COVID-19 Advice for the JCU Community - Last updated: 8 June 2022, 12pm (AEST)

2016 TropEco Award winners

2016 TropEco Sustainability Awards


  • Max Burns

As part of an Action for Sustainability grant, Max Burns designed and implemented a composting program at the JCU Townsville campus, collecting food waste from lunch rooms and food outlets across campus to compost at the Rotary community garden. Since its implementation it has composted 1523 kg of food waste from 17 lunch rooms and two food outlets around campus.

Due to the success of the program the Estate Office has agreed to continue the program indefinitely and has allocated a cleaning staff member to continue the program, with plans to significantly expand the program in 2017. The program has also been extended to the Cairns campus, with food waste collections being taken to the Cairns Community Garden site for composting.

Highly Commended

  • Cairns Bicycle Workshop

Current bike mechanic Mary Carmen and previous mechanics Kristina Knappett and Una Curry have nurtured a strong team of bicycle enthusiasts on campus by providing bike mechanic services, skill sharing, education and empowering others to maintain their own bikes. The Green Bike Fleet program has also been rolled out this year in Cairns.

  • Brandan Espe

Brandan has propagated, established and GIS mapped, numerous rare and endangered plant species on the Townsville campus in 2016. He has helped rejuvenated the Rotary community garden, including refreshing the soil and replanting all the raised beds, and designing and installing a large fruit orchard in collaboration with the Sustainability Club.


  • Richard Webb

As a part of his TropEco Internship Richard has developed a comprehensive and interactive sustainability induction module for JCU. The module will allow all staff and students at JCU to interact with and understand the concepts of sustainability, how they are used and demonstrated at JCU and what individuals can do to ensure that they are behaving in a sustainable manner. Richard’s work will ensure there is a cohesive culture of sustainability and that we are all working towards a common goal for the future. The modules are interactive and engaging, rather than another tick list induction that doesn't necessarily inspire thought and action.

Highly Commended

  • Professor Bob Stevenson

As the Director of the Centre for Research and Innovation in Sustainability Education (CRiSE), Professor Bob Stevenson and is a leader in the field of Education for Sustainability (EfS). He is highly regarded amongst his colleagues and the student body and is recognised as a great leader at JCU, nationally and internationally.

  • The Townsville Sustainability Club

The JCU Townsville Sustainability Club is newly formed and has been working hard - running stalls; clothes swaps; beach clean-ups; invasive weed clean-ups; tree planting days and creating educational media for the Cultural Festival. They have made numerous community connections, working with organisations such as; Tangaroa Blue, ACTNow, TropEco, SANTE and Permaculture Townsville.

  • Dr Maxine Newlands and A/Prof Hilary Whitehouse -for the Eco-Feminism, Educators and Climate Change Symposium

Knitting Nanna’s, Climate angels, Cairns councillors and even the local Green party candidate came together for a unique symposium on Ecofeminism, Educators and Climate Change (EFECC). The free event led to the development of a network of educators, activists, researchers and climate change advocates in the field of environmental education.


  • Unicare - JCU Early Learning Centre

Unicare JCU Early Learning Centre, particularly the “Yellow Room” and “Green Room”, have been instilling the principles of environmental sustainability into the pre-schoolers in the centre.

Their students are the next generation of problem solvers who will be left to face the environmental issues inherited from previous generations. To instil in them the general principles of environmental sustainability, is to equip them from an early age for the task they have ahead, and to also teach them preventative measures.

In 2016 the students have learnt about; recycling, water usage, composting, gardening, and the damage caused by littering (particularly ocean animals, but also in general). All these concepts have been put into action with numerous demonstrations of sustainable activities happening at the centre.

Furthermore, the principles of environmental sustainability are being taught in such a way that the students are able to close the loop by recalling later and acting upon what they have been taught, in contexts outside the classroom.

Highly Commended

  • Dr Margaret Carter

Dr Margaret Carter has demonstrated a multidisciplinary approach to the development and implementation of the Prevent Cyber Bullying website and online learning resources.


  • Dr Rabin Tuladhar – for 100% recycled plastic fibre concrete reinforcing

Dr Rabin Tuladhar has led the research collaboration to produce 100% recycled plastic fibre from industrial plastic wastes to reinforce concrete. The fibres have already been used in concrete paths on campus at Parkinson Rd and will be used for The Science Place pathways.

The process eliminates the need for steel mesh in concrete, saving labour and time and most importantly it recycles plastic waste and reduces carbon emissions by more than 90% over the traditional use of steel for reinforcement.

Highly Commended

  • Alex Olsen and Jake Wood

Alex and Jake have developed a robot that is able to differentiate weeds from other plant life using an algorithm that detects a range of variables including colour, shape and texture.

It has been successfully tested on Lantana camara, a weed of national significance and the team is now expanding to include other weeds. The long term goal is to develop a fully autonomous vehicle for weed control.

  • A/Prof Bobby Mathan and Karly Ronan

For the use of waste materials to produce an important biomedical product - hydroxyapatite (a magnesium based biomaterial, produced from egg shells and urine). Converting biowastes into value‐added product such as hydroxyapatite will have a prodigious and sustainable economic development and also pave the way for a more effective waste management.

  • Padmakana Malakar

Padmakana’s project is a greener approach for rapid production of antimalarial agents by continuous feeding of air into the liquid reagent stream that travels through narrow tubing wrapped around a visible light source. The eco-friendly reactor set-up can easily be transported to Malaria is endemic countries. The project is part of the ongoing Eradiate Insect-borne Diseases Activities of the Oelgemoeller group.


  • Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Marine Science program

The Aboriginals and Torres Strait Islanders in Marine Science (ATSIMS) program helps to fill the gap between the potential of young, Indigenous Australians and careers in marine science and management. It brings together traditional ecological knowledge and western marine science through field-based, hands-on curriculum activities. Now in its fourth year, ATSIMS has engaged with over 150 Indigenous year 9 and 10 students from schools spanning from the Burdekin to Ingham. Program activities bolster students’ interest in marine science careers, and provide the skills, confidence, experience and knowledge to pursue those careers. In 2015, the first cohort of ATSIMS alumni graduated from school, and many are now at university, some the first members of their families to do so. ATSIMS recently joined the newly formed Australian Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Centre at JCU.

Highly commended

  • Townsville Sustainability Club
  • Cairns Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Market Team

The Fresh Fruit & Vegetable Market team run a weekly market stall selling fresh produce to students and staff at the Cairns campus. The team voluntarily organise all aspects of the market stall from pick up of the produce from the suppliers (Real Food Network) to delivery at campus, and sales. Ten percent of sales profits gets donated to the JCU Sustainability Club.

  • Cairns Sustainability Club

The JCU Sustainability Club is one of the most active student clubs on campus with hundreds of members. The club provides leadership on sustainability matters for the student body and the broader community. Club members run active campaigns on topical sustainability matters such as single use plastics and divestment from coal. The club holds weekly meetings, regular events such as movie nights, organises and hosts a range of professional development workshops for students.


  • Rebecca Webb – for her work as a research assistant with the One Health Group on infectious diseases in wildlife.

Rebecca is a core element of the One Health Group at JCU, accepting a large amount of responsibility for the group's research. For example, she maintains the Australian Frog Chytrid fungus Collection and runs the diagnostic service. She cares for a group of Australia's most endangered frog (corroboree frogs) and has created a sustainable insect breeding facility which reduces live food shipments. She has led world first research on disinfection and treatment of the frog chytrid, leading to first author publications.

She has been crucial to the success of various students and post docs over the past decade. She has a broad and unique range of skills that she brings to wildlife studies.

Rebecca also engages with the broader community, giving talks at schools and museums and assisting work experience students.


  • Unicare – JCU Early Learning Centre

Over the last two years, the staff and children at JCU Unicare have been participating in a program of collecting rubbish on campus, setting up vegetable gardens, composting and establishing worm farms. The teachers and kids are very passionate about our JCU environment! Keep up the good work Eco-warriors!


  • Lorna Hempstead and Professor Bob Stevenson


Lorna Hempstead is a true JCU sustainability champion, demonstrating leadership and commitment through personal action. As an active and engaged member of JCU’s Sustainability Action Group (SAG), Lorna is a key driver in keeping the group focused on its purpose of creating and implementing sustainability initiatives at JCU. She is an initiator of ideas but also someone that gets the job done, leading by example. This can be demonstrated by the way in which Lorna organised and oversaw the collection of personal e-waste from JCU’s Cairns campus earlier this year. Lorna initiated the idea through the SAG, organised the pickup and coordinated project communications. Lorna is selfless in her approach to sustainability both on and off campus. She is always willing to share her ideas, networks and experience to assist others kick sustainability goals. Lorna deserves to be recognised for her extraordinary efforts in improving sustainability at JCU.


Professor Bob Stevenson is the Director of the Centre for Research and Innovation in Sustainability Education (CRiSE) and is a leader in the field of Education for Sustainability (EfS). Professor Stevenson is a passionate advocate for EfS within learning, teaching and research. He is highly regarded amongst his colleagues and also the student body, providing support to and mentoring students that are active within EfS. A collaborative leader, Professor Stevenson works across the university to facilitate cooperative partnerships between Divisions and Centres. He is also active in national and international EfS, being Executive Editor of the Journal of Environmental Education and initiating and being involved in many international research and engagement collaborations. Professor Bob Stevenson is recognised as a great leader amongst his peers and is highly deserving of this award for his contribution to EfS and to JCU over many years.

Highly Commended

  • Julie Parison - for establishing the Active transport in the Tropics group.

In 2016 Julie started a group exploring ‘active transport in the tropics’ with the vision ‘By 2030, Townsville is the safest, most active eco-friendly transport city in Australia and the Tropics’. The cross-disciplinary group brings together members from across JCU and external to JCU to advance active transport in the tropics.


  • Brandan Espe

Brandan started a WIL/TropEco Interns project in early 2016 to propagate, establish and GIS map, rare and endangered plant species on the Townsville campus to enhance the local biodiversity and assist teaching, learning and research. To date he has volunteered over 200 hours between his WIL and TropEco Intern projects. Brandan has also volunteered for most TropEco events in 2016, and has rejuvenated the Rotary community garden, including refreshing the soil and replanting all the raised beds and designing and installing a large fruit orchard in collaboration with the Sustainability Club.

Brandan has also assisted in liaising with local Indigenous elders and JCU staff to source and establish trees for the Outdoor Indigenous Learning Centre so that they can be used for cultural teaching of local species and their uses.

Brandan has been a student representative on the Townsville Master Plan Sustainability working group. His legacy will be remembered for many years to come, with the establishment of so many new species of trees and plants on campus that will benefit teaching, learning and research into the future.

Highly commended

  • Carolyn Reimann (TSV) – for establishing the Townsville campus fresh food farmers’ market.

In early 2016 Carolyn approached TropEco about organising a farmers’ market on campus, after working with Food rescue and seeing the large amount of local fresh fruit and vegetables that were unsold at local markets. Carolyn coordinated all aspects of the farmers’ market, working closely with JCU staff and local farmers Crystal Creek Fresh, to ensure the market ran smoothly. Due to its initial success the market has become a weekly event with hundreds of staff and students visiting the market each week for fresh local produce.

  • David Coley (TSV) – for his work as President of the Sustainability Club and championing sustainability at JCU and Rotary International.

David helped establish the Townsville JCU Sustainability Club in 2016 and took on the role of president at the inaugural meeting. David has lead and completed events such as the clothes swap, beach clean ups, and two gardening days and has been a part of the community garden team on campus. David established an Organic waste collection program at Rotary international house after he was inspired by Max Burns’ award winning composting project.

Group shot