Dr Rebecca Mcquillan
Post doctoral researcher
Rebecca’s current research is focused on developing fertilizer coatings in Theme 1 that will minimize the rapid loss of nutrients into water systems when applied in agricultural settings. One of the most crucial nutrients in manufactured fertilizers, nitrogen, is commonly applied in the form of urea due to its high nitrogen content. However, the increased water solubility of urea results in large quantities of leaching and losses into the environment during rain and irrigation events. These losses have several negative environmental impacts such as the contamination of groundwaters and eutrophication of local ecosystems; such losses also result in poor crop uptake and subsequent economic loss. Rebecca is currently looking at developing fertilizer coatings that will reduce the loss of nutrients during wet weather events, whilst also delivering nutrients at a controlled and targeted rate to increase the efficiency of crop uptake. Through this, both environmental impact and nitrogen utilization efficiency will be improved.
Rebecca’s research background includes a multi-disciplinary range or project themes that all operate within the field of increased sustainable practices. This includes her PhD, completed at the University of Melbourne, that was aimed at developing novel technologies that could assist in the clean-up of petroleum fuel spills in remote regions such as the Antarctic. Following this, her passions for sustainable change have led her to additional environmentally friendly research works such as maximizing the efficiency of carbon dioxide separation and capture processes, and quantifying the environmental risks associated with contaminated soils. She has previous experience and successful working collaborations with industrial partners such as the Australian Antarctic Division and the Defense Science and Technology Group.