support them develop the transferable or functional skills commonly desired by employers.
The research themes offered to our students reflect the current environmental challenges in our sector as described in our research programs.
Four of the current student research themes, which demonstrate the diversity of our research, are:
1. New, emerging and complex chemicals: A range of complex and emerging contaminants, including per- and poly-fluoroalkyl substances (PFAS), microplastics, pharmaceuticals and pesticides – are polluting our environment. We know too little about the extent and movement of these contaminants, or of the risk they pose. This lack of knowledge causes anxiety in the community and exposes government and industry to significant legal action.
Industry participant Agilent has supported two crcCARE fellowships to develop improved analytical approaches in this field.
2. Methane has caused about 30 per cent of global warming and is 80 times more potent as a greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide. The primary sources of methane are non-renewable energy production and agriculture, with livestock making up the largest single source of global methane emissions.
Industry participant Latin Resources has sponsored a crcCARE project to develop the application of halloysite, a clay mineral found in the arid Australian environment, to adsorb greenhouse gases. The project includes two PhD scholars who aim to modify the naturally adsorbent properties of the clay to increase its take-up of greenhouse gases, particularly methane, leading to reduced climate change impacts.
3. Groundwater flowing through a contaminated site can carry volatile organic compounds (VOCs) and other contaminants through the soil into residential areas. The contaminants can penetrate building foundations and taint indoor air.
Industry participant, Department of Defence, is sponsoring a project with one PhD scholarship to develop a multidimensional model to estimate risk posed by volatiles that migrate into buildings. Another sponsored PhD student is researching glyphosate pesticides.
4. Biosolids have long been recognised as a major source of nutrients as well as organic matter for soil-plant growth, as well as for the maintenance of soil organic matter that helps sequester carbon. However, the recent recognition of the presence of toxins, including PFAS, in biosolids has led to significant challenges with the utilisation of biosolids as a source of plant nutrients.
Industry participant Water Industry Alliance is sponsoring a PhD fellowship to investigate the soil – plant transfer of PFAS in biosolids.