There’s only a handful of ARC Laureates in Australia, and for the first time two Tasmanian-based researchers have received the prestigious honour.

Two outstanding University of Tasmania Professors will lead projects supported by almost $11 million in funding.

Professor Barry Brook (Chair of Environmental Sustainability in the Faculty of Science, Engineering and Technology) and Institute for Marine and Antarctic Studies Professor of Marine Biogeochemistry Philip Boyd, have received Australian Laureate Fellowships from the Australian Research Council to investigate ways to mitigate against climate change, and balance the need for human development with environmental conservation.

2015

the year the University climbed all three of the highest-profile international ranking systems, and was rated at or above world standard in 48 out of 51 units assessed in the 2015 Excellence in Research Australia results.

Professor Barry Brook

Professor Brook will investigate whether society can effectively “decouple” environmental impacts from economic growth and human prosperity, to resolve global trade-offs between human development and the competing need to conserve habitats, ecosystems and species.

“I believe the key is to pursue technologies and policies that can decouple human activities from environmental damage, or even reverse historical impacts,” Professor Brook said. 

In the past, we've used natural resources to grow the human population and economy – we've exploited the land for agriculture, forestry, energy generation and mining, and the oceans and air to dump our waste. My goal is to research ways that modern societies can co-exist with nature, by seeking the evidence for opportunities that result in win-win outcomes for both development and conservation. I believe most people want this.

48 out of 51

Disciplines ranked at or above world standard in the 2015 Excellence in Research for Australia (ERA).

“Technology, if used and shared appropriately, might allow us to peak in our use natural resources and reduce that reliance over time. Our demand for resources can decline, even with growing economies and populations, for example if we find ways to use land more efficiently for agriculture, settlements and energy generation. 

We can protect ecosystems by making them less valuable for direct appropriation by the human economy. By finding other ways to generate wealth that don't include using our natural systems, we can intensify in other areas.

Professor Philip Boyd

Professor Boyd will evaluate the feasibility of boosting carbon dioxide removal by Southern Ocean microbes to offset climate change, to provide a framework for future research and inform international policy on the use of geoengineering – large-scale intervention in the Earth’s natural systems – to mitigate against climate change.

My research trajectory has been further broadened by the need to better understand the influence of oceanic processes on Earth's climate and vice-versa.

“For example can certain oceanic processes – such as the ocean's biological carbon pump – be strengthened to 'geoengineer' the climate to mitigate rising carbon dioxide emissions?” he said. 

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