Science program for students a success

Whilst many University students use the summer university break to relax, four students from La Trobe University were successful in obtaining an Industry Cadetship with The Murray-Darling Freshwater Research Centre (MDFRC) or the Research Centre for Applied Alpine Ecology, located at various places in Victoria.

The focus of the program is for the students to gain valuable experience working with leading research staff from both Research Centers, and undertaking their own research project under supervision of research staff from La Trobe University.

Wodonga based cadet Matthew Brewer said “the best part about this project is working in a professional environment and really seeing the difference between University and the actual workplace, also giving an insight into conducting my own research which is the basis for future Honours and PhD”

Rosie Busuttil, Senior Administration Officer said that the program “provides students with a fantastic opportunity to engage with industry and undertake research with leading scientists in Australia. The students get real world experience in an industry they want to break into, which is beneficial for their personal and professional growth. The program has proved successful for both research centers and students, with further engagement either through a progression to Honours and PhD programs and potentially future employment.”

Dr Paul McInerney, one of Matthew’s supervisors stated, “Matthew’s project investigated floodplain microbial communities. Many plants rely on associations with other organisms, and mycorrhizal fungi associations are one common example. While Eucalyptus spp. are known to form mycorrhizal associations, there is little detailed information specific to River Redgums, an iconic inland Australian tree.’ This project will contribute to one of the Centre’s large Collaborative project, which is funded by Murray–Darling Basin Joint Governments.

Will Beck, the other MDFRC successful student, based at the Mildura laboratory, assisted in projects that monitored ecological responses in floodplain ecosystems to understand responses to disturbance regimes such as flooding and drying. Bianca Berto and Alex Blackburn-Smith are working with the Research Centre for Applied Alpine Ecology up in Falls Creek, examining current impacts of deer on threatened alpine plant communities, with a focus on EPBC listed plant species.

The cadet program is available to La Trobe University undergraduate students who are completing their second or third year of university and are interested in pursuing a career in aquatic ecology. For more information please go to:

The Murray-Darling Freshwater Research Centre (MDFRC) was established in 1986 and has become one of Australia’s leading sources of scientific advice on freshwater ecological systems. The MDFRC has a vision of: Healthy and productive aquatic ecosystems in the Murray-Darling Basin. The Murray-Darling Freshwater Research Centre is a Joint Venture between  La Trobe University and CSIRO