Entry for:2018 Queensland Women in STEM Prize
1. Please provide a short summary of your research, project or technology.
I am an applied chemist working to understand the influence of chemical pollution on the Great Barrier Reef. Human activity from agriculture, industry and mining can cause pollutants to wash off the land and into the ocean. This pollution affects water quality and marine life, including the iconic green sea turtle. My research developed methods to monitor chemical pollution in turtle blood, where we found traces of human heart medication and industrial chemicals (e.g. glue). We also found signs of inflammation and liver dysfunction in the turtles. Working with partner organisations across Queensland, this research will deliver social, environmental and economic benefits to Queensland. By monitoring water quality and turtle health, we can work with industry to manage environmental pollution, and protect the World Heritage-listed Great Barrier Reef, which contributes $4 billion per year and 33,000 jobs to the Queensland economy.
Dr Heffernan completed her honours program in applied chemistry at the University of Technology Sydney before pursuing a PhD in chemistry at The University of Queensland, Australia. Her research co...