CDU researchers successful at NT Research and Innovation Awards 

Associate Professor Keith Christian and Associate Professor Karen Gibb at the 2006 NT Research and Innovation Awards

CDU researchers were recognised for their outstanding work at the 2006 Northern Territory’s Research and Innovation Awards last week.

Dr Renkang Peng, Associate Professor Keith Christian and Associate Professor Karen Gibb in the School of Science and Primary Industries took out the Tropical Knowledge Research Award for their work on Green Ants in Pest Control project. The team has developed techniques that use green ants to control insect pests of cashews and mangos which will lead to benefits for the environment and human health.

Matt Brearly, a Faculty doctoral student from the NT Institute of Sport, won the New Generation Research and Innovation Award for his work on Thermal Strain in Athletes in the Tropics. Dr Paul Finn, in the School of Science and Primary Industries, is Matt’s doctoral supervisor.

The awards are a chance to reward the NT’s outstanding thinkers and problems solvers and an opportunity for finalists to meet people who are either engaged in research and innovation, or who support these activities as policy makers, investors or lobbyists to raise awareness about the talent and innovation in the NT.

There was an astonishing diversity in this year's finalists and in some categories the Board selected from up to 20 quality applications.

Karen Gibb, from the winning Green Ants in Pest Control project, said the enthusiasm, energy and pride in the room was clear and the tone was one of support and encouragement at the ceremony.

“I am delighted with the award, particularly because it acknowledges the fine work of Dr Renkang Peng who unfortunately could not be present because he was giving a workshop in Townsville on the use of green ants to control insect pests of nursery red cedar.

“The Mango Growers association were particularly pleased at having our project win the Tropical Research category because it raises awareness about the NT Horticultural industry and their efforts to support research that takes environmental issues seriously, in this case by reducing reliance on chemical pesticides.”

The team’s prize money will be used to support operating costs for further green ant research said Karen.

“We were also pleased to be able to formally acknowledge the support of growers who gave over significant tracts of their orchards for this research. These growers continue to use green ants in their orchards because they see improved profits through a greater yield of first class fruit and lower maintenance costs.

“While this award is professionally satisfying, it reinforces that research in the environmental sciences at Charles Darwin University is not only high quality, but by far the majority of our research outcomes have direct relevance in both the private and public sectors,” said Karen.