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UC Professor takes out prestigious science award

Danielle Meddemmen

17 December 2020: The University of Canberra’s Professor Ross Thompson has been recognised for his outstanding contribution to Australian water science, receiving the Australian Freshwater Sciences Society’s (AFFS) Hilary Jolly Medal.

Director of the University’s Centre for Applied Water Science (CAWS) at the Institute for Applied Ecology (IAE), Professor Thompson was recognised for his profound research in freshwater ecology and management in Australia – particularly relating to the Murray-Darling Basin.

Professor Thompson said it was an honour to receive what is considered one of Australia’s most prestigious awards in limnology, after being nominated by several national and international colleagues.

“It’s an amazing feeling to receive this medal, and even better to know that your peers are the ones that made the nomination,” he said.

“I was particularly pleased those nominations were from people across different parts of my professional life, from PhD students to fellow researchers.”

The award also recognised Professor Thompson’s contributions to education and communication in the field, and to informing restoration of freshwater biodiversity and landscapes.

Professor Thompson said taking a collaborative approach within the ecology field could go a long way in achieving results.

“I haven’t tended to be a solo researcher, but have been willing to lead big collaborations to look at multi-faceted problems,” he said.

Over his career, Professor Thompson has had his work recognised both nationally and internationally and published more than 100 papers, 10 book chapters and 200 scientific reports.

Many of those research publications – five of which have been cited over 200 times – have had direct impacts on policy and management actions for Australian water sources.

His focus, however, remains in mentoring and supporting staff and students through the University.

“You live vicariously through the success of your students and junior staff. It’s the sense of wanting to leave something behind you when you retire,” he said.

“It’s not going to be the paper you wrote that leaves that legacy – it’s going to be the people you worked with along the way.”

Professor Thompson is the 34th recipient of the Hilary Jolly medal, which traces its beginnings to 1974.