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AWE Institute to drive agricultural and freshwater research

Charles Sturt University Acting Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Research) Professor Michael Friend

Charles Sturt University is set to establish the Agriculture, Water and Environment (AWE) Institute, a new hub driving research outcomes that optimise farming systems and enhance the health of freshwater ecosystems.

The AWE Institute will be opened in December 2021 and will employ more than 20 new research-only positions in rural health, cyber security and data science, as well as optimising farming systems and enhancing the health of freshwater ecosystems.

The institute will also be investing in dedicated business development support to enhance the university’s ability to secure funding for research projects.

Murray-Darling basin research projects

Charles Sturt University Vice-Chancellor Professor Renée Leon said research remains one of the university’s highest strategic priorities, and the AWE Institute will help bolster this leadership.

“Research is, and will always be, a vital part of what Charles Sturt University does,” she said.

“We will deliver our research goals — in agriculture, water and the environment, as well as rural health, cyber security and data science — under a bold new strategic vision to be carried out on our regional campuses and in our regional communities. 

“Establishing the AWE Institute is an important milestone for Charles Sturt University, one which will prove a cornerstone of the collaboration with our partners on research with impact.”

Charles Sturt University Acting Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Research) Professor Michael Friend said the AWE Institute will integrate important research projects across the Murray-Darling Basin.

“The AWE Institute will build on Charles Sturt University’s existing research strengths in agriculture, water and the environment to generate outcomes which enhance farming systems and freshwater ecosystems in the decades to come,” he said.

“The AWE Institute will centralise not only existing research but also the funding opportunities for future projects so that Charles Sturt University and its partners can produce more impactful research which benefits regional Australia.”

Next-generation Albury-Wodonga hub

Further to the establishment of the AWE Institute, researchers from Charles Sturt will also lead the $3.6 million Next Generation Water Engineering and River Management Hub.

Based in Albury-Wodonga, the Water Hub will develop solutions to Australia’s inland waterway challenges, including poor water quality and diminishing fish stocks.

Other AWE research and partnerships include the Southern NSW Drought Resilience Adoption and Innovation Hub at Charles Sturt University’s Wagga Wagga campus; the Global Digital Farm; and a planned expansion of the AgriSciences Research and Business Park.

The AWE Institute will be centred at Wagga Wagga, with ongoing and future research projects to be based there and at Albury-Wodonga.