Profile – Catherine Allan

News | Posted Apr 11,2019

Program 1 Leader: Associate Professor Catherine Allan

Catherine Allan is an Associate Professor in Environment, Sociology and Planning at Charles Sturt University and is the Program Leader for Program 1 – Investing in high performance soils at the Soil CRC.

In many ways, Catherine’s career and passions have been preparing her perfectly for the Program Leader position at the Soil CRC.

“I love soil because it is ubiquitous but also mysterious. It is fundamental to many of the things that we love – water quality, biodiversity, vegetation. It is also tangible and tactile.”

She began her professional career helping farmers reclaim drifting sand dunes in the South Australian Mallee, and has continued working with, and learning from, the people who manage the land. She has a lifelong love of agriculture, sustainable use of resources and social approaches, which she combines with a current focus on institutional management and systems thinking.

Working with remarkable people on valuable projects is what she loves most about her role at the Soil CRC.

“Being able to work with quality people, as well as working on something that is an important part of our livelihood, and is fundamental to our health and economy is the best thing about being part of the Soil CRC. Also, working on long term projects means we can really make a difference” she says.

Program 1 – Investing in high performance soils –  will deliver the Soil CRC an opportunity for integration of social, economic and biophysical research.

Catherine believes that Program 1 is a great example of the multidisciplinary approach of the Soil CRC.

“Previous soil research has focused only on soil. Two key differences that the Soil CRC has is that we include farmer groups and also that we recognise that soil science occurs within a social and economic framework. We engage experts in fields across all disciplines.

About Program 1

There are four completed projects and six current projects operating through Program 1. The key research areas of Program 1 are how to better facilitate the uptake of new ideas and new approaches and how to encourage participatory approaches and co-design of future practice (learning together). Program 1 will also investigate market-based instruments to capture and distribute financial returns to farmers for good soil stewardship and develop tools to better assess the adoptability and feasibility of new soil technologies and products.