PhD Student Profile

Daven Gopalan

Southern Cross University

My research studies the mechanism of redox in the soil rhizosphere and how it impacts phosphorus bioavailability in plants. Phosphorus deficiency is commonly observed in Australian farming soils consisting of ferrosols, dermosols and vertosols. This is due to the low mobilisation of phosphorus in soil as it is usually fixed and ‘trapped’ in soil minerals.

This significantly impacts farming efficiency for farmers as phosphorus is a key nutrient for crop growth. Redox mechanisms in soil are able to solubilise the soil minerals, mobilising the free phosphorus which increase its bioavailability.

My research studies these electrochemical techniques and aims to develop a model for redox in soil and optimise the redox conditions for increased phosphorus release and uptake for plants.

PhD Title: “Redox in the rhizosphere; a paradigm for phosphorus uptake in plants”

PhD start date: July 2020

Supervisors: Prof. Andrew Rose, Southern Cross University, Prof. Terry Rose, Southern Cross University, Dr. Lukas Van Zwieten, NSW Department of Primary Industries, Dr. Cassandra Schefe, AgriSci, Dr. Mick Rose, Southern Cross University.

What interested you about this research?
I am interested in the application of chemistry, specifically electrochemistry to aid soil management and practices. This research allows me to apply my interest in electrochemistry towards a real-world application in farming techniques to benefit the farmers.

What do you love about soil?
I appreciate the value of soil science and its significant impacts to society at large. I love researching the theory and applications of soil chemistry which has various mechanisms that dictate the behaviour and characteristic of soils.

What do you love about your PhD?
I value the significant potential benefits of my research to society, in particular farmers. The potential application of my research findings into developing technology that will improve soil efficiency is very motivating for me. Being able to have discussions and receive feedback from farmers and be able to structure my PhD to address the concerns is a special experience.

How will your PhD help to make a difference for farmers?
My research aims to improve phosphorus uptake by plants which leads to increased and efficient crop growth for farmers. My research uses redox mechanisms which are well known to occur in soils to improve phosphorus bioavailability. The knowledge gained by this research will allow farmers to apply techniques to improve soil efficiency for their crops.

What do you want to do when you finish your PhD? 
I would like to further my research in applying redox mechanisms in soil chemistry in various other soil environments. The goal would be to apply my research to benefit society, in particular for farmers to improve their overall crop production and sustainability. I am also very keen to eventually step into the field of academia where I am able to discuss and pass on the knowledge of my research.

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