Grants boost research into key threats facing the Reef

A Townsville researcher is undertaking a study on the effects of plastic pollution on coral in the Great Barrier Reef supported by a Reef Guardian Research Grant from the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority.

Marina Santana is one of 12 post graduate students to receive a grant to carry out ground-breaking research into the key risks and threats facing the Great Barrier Reef.

Mrs Santana said while microplastics had become a major pollutant of marine environments, their real impacts were still unclear.

“The grant has allowed me to take a vital step in my research — a field survey at Lizard Island to sample sea water, sediment and organisms for microplastic contamination,” Mrs Santana said.

“The information collected during last week’s survey will be used in laboratory experiments to investigate ecological effects.

“I hope the outcomes of my research can assist with environmental management.”

Mrs Santana is undertaking her post graduate studies through James Cook University and the Australian Institute of Marine Science.

Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority chairman Dr Russell Reichelt congratulated the winners, saying he looked forward to hearing the outcomes of the research.

“As Australia’s lead managers of the Great Barrier Reef, we’re delighted to provide these grants to assist students undertaking research projects to improve the future management of the Reef,” Dr Reichelt said.

“Over the 40 years we’ve supported a number students early in their career, more than 300 grants awarded on topics related to the Reef’s health and management.”

The successful research projects include coral genomics, species management, tourism monitoring, water quality improvement and climate change impacts.

The 2018 grant recipients were post graduate students from six universities: James Cook University, University of Melbourne, Monash University, Griffith University, Queensland University of Technology and University of Queensland.

The grants program provides funding from $1000 to $5000 for successful research projects.

The awards are open to students working towards a doctorate or master’s degree in the physical, biological and social science disciplines throughout Australia.

A full list of award winners is available on our website.