Friday, 29 April 2016

ACIAR project leader announced as Australia’s ASPIRE award nominee

Congratulations to Associate Professor Lee Baumgartner, an ACIAR project leader, on his nomination for the prestigious 2016 APEC science prize for innovation, research and education (ASPIRE) Award. Dr Baumgartner supervises a series of ACIAR-funded fish way projects in Laos and has won the nomination for his work on food security and fisheries in developing nations. The recognition is due to the ground-breaking work in conjunction with Lao scientists in designing and implanting effective fish passage solutions to increase fisheries production, household income, food security and biodiversity.

From left: Professor Warren Bebbington, Vice Chancellor, University of Adelaide; Professor Bob Vincent FAA, University of Adelaide.; Matt Murray, Economic Counsellor, Embassy of the United States of America; Australian nominee Associate Professor Lee Baumgartner, Charles Sturt University; and Christopher Pyne MP, Minister for Industry, Innovation and Science. Photo: T. Edwards, Department of Industry, Innovation and Science.

Dr Baumgartner is a Freshwater Fish Ecologist. His research in Australia has been in several broad areas, including fish passage and fish migration, dietary interactions among native fish species, the impact of human disturbance on aquatic ecosystems and, more recently, the effectiveness of native fish stocking.

He has been working with ACIAR on a fisheries project in the Mekong region that builds on research in the Murray-Darling and the Mekong (and elsewhere), and is investigating the impact of irrigation structures on movement of fish between wetlands and rivers. The projects are investigating seasonality of downstream and upstream migration, fishway design and flow requirements to facilitate movement past barriers, and the reproductive ecology of Mekong species. Research is also being conducted on fishing patterns of local communities, and the ecological and social benefits which accrue from fishways. Expected outcomes of the project include farming communities and management authorities having increased awareness of fish welfare issues, adopting use of fish-friendly structures, and understanding the economic, social and environmental benefits of restoring a holistic approach to fish passage.   

His latest project, which started in early 2016, is focusing on quantifying biophysical and community impacts of improved fish passage in Lao PDR.

The ASPIRE prize recognises young scientists from APEC economies who have demonstrated a commitment to both excellence in scientific research as evidenced by scholarly publication, cooperation with scientists from other APEC member economies, and contribution of technologies to food security. Each member economy is invited to nominate one scientist under the age of 40 to be considered for each year's prize. The call for applications for the ASPIRE prize in Australia was administered by the Australian Academy of Science.

Having won the Australian section of the ASPIRE Award, Lee will travel to Peru in August this year, as the Australian nomination for the regional APEC Award. Bring home the gold, Lee!

By Laura Carew, Communications and Stakeholder Engagement, ACIAR

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