Award for Dana Cordell

August 29, 2012 by  
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Breakthrough research on managing global phosphorus supplies has won Dr Dana Cordell and Professor Stuart White from  Sydney’s UTS’s Institute for Sustainable Futures the environmental research award in the 2012 Australian Museum’s Eureka Prizes.

Minister Robyn Parker, Professor Stuart White and Dr Dana Cordell

Until recently the leakage of phosphorus at all stages of the food production cycle was occurring with little fanfare and phosphorus was more often than not labelled a pollutant for its effects on our waterways. However, it’s essential for food production, human nutrition and life itself, but the world is rapidly moving towards a critical shortage of phosphorus.

Research led by Dr Cordell and Professor White has sparked an international effort to raise awareness and foster sustainable management of this non-renewable resource, which forms the basis of the global fertiliser industry.

Their work predicts that without action and at current rates the world will have consumed its best supplies of phosphorus in as soon as 20 years.

To raise awareness of this issue and ongoing research efforts Institute for Sustainable Futures scientists and other colleagues around the world have created an international network, the Global Phosphorus Research Initiative (GPRI).

The standard of the group’s science and urgency of their concerns recently prompted Nobel Prize laureate Professor Paul Crutzen, who first drew the world’s attention to ozone depletion, to become the GPRI’s first ambassador.

For their breakthrough work identifying phosphorus scarcity, tracking its life cycle and developing global and regional scenarios for its sustainable production and consumption, they were awarded the 2012 NSW Office of Environment and Heritage Eureka Prize for Environmental Research.

This builds on a growing body of recognition: the pair won the 2011 Mercedes Benz Australian Environment Research award for this work while Professor White, Director of ISF, was named joint recipient of the Research Leadership prize in the 2011 UTS Vice-Chancellor’s Awards for Research Excellence.

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