Our research is focused on understanding, protecting and enhancing the systems that enable life on Earth.
At Curtin’s School of Molecular and Life Sciences, we conduct research across agriculture and food science, chemistry and ecology. Our multidisciplinary experts are harnessing technology and data to optimise Australia’s agricultural production, future-proofing our food supply chains and formulating strategies to combat crop disease and improve soil health.
Our research is also playing a leading role in mine site restoration, developing practical ways to preserve the fragile ecosystems that sustain Australia’s diverse flora and fauna.
Crop management and disease prevention
The Centre for Crop and Disease Management is providing Australian farmers with solutions to tackle diseases of wheat, barley, canola and pulses. A co-supported initiative with the Grains Research and Development Corporation, the centre is reducing the economic impact of crop disease by preventing fungicide resistance, improving farming systems, and building disease resistance through breeding.
Digital agriculture technology
At Curtin’s Centre for Digital Agriculture, researchers are combining on-farm data and industry intelligence to develop digital technologies that will maximise productivity and profitability in agricultural production. From using AI and analytics to addressing the digital divide, we’re working to give Australia the edge in the competitive sustainable food industry.
Curtin University Malaysia has a strong research focus on digital innovation to improve the agriculture sector, through the development and/or application of algorithms, signal processing and AI; remote sensing and GIS; cloud computing and 5G/6G connectivity; and cybersecurity and digital watermarking. The research program is supported by the Malaysian government and the Sarawak Digital Economy Corporation, and will be further strengthened through the Curtin Malaysia Centre for Digital Innovation.
The research team has developed a new technology to quickly authenticate the quality and provenance of ground black pepper. Sarawak’s black pepper is a premium product, however it is often illicitly adulterated with cheaper substances. To address the industry problem, researchers have combined hyperspectral imaging with an image analyser and classifier that detects adulterants and determines the provenance of samples. Currently known as AgriSmartEye, the technology also has the potential to detect adulteration in other produce, including sago, vanilla and coffee.
eDNA and biomonitoring
Our researchers are unlocking the potential of eDNA to develop efficient, long-term strategies to restore degraded landscapes, increase biodiversity and safeguard against invasive species. Our eDNA analysis is transforming environmental assessment practices in the shipping, port management, oil and gas, and conservation industries.
Our food science and technology researchers are investigating how to improve the functional, nutritional and health qualities of food while meeting the demands of the global market. We’re partnering with industry to develop innovative solutions, including unlocking the proteins in lupin seeds, turning seed waste in diabetic treatment and using data to build resilience in our agrifood supply chains.
Enhancing conservation and marine resource management, researchers in Curtin’s Centre for Marine Science and Technology are using sonar and acoustic technology to survey seafloors, monitor ocean noise and determine the effects of underwater noise on marine animals.
Bioprocessing for commercialisation
At the Biovalley Pilot Plant at Curtin University Malaysia, several teams are conducting research in areas of bioprocessing. One area is using a supercritical fluid extraction technique for plant bio-products with nutraceutical properties. These include local native plants: dabai, gaharu and black pepper, as well as Omani frankincense resin – all which have potential for commercial production for use in biomedical, pharmaceutical, perfumery and cosmetic products. The focus of other industry projects at the plant range from safer fungicides to biodegradable polymers and biodiesel production.
Soil and landscape science
The Soil and Landscape Science group conducts theoretical, methodological and applied research to improve understanding of soil processes and the drivers of soil and landscape variability at different spatial and temporal scales. The group’s research aims to understand better, assess, and monitor soil functions, which help deliver ecosystem services. Current research interests are in soil carbon sequestration, soil health, the preservation of soil biodiversity, nutrient cycling and food production. The group’s strengths and capabilities are in soil sensing and spectroscopy, digital soil mapping and monitoring, and empirical, machine learning and mechanistic modelling for knowledge discovery and prediction at relevant spatial and temporal scales.
Sustainable water use
In a rapidly drying climate, it’s vital to secure the future of our water supply. The team at the Curtin Water Quality Research Centre is partnering with government and industry to manage and replenish our surface and groundwater reserves, inform legislative decision making and improve the ways we treat and recycle water. Our findings are influencing urban planning and design, ensuring that our built environment supports sustainable water use.
Professor Kingsley Dixon
Ecological restoration, Plant evolution and ecology, Mycology, Seed biology, Orchid biology
Professor Christine Erbe
Underwater acoustics, Modelling and field measurements, Marine mammal bioacoustics, Anthropogenic noise impact on marine ecosystems, Digital signal processing, Automatic signal detection and classification
Professor Euan Harvey
Ecological Impacts of Climate Change, Conservation and Biodiversity, Aquatic Ecosystem Studies and Stock Assessment, Fisheries Management
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