> A closer look
Rachael Scott is a Masters Research candidate studying a novel community-led reef management initiative on the Great Barrier Reef. During the COVID-19 pandemic, when Queensland tourism operators were heavily impacted by border closures she worked on a collaborative project, uniting reef science with the tourism industry. Since 2018, the Coral Nurture Program, a globally unique research-tourism partnership between UTS and a consortium of tour operators has planted >70,000 corals across 27 reef sites from Cairns to Port Douglas to rehabilitate high-value tourism sites on the Great Barrier Reef. With the corals growing successfully, the next challenge is scaling up activity to expand the scope and impact of the project. Through the Program, a novel low-cost planting device, called the Coralclipâ was developed by one of the Program’s tourism partners to increase the efficiency of planting by up to ten-fold compared to previous methods. This is where Rachael’s work comes in.
Rachael’s own research is examining the cost-effectiveness of planting corals with the Coralclipâ through the Coral Nurture Program science-tourism model. Her research, with its important ecological and socioeconomic perspective, will provide critical information for reef mangers and investors to understand the cost-benefits of scaling community-led restoration practices. In prior coral planting initiatives in various parts of the world, coral fragments have been attached to the reef using glues or cement, a time-consuming and impactful process. Using the Coralclipâ improves the speed and cost-effectiveness of coral planting significantly, enabling greater scale. Importantly, the Coral Nurture Program builds capacity for key reef stakeholders to steward their reef sites and respond to impacts – ultimately helping to improve the resilience of reef tourism businesses.
Rachael’s research is based within the UTS Climate Change Cluster (C3) within the Faculty of Science at UTS. The Climate Change Cluster is a leading research institute in climate mitigation and adaption and ocean sciences with a particular research strength in algae biotechnology. Within C3 is the Deep Green Biotech Hub, an industry innovation hub that supports small businesses to translate algae research beyond the lab to develop sustainable, algae-based products for use in a variety of industries from agriculture, food, cosmetics, pharmaceuticals and alternate materials.
In addition to her own research with C3, Rachael works as an Engagement and Project Coordinator for the Deep Green Biotech Hub. Her role involves supporting and engaging with small businesses and startups working in sustainability, collaborating with a small team to deliver internal and external high-impact events, and collaborating with internal and external partners to champion the innovation ecosystem in NSW.
Rachael is a talented research in her own right, and in addition has a demonstrated history of working in science and sustainability engagement, environmental education and science communication. To each of her roles, she brings an endless enthusiasm, an openness and desire to learn from and help others, and a creative and critical mind.