Investing in the future of soil research

| Posted Aug 05,2021

PhD student Cameron Copeland from Southern Cross University with Josh Rust from NSW DPI

An important feature of all CRCs is building capacity for the future, and the Soil CRC is no different. The Soil CRC has now exceeded its PhD student goal, with the latest approval of six PhD scholarships taking it to 50 PhD students supported through the CRC.

This is a significant step towards reaching the target of 40 PhD completions by the end of the CRC.

But these are not just numbers. Each student represents a sign of the serious investment that the Soil CRC is making in the future of soil research. A PhD through the Soil CRC provides a rewarding opportunity to contribute to the health, sustainability and profitability of soils in Australia, and the communities that depend upon them.

Students who complete their PhD through the Soil CRC are part of a cohort that are supported with training, information, resources and networking opportunities.

Soil CRC Student Coordinator Dr Cassandra Wardle has developed an online hub for the students to connect virtually.

“We launched the Soil CRC PhD Hub in mid-2020, and we continue to expand this digital community and resource centre to function as a one-stop-shop. Peer connections foster a positive PhD experience, and the Soil CRC PhD Hub allows our students to move beyond their local peer groups and connect with the broader cohort of Soil CRC PhD students,” she says.

Students agree, finding great value in the Soil CRC PhD program. Jaye Hill, a PhD student from the University of Southern Queensland, says the collaboration in the CRC is vital.

“I really love the cooperative aspects of working with the Soil CRC. Our industry partners in Burdekin have been sending me down soil samples, because the travel restrictions mean I can’t always get up there.”  

Sepi Abbasi, a PhD student from the University of Newcastle, has benefited from the training.  

“There has been some great training programs and support. I found the media and social media training very helpful,” she says.

Xiangyu Liu, PhD student from Griffith University, says he has gained a great deal from the networking opportunities.

“Being part of the Soil CRC has provided me with a platform to communicate with other scientists and industries which granted me a chance to study a really interesting research topic.”

The PhD students are each enrolled through one of the eight Soil CRC participant universities with collaborations and co-supervision with other CRC participants. The industry exposure that they get through these arrangements will ensure that they are well placed to make a valuable contribution to soil research for decades to come.