Research Projects

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Surface pollution is widespread and a globally significant challenge

Research Overview:

Since the dawn of the Industrial Revolution, humans have introduced hazardous contaminants into the environment; often unintentionally, but mostly as a consequence of our anthropocentric activities. Pollutants cause biodiversity decline, impair ecosystem function, are linked to major human health issues, as well as restrict human interaction, agricultural practices, and development in formerly safe regions across the world.

This research lab investigates and develops solutions for terrestrial and aquatic surface contamination across Australia, with particular emphasis on heavy metals and Petroleum Hydrocarbon mixes. We work within the Environmental Science Research Team at UTS.

  • We are interested in developing new methods and technologies to reduce terrestrial and aquatic land contamination in a safe, cost-effective and non-destructive way.
  • We work within urban areas of the Sydney catchment, but also have field sites in coastal and regional New South Wales. Our manipulative glasshouse projects are conducted in the rooftop facilities of the UTS Science building.
  • We are open to collaborating with community and educational groups, as well as industry and NGO partners.

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Phytoremediation:

Phytoremediation is a method which harnesses natural plant processes to assist in the immobilization and clean-up of pollutants from surface landscapes. Over the last two decades it has been proven to be a cost-effective and environmentally friendly alternative to many other remediation technologies.

This method has been shown to be effective in cleaning up key hazardous organic compounds, like Petroleum Hydrocarbons and PCB, as well as heavy metals including Lead, Uranium, Arsenic and Mercury. So far, more than 400 species have been shown to have phytoremediation properties of the approximate 400,000 approximate plant species on Earth.

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Oil Spill Remediation:

Our lab also investigates traditional and emerging approaches for remediating oil spills. Using Australian and international guidelines, we test the effectiveness and safety of differing sorbent booms across a range of scenarios via laboratory and mesocosm simulations.

This work is an ongoing and evolving series of projects, with the overarching goal to improve our current approaches for oil spill clean up.

Previous Research – Invasive Plant Species:

Previous research of the lab includes invasive plant species in Australia, and exploring the introduction and life history traits of these species in a comparative context. For more information on the outcomes of these projects, please see Publications and Media.