$495,000 Commonwealth grant to aid vital SCU project
By ALEX EASTON
AFTER four years in the job, Nicole Rice remains at the start of a very long road. As Southern Cross University's senior scientific officer, Ms Rice is charged with collecting comprehensive samples of each of Australia's native plant species. So far, Ms Rice and her team have collected about 10,000 samples of only 80 of Australia's 25,000 plant species. However, the job is about to get a lot easier. Federal Roads and Regional Development Minister Warren Truss and Page MP Ian Causley yesterday announced the Federal Government would hand over $495,000 towards a new cataloging system aimed at streamlining the work of Ms Rice and other SCU scientists. Research Pro Vice Chancellor Peter Baverstock said the $1.2 million Laboratory Information Management System would let researchers barcode their samples in the same way a supermarket barcodes its products, making it easier to keep track of samples and of work being done. He said this would speed the pace of research across all SCU laboratories, allowing labs to take on more work, creating jobs and revenue for the university. Prof Baverstock estimated the new system would let the university employ another 33 research staff over the next three years. Within five years, the capacity of the labs would double and the extra staff would number closer to 70, he said.