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Maiden Voyage

Investigator heads south

Australia's new ocean research vessel, the RV Investigator, has returned to port in Hobart after making its maiden science voyage to the Southern Ocean to deploy moored observatories generating high-frequency measurements that will help researchers in their climate studies.

Located 500km south-west of Tasmania, the Southern Ocean Times Series forms part of Australia's Integrated Marine Observing System (IMOS), a network of instruments providing observations of biological, physical and chemical properties.

The Southern Ocean has a predominant role in the movement of heat and carbon into the ocean interior – thereby moderating Earth's average surface climate, its variability and rate of change.

The voyage was a collaboration between the Antarctic Climate and Ecosystems Co-operative Research Centre, IMOS – both based at the University of Tasmania – the University's Institute for Marine and Antarctic Studies, the Australian Bureau of Meteorology and the Australian Marine National Facility.

That Settles It

Award recognises history academic as a rising star

University of Tasmania history academic Dr Penelope Edmonds has been presented with the Academy of Social Sciences in Australia Early Career Award for Panel C (history, philosophy, law and political science).

Dr Edmonds is at the forefront of international scholarship in the field of 19th-century colonialism.

Her reputation was enhanced with Urbanising Frontiers: Indigenous Peoples and Settlers in 19th-Century Pacific Rim Cities and the esteem in which she is held will only be strengthened with Settler Colonialism and Reconciliation: Frontier Violence, Affective Performances and Imaginative Refoundings.

Hitting Her Stride

Fish disease PhD project a medal winner

The Australian Maritime College's Dr Megan Stride has been awarded the Rob Lewis Medal for her research into epitheliocystis, a widespread and fast-acting disease that affects both wild and farmed fish stock.

Epitheliocystis is a disease caused by chlamydia-like bacteria that affects the gills and occasionally the skin of fish, causing respiratory distress and, in severe cases, death. It can be costly to the aquaculture and fisheries industries with the potential
to destroy tanks of farmed fish overnight.

The medal commemorates the contribution of Professor Rob Lewis, AMC Council Chair from 1997-2004, and is awarded annually for excellence in postgraduate research.

Dr Stride's PhD project investigated infection levels in farmed and wild fish in Tasmania and South Australia

Key Survey

Census reveals local innovation

A crucial survey reveals how and where Tasmanian businesses are innovating.

The 2013 Tasmanian Innovation Census, conducted by the University of Tasmania's Australian Innovation Research Centre (AIRC) and released late last year, tracks the new or improved goods and services in local businesses.

AIRC Director and Professor of Innovation Anthony Arundel said the census was the third such survey looking into a vital element of the Tasmanian economy.

"Innovation is the key to the future competitiveness and prosperity of Tasmanian businesses," he said.

"Whether they are world-firsts or incremental improvements, innovations are linked to better economic performance for businesses, the economy and the community."

The census surveys all Tasmanian businesses with five or more full-time employees.

It has been implemented in 2007, 2010 and 2013, with each covering the previous three years.

"There are several positive results from the 2013 census, including an increase in the share of firms that introduced a product innovation, an increase in the share of sales from innovative products, and an increase in investments in research and development."

Land Blow

Native grasslands area set to shrink

By 2050, the Tasmanian Midlands is likely to look very different as plants and animals are impacted by climate change.

At the release of the Landscapes and Policy Hub's research findings, Professor Ted Lefroy said climate modelling suggests that by 2050, the land area suitable for native grasslands is likely to have shrunk considerably. By 2100, only small areas with suitable climate should remain. "As the climate changes, we are likely to see shifts in the species that make up the grasslands and the species that depend on that community," he said. "This is a significant finding which questions how and where we should be putting our conservation effort."

Launching their one-stop shop website Life at Large on March 10, researchers joined land managers and landholders to discuss how to take a big-picture view of the Tasmanian Midlands.

"The Life at Large website describes how to take a big-picture view of natural values and the processes that support life at the scale of a whole region," Professor Lefroy said.

Using Raw Milk the Right Whey

New regulations for cheese makers

Australian cheese makers can now make some cheeses using raw milk, with the Australia and New Zealand Ministerial Forum on Food Regulation lifting a ban in late January.

Studies at the Tasmanian Institute of Agriculture will help raw-milk cheese manufacturers make cheeses safely under the new regulations. Over the past two years, the Associate Professor in Food Microbiology at TIA's Food Safety Centre, Tom Ross, and his co-workers, turned their laboratory into a mini cheese-making factory to study which types of cheese can be made safely using unpasteurised milk.

"Food safety is essential to industry sustainability and we need to be confident raw-milk cheese is not going to cause food-borne illnesses from contamination with pathogenic bacteria," Dr Ross said.

Reef Belief

Innovative move to improve seafood production

The first steps in a science project with dramatic potential to significantly enhance seafood production from the sea have been taken at Taroona with the deployment of two artificial reefs on which a population of marine animals can be raised. Australia has the world's third-largest marine jurisdiction.

Innovative, careful and sustainable accredited use could make Australia a major seafood supplier.

The University of Tasmania's Institute for Marine and Antarctic Studies is working with Victorian company Southern Blue Reefs to trial the artificial reefs and open offshore territory for the development of innovative new marine production industries.

Project leader Professor Stewart Frusher said Australia had the potential to become a world leader in innovative offshore marine production systems based on high value and sustainable reef species.

The long-term vision is to develop a large-scale, flexible floating reef system beyond the continental shelf.

"Australia's major fisheries, by value, are reef-based – abalone and lobster," Professor Stewart said.

"Artificial reefs thus offer the opportunity to build on our existing resources and reputation for high quality and sustainable products.

"Reefs are the rainforests of the seas and the most productive marine regions.

"The start of our reef journey is a proof of concept experiment to determine an appropriate artificial reef design where, in this case, lobsters can be housed and raised."

Using hatchery-cultured lobsters grown at IMAS, researchers will undertake an evaluation of the viability of stock enhancement using eastern rock lobsters.