Fulbright Scholars to Advance Coral Reef and Groundwater Studies

Andrew Pomeroy and Simon Jankowski, UWA

A postgraduate hydrogeology student and a postdoctoral coral reef researcher from The University of Western Australia have received prestigious Fulbright Scholarships for 2017.

They will travel to the United States to advance their fields globally and join an elite worldwide group that includes Nobel Laureates and Pulitzer Prize winners.

Andrew Pomeroy, who works as a coastal oceanographer, engineer and postdoctoral researcher in coral reef studies at UWA’s Oceans Institute, has been awarded a Fulbright Postdoctoral Scholarship.

Dr Pomeroy will work with researchers at the Pacific Coastal and Marine Science Center of the US Geological Survey in Santa Cruz to understand the dynamics of sediment transport in coral reefs.

Elevated sediment volumes are the dominant local stressor to coral reef ecosystems around the globe, which may be affected by anthropogenic activities, differences in coral reef shape and size and the prevalent waves and currents. His project aims to develop quantitative methods to estimate baseline sediment volumes.

“Understanding these baselines is fundamental to distinguish the contribution of natural processes to the volume of sediment in reefs, which will inform management decisions, as well as enable targeted interventions to better protect coral reef eco-systems,” Dr Pomeroy said.

Simon Jankowski, a Masters of Hydrogeology student at UWA, has been awarded a Fulbright Postgraduate Scholarship to carry out research at Stanford University’s Centre for Groundwater Evaluation and Management in the School of Earth, Energy and Environmental Sciences.

Mr Jankowski’s research will focus on the development of new geophysical and remote sensing imaging techniques to support sustainable groundwater management in California’s Central Valley, a $20 billion agricultural precinct reliant on groundwater irrigation during periods of drought.

“NASA’s GRACE satellite mission has estimated that one-third of the planet’s largest aquifers are being rapidly depleted and this is only set to intensify with the impacts of climate change and population pressure,” he said.

Mr Jankowski will use his findings to inform comparable Australian systems and seek to apply his research internationally – specifically in developing nations in order to encourage sustainable water management practices.

“It’s hoped that my research will contribute to more effective water resource management strategies that can be applied in Australia and within the world’s most vulnerable climatic regions,” he said.

Founded in 1946 by US Senator J William Fulbright, Fulbright Scholarships promote research collaboration and cultural exchange to foster understanding between the United States and other nations.

By Jess Reid, University of Western Australia
Originally published on UWA News