TropEco Awards 2017

2017 TropEco Sustainability Awards

TropEco Excellence Award - Staff

Winner

Professor Iain Gordon

Prof Gordon has led the transformation of JCU's approach to sustainability in 2017 by embedding the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals within the cultural core of the University’s operations.

JCU was the first university to sign the University Commitment to the Sustainable Development Goals. As Chair of the Vice Chancellor’s Sustainability Advisory Committee, Prof Gordon is maximising this commitment to identify opportunities for JCU across Research; Learning and Teaching; Governance, Culture and Operations; and Engagement and Marketing.

Prof Gordon organised and hosted an internal leadership workshop in April 2017 to align and map delivery of JCU’s commitment to the SDGs. The workshop was targeted at JCU’s senior and middle management and was attended by close to forty leaders from across the institution. It was facilitated by Professor John Thwaites from Monash University and sponsored by UniSuper.

The main outcome of the workshop was the development of Key Recommendations covering the areas of Planning; Organisational Culture and Governance; Learning, Teaching & Research; Communications and Engagement.

Prof Gordon is advocating and building cross organisational consensus for endorsement of the recommendations amongst JCU’s Executive. Implementation of the recommendations would go a long way to ensuring that JCU delivers on its SDG commitment.

Highly Commended

  • Brandan Espe

Brandan has shown considerable effort and dedication to improving the natural environment on the Townsville campus including; National Tree Planting Day, the Sunshine Edible Garden, the new green wall at Education Central, develop feature gardens, assisting the JCU Sustainability Club, and mentoring TropEco Interns. He has undertaken a number of activities to advance the Natural Assets Management Plan for the Townsville campus and brings a wealth of knowledge and enthusiasm to JCU.

  • Marenn Sagar

Marenn has done an outstanding job as TropEco Assistant at the Cairns campus, in particular in the rolling out of two new sustainability initiatives at the Cairns Campus: the Sustainable Office Accreditation Program and the Compost Bin Program. Marenn’s enthusiasm and ability to engage with both the student and staff community creates an energy toward sustainable practices on the Cairns campus.

  • Associate Professor Michael Oelgemoeller

Michael’s work has had a significant impact creating a more sustainable chemical industry and is wide reaching across a number of fields. His leadership and drive is inspiring to others at JCU and beyond.

TropEco Excellence Award - Student

Winner

  • Alexandria Bencich

Alexandria commenced as a TropEco Intern in late 2016. Alexandria started working on the War on Waste campaign, through conducting waste audits on lunch rooms around the campus, helping staff to better understand their performance and change behaviours.

In early 2017 Alexandria took a lead role in working with the local PCYC Deadly Dukes (Indigenous schools program) to develop a series of four workshops for 25 primary school students to undertake cultural activities at the Townsville campus. This program took a significant amount of planning to implement and due to its success JCU is now developing additional Indigenous Men’s and Women’s programs in collaboration with PCYC.

Alexandria then went on undertake a series of comprehensive waste audits for the Townsville campus, under a Biniris sponsorship, including physical and desktop waste audits. The audits have contributed to better planning of waste and recycling collection regimes and are estimated to save JCU $50,000 per year in the upcoming waste contract for the Townsville campus.

Alexandria has also volunteered at a number of TropEco events and has been a strong advocate for the program and for sustainable behaviours.

Highly commended

  • Caleb Puszkiewicz

Caleb’s honours thesis - Hydrogeological Assessment of the JCU Douglas Campus, assessed the groundwater resources of the Townsville campus and worked closely with the JCU Estate to better understand the sustainable use of borewater for irrigation on campus.

  • Amber Kellett

Amber showed much passion and enthusiasm in running the Cairns Sustainability Club Farmer’s Market throughout 2017. Amber has been educating volunteers and customers on why it is important to buy local and organic produce and the importance of supporting the local economy by supporting local farmers.

  • Elliot Dunn

Elliot undertook a project to engage students at Redlynch Secondary College to improve sustainability of the school. Eliott also established a Professional Development course for students to learn about public speaking and was a major driver behind the Fossil Free JCU student campaign.

Learning & Teaching Award

Winner

  • Dr Stephanie Duce and Dr Karen Joyce

Students of Geographic Information Systems (GIS) at James Cook University are getting their hands dirty by locating, mapping and analysing litter distribution for Townsville and Cairns.

The 240 students (50 in Cairns and 190 in Townsville) have formed small teams, each of which has chosen a research question and designed a program of data collection and analysis. To date nearly 20,000 points of data (or pieces of litter have been collected and mapped.

Their chosen questions include: whether there are differences in the amount and type of litter found on remote beaches, as opposed to those closer to town; what differences might be found in urban parks in lower income areas versus higher income areas, and what facilities, such as bins, are available there; where cigarette butts are found on campus, and how the distribution relates to the location of permitted smoking zones; the distribution of litter around schools, depending on whether they are primary or high schools, and in relation to the location of the nearest fast food outlet.

The students come from a wide range of disciplines, including environmental science, engineering, marine science and archaeology.

Highly Commended

  • Dr Margaret Carter

Dr Carter has implemented three key projects toward supporting students for social sustainability in recent years. These include the Prevent Cyberbullying website, the development of the Ethics and Meaningful Blending in our Guidance and Councelling and Career Development Programs eBook and, development and support for a tri-campus online community for integrating and embedding sustainable practices.

  • Leisa Atkinson

Leisa’s efforts in embedding sustainability at Ryan Catholic College, including developing units and programs on sustainable practices for years 7 to 12, and her efforts with the school’s Eco-Warriors program, demonstrate her commitment to a sustainable future for our next leaders.

  • JCU Education Academic Group/ Mr Russell Butler/ CSIRO Indigenous Stem Team/ Thuringowa High School Project

The collaboration of educators developed the Year 9 “Grow and Burn” Science class, teaching students about Indigenous plants and grasses and their fire and heat related properties. The project brings together traditional Indigenous knowledge with the latest science in an engaging program.

Alumni Award

Winner

  • Hikmah Cut Ramadhana

Hikmah works as a Technical Assistant for the Misool Foundation in Indonesia. The organization has a proven track record of delivering measurable conservation results in some of the most remote and challenging locations in the world. Hikmah is responsible for the development and management of the ranger patrol in Misool-No Take Zone areas. Together with 15 rangers, they undertake daily patrols that cover 1220 km2 of Misool Marine Protected Area. Their activities include ensuring that there is no illegal fishing, coral restoration, turtle nesting programs and community recycling. Over 500 baby turtles were released in 2017. The recycling program provides an income stream for the local community and has recycled 700 tonnes of waste and raised 600 million rupiah to date.

Highly Commended

  • Deborah Bower

Deb had demonstrating research excellence and community mindedness by publishing outstanding research and delivering a series of speeches and activities at public events. These included community frog hunting expeditions at Groote Eylandt, public presentations at March for Science and Townsville Women in Science and Technology, delivery of invited lectures at a number of universities and societies.

  • Utshab Dhoj Karki

Utshab created a computer lab and book library in a primary school in Okhaldunga, a remote and poor area of Nepal, allowing children to have access to resources that would not otherwise be available.

Leadership & Governance Award

Winners (joint winners)

  • Iain Gordon

Prof Gordon has led the transformation of JCU's approach to sustainability in 2017 by embedding the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals within the cultural core of the University’s operations. JCU was the first university to sign the University Commitment to the Sustainable Development Goals. As Chair of the Vice Chancellor’s Sustainability Advisory Committee, Prof Gordon is maximising this commitment to identify opportunities for JCU across Research; Learning and Teaching; Governance, Culture and Operations; and

Engagement and Marketing.

Prof Gordon organised and hosted an internal leadership workshop in April 2017 to align and map delivery of JCU’s commitment to the SDGs. The workshop was targeted at JCU’s senior and middle management and was attended by close to forty leaders from across the institution. It was facilitated by Professor John Thwaites from Monash University and sponsored by UniSuper.

The main outcome of the workshop was the development of Key Recommendations covering the areas of Planning; Organisational Culture and Governance; Learning, Teaching & Research; Communications and Engagement.

Prof Gordon is advocating and building cross organisational consensus for endorsement of the recommendations amongst JCU’s Executive. Implementation of the recommendations would go a long way to ensuring that JCU delivers on its SDG commitment.

  • Indigenous Reference Group

The Indigenous Reference Group (IRG) was established in late 2016 to guide the development and implementation of the Townsville Campus’ Natural Assets Management Plan (NAMP), with particular reference to the Cultural Heritage Protection section. Since its inception the informal group of passionate individuals has made significant progress in developing an Indigenous narrative for the Townsville campus and help to be a voice for Traditional Owners on environmental and cultural matters at JCU.

Chaired by Alan Carpenter, the members include Professor Martin Nakata, Bindal representative Eddie Savage, Wulgurukaba representative Megan Harrison, Adam Connell and Max Lenoy.

Key activities to date include:

  • Development of a Connections to Country curatorial proposal - An Indigenous inspired public realm, art built in and public art strategy for the Townsville campus, which has been endorsed by the Vice Chancellors Advisory Committee and will soon commence planning and stakeholder engagement through an initial workshop on 6th October.
  • Appointed a casual research assistant to work on collecting historical records and developing a digital library for the Townsville campus and local Traditional Owner group.
  • Commenced development of an Indigenous narrative for the Townsville campus.
  • Engaged with relevant stakeholders such as Gudjuda Reference Group, the Indigenous Rangers Program and the Particapatory 3D mapping process to advance Indigenous environmental and cultural management of the Townsville campus and wider area.
  • Provided wording for the Townsville campus master plan around the importance of place and inclusion of the Indigenous perspective in all future development activities on campus.

While still in their infancy, the informal group has made great strides in advancing the various initiatives in the last year and have gained the support of senior management at JCU to further advance the agenda.

Highly Commended

  • Hannah Cameron

Hannah’s efforts in embedding sustainability within her office andacting as a leader for sustainable procurement and waste management for JCU events has shown leadership across the University and sets an example for others to embed sustainable practices into their everyday lives.

  • Professor Maxine Whittaker

Professor Maxine Whittaker has demonstrated great leadership in the adoption of the One Health approach and commitment to the Sustainable Development Goals within the College of Public Health, Medicine & Veterinary Sciences. 'One Health' fosters collaboration between the various disciplines, recognizing that human health, animal health and ecosystem health are inextricably linked.

Facilities & Operations Award

Winner

  • Warp It team

The JCU Warp It system is an online portal for the internal reuse and sharing of furniture and other items within JCU. The Warp It team of Paula Rodger, Roberta Curnow, Katie Johns, Kathy Mahaffey and Loretta Castley have successfully rolled out the system to the JCU community across the Townsville and Cairns campuses and in the first month of operation, resulted in $85,000 of savings to JCU in reuse of items. Other stats include 5159kg of waste avoided, 20,651 kg of CO2 emissions avoided and 6120 minutes of staff time saved.

Without the dedication and hard work of the Warp It team in getting items loaded to the system and encouraging others to use the system it would never have been the success it is today.

Feedback from JCU staff using the platform has rated the system and average of 9/10 for satisfaction. It is expected the program will continue its initial success with a charity portal now being developed to allow charities to access unwanted items in the system, further reducing waste to landfill.

Highly Commended

  • Caleb Puskiewicz

Caleb’s honours thesis - Hydrogeological Assessment of the JCU Douglas Campus, assessed the groundwater resources of the Townsville campus and worked closely with the JCU Estate to better understand the sustainable use of borewater for irrigation on campus.

  • JCU Cairns Community Garden

The JCU Cairns Community Garden team have transformed the garden site from an empty, barren plot twelve months ago, to a productive, thriving garden today. The team consists of Jay Jackson, Garden Coordinator, and a core group of active volunteers, including Steven Williams, Dale Perkins, Ori Albert-Mitchell, Alexandra MacGregor, Monika Darrington as well as TropEco staff members Kerryn O’Conor and Marenn Sagar.

  • Andrew Thompson, Ben Lawes and Simon Wever

The team at MARFU have undertaken the construction and operation of a new sustainable integrated aquaculture system, which is used for JCU undergraduate and postgraduate teaching, high school groups and community education. Fondly termed “quaquaponics” the system incorporates the culture of ducks, freshwater fish and crustaceans with kitchen vegetables, herbs and tropical fruits.

Research Award

Winner

  • Associate Professor Michael Oelgemoeller

Michael Oelgemoeller and his green chemistry group have continued to develop sustainable alternatives to hazardous chemical processes. Chemistry has a poor reputation within the public and Michael's activities are changing this. In particular Michael has found environmentally friendly and climate-smart technologies to produce important commodity chemicals such as fragrances, pharmaceuticals, agrochemicals and repellents using natural sunlight. His group has produced these materials on kg-scales, demonstrating the suitability of this technology for local manufacturing. These processes furthermore use locally grown biomass chemicals, often from agricultural biowaste. He has also develop a sustainable insect repellent from an essential oil native to Queensland. This process is currently investigated in New Caledonia and Northern Queensland to treat insect-borne diseases. The initiative has received significant media interest internationally and locally. In addition, Michael has emerged as a global leader in sustainable water treatment using light and local minerals, i.e. titania. The process has been utilized for the degradation of pharmaceutical residues, which have emerged as a significant danger to the aquatic environment and subsequently human health. An alternative technology uses sunlight and dyes to destroy toxic pathogens in aquaculture. This green technology has been shown to control vibrio microorganisms that trouble the local prawn industry. Additional activities with NSW Health investigate water quality compliances in natural parks, public water holes and aboriginal communities. Michael has also started work on microplastic pollutants that threaten marine wildlife and degradation of surgical hospital waste, which is usually dumped in landfills and endangers ground water from leaching of toxic chemicals. Overall, Michael's research covers a variety of technologies and processes that will avoid, reduce or degrade chemical waste.

Highly Commended

  • Ben Muller

Ben has developed and refined trapping methods for the cane toad in Northern Australia. In 2017, Ben Muller and Lin Schwarzkopf have demonstrated that female cane toads are most attracted to a low frequency advertisement vocalisation that has a high pulse rate (henceforth known as the ‘Barry White’ call. Using the call with toad traps has increased capture rates from 19% to 49% of the toad population over a small area.

  • Heather Neilly

Heather’s PhD on the Wambiana Biodiversity Project looked at managing biodiversity within grazing lands to benefit landholders and the environment. The experimental grazing trials looked at the effect of different grazing strategies on bird, reptile and mammal species and the performance of the strategies for profitability and animal production.

Partnerships & Engagement Award

Winner

  • Tropical Australian Stinger Research Unit

The Tropical Australian Stinger Research Unit consists of a team of researchers and professionals from various backgrounds and cultures, operating and managing the JCU Cairns campus aquarium. We built strong relationships in 2017, both JCU internally and externally with industry partners. Through our passion for science we want to expand and share our knowledge with the world. Engagement achievements in 2017:

  • Fortnightly tours and scientific talks, organised through and in partnership with National Geographic
  • Newly established relationship with Trinity Beach High School to give a set of marine lectures to their international and science students each year moving forward.
  • Continued existing partnership with Small World Journeys, a tour operator solely dedicated to educational student tours. The aquarium tours and talks for Australian and International students are specialised to fit in with the Small World Journeys itinerary; who are aimed at educating students about Australian marine life and our work at JCU
  • Our team and the aquarium facility was the shining star of the 2017 Open Campus Day
  • Participation in the March for Science and other public events
  • Continuous improvement of public engagement activities through social and traditional media: Ranging from scientfic publications (3 so far in 2017) to the “The Nature of Science” YouTube videos, Twitter and Facebook
  • Continuous Biopixel partnership, filming in the aquarium to further education through television and film
  • Major achievement in 2017: Participating in the Young Presidents Organisation International Chapter. Presentation of our aquarium, lab, work and enthusiastic researchers to this exclusive group and engage them in 3 days of educational activities: Introduction day focused on presenting JCU facilities and researchers, two following days were dedicated to teaching about the Great Barrier Reef while snorkelling and diving accompanied by our team as marine biology experts.

Highly commended

  • Active Transport in the Tropics Network

The Active Transport in the Tropics Network have created an interdisciplinary and cross-organisational network of members to advance active transport in the Townsville and wider tropical region. The network has held a number of symposiums and members have been involved in significant research that contributes toward advancing active transport in the tropics.

  • Jay Jackson

In his role as JCU Cairns Community Garden Coordinator, Jay has been an inspiring leader in getting the garden up and running, making it a productive and engaging space for all.

  • Dr Mark Chong and Dr Amy Forbes

Mark and Amy are improving lives in the tropics through the weekly CrimWatch radio segment. Keeping the Townsville community informed with facts and demystifying important social issues such as youth crime policing and parental responsibility, they are helping the Townsville community better understand the local crime issues and how to deal with them.

People’s Choice Award

Winner

  • JCU Cairns Bicycle Users Group

The JCU Cairns Bicycle Users Group (JCU C-BUG) are a team of amazing volunteers who have achieved many successes this year including embedding the Green Bicycle Fleet Program at the Cairns Campus and increasing awareness of the JCU’s bike workshop amongst students, staff and the broader Cairns community.

JCU’s award winning Green Fleet program only commenced in Cairns in Semester 2, 2016. The program has grown from selling 6 bikes at its launch to having over 20 bicycles for sale a year later. The success of this growth can be directly attributed to the workshop team, particularly the previous bike shop mechanic, Marycarmen Martinez, and her successor Karoline Testad.

In addition, the JCU C-BUG have been particularly active at various community outreach events in 2017, holding information stalls and workshops at Market Days and at the Cairns ECOfiesta, as well as assisting the TropEco team at numerous events. The Group’s focus at these events has been to educate people about using bicycles as a sustainable transport option and raising awareness about the BUG and JCU’s bicycle workshop. These are extra curricula activities that the team undertakes on a voluntary basis.