Advanced Water Management Centre

Director's Report March 2019

Thursday, 28 March 2019
  • Director Zhiguo Yuan

At AWMC we continue to break new ground in innovative water management. In January, we were successful in our first CRC-Projects grant application in this relatively new, industry-led scheme. In collaboration with QUU and 5 industry and government partners our research will expand from urban- to regional application in the CRC-P, Transforming wastewater treatment in regional Australia with robust technology for multiple benefits.

Over the past year, our research team has collaboratively applied for more than 16 ARC grants from Discovery and Linkage schemes, on topics ranging from antibiotic resistance in the water cycle… to biofuel production. Of note, we also applied for funding from the ARC Special Research Initiative: PFAS Remediation Research, and for an Industrial Transformation Training Centre (Biosolids). I am also pleased that 3 early career AWMC researchers submitted applications for the ARC research capacity building program, DECRA.

We also instigated the UQ Digital Water Initiative, kicking off with a stakeholder workshop in November with over 30 participants from 17 different organisations. This Initiative aims to lead the digitalisation revolution that will soon transform the water sector across the globe.

Two of our research projects are finalists in the 2018 AWA National Research Innovation Award: UGOLD which uses a microbial electrochemical system to recover nutrients from urine (AWMC and QUU), and Zero greenhouse gas emissions from wastewater systems (SA Water and AWMC).

The impact of our research outputs over the past year is evident in the latest Nature-Index results: our Fractional Count of 17.9 represents 13% of the UQ total, where UQ is ranked No. 1 in Australia and No. 86 in the world. If it were a university, AWMC would be among the top 500 universities in the world and top 20 in Australia.

Our capacity-building program continues to go from strength to strength. In 2018, 15 PhD students enrolled with AWMC and 5 graduated. Two of our graduates, Dr Chen Cai and Dr Xueming Chen, received the UQ 2017 Dean’s Award for Outstanding Higher Degree by Research.

Our new Master of Engineering in Urban Water has officially commenced, attracting 5 students in Semester 1, with more than 40 offers for Semester 2. Program Coordinator Dr Gilda Carvalho will be exploring ways to enhance the student experience through her successful UQ EAIT Student Strategy Grant.

It is with warm wishes that after 20 years of dedicated service to the AWMC, we farewell Dr Beatrice Keller-Lehmann, who will be enjoying an early retirement. Beatrice led the development of the Analytical Services Laboratory which has very strongly supported AWMC evolving into a world-leading centre in water research. Importantly, Beatrice was also instrumental in creating and maintaining a safe work culture and environment in AWMC laboratories.

To top off an extraordinary year, I was both humbled and excited to be appointed a Member of The Order of Australia on Australia Day, 2019. The Order was awarded in recognition of service to higher education and science in the field of urban water management. I am very proud of our team successes over the past year. My own achievements over the years have been made possible with the strong support of the inspirational people around me. I am looking forward to another year of exciting, collaborative research.

Director Zhiguo Yuan AM