It's a chicken. Photo Matthew Newton / The Guardian
It's a chicken. Photo Matthew Newton / The Guardian Matthew Newton

Local farmers help Dr Stanley with study

A CQUNIVERSITY researcher has landed a $360,000 fellowship to study intestinal bacteria of chickens - but her research would not be successful without the support of local farmers.

Dr Dana Stanley is about to start a three-year study of next generation probiotic development in chickens with a view to move onto other agricultural animals including cattle, pigs and sheep.

"The latest thing in the last few years has been identifying bacteria as the biggest organ in the human body," Dr Stanley said.

"We want to know how to help absorb nutrients and food and gain more weight and be healthier in agricultural animals including sheep, pigs and cattle."

She said the region's farmers continually support agricultural research at CQUniversity and collaborated closely with researchers.

"We got into actual farms and they let use their facilities.

"We have never met a farmer in the CQ region that says no to taking samples or participating," she said.

"Farmers are generally a group of people who are very supportive of researchers and when you start talking to them they know about that stuff.

"They will know old wives tales and have hands-on experience so we can go to them and talk to them as equals."

Dr Stanley said research in farming animals often led to discoveries in the human body.

"Most things that apply in animals are later confirmed in humans," she said.

"You never start research in humans, you always start in animals."

Dr Stanley said the four Australian Research Council fellowships were awarded to CQUni researchers.

Dr Charli Sargent, Associate Professor Gregory Roach and Professor Drew Dawson were granted $310,000 over four years to study while Dr Anjum Naweed will seek to develop a train driving risk model with a successful competitive bid for $373,536 over three years.

Professor Brijesh Verma was awarded $275,000 to help computers classify what they see at a glance, which has many real-world applications such as document analysis, robotics and medical diagnosis.

CQUni was awarded a total of $1.3million in research grants.

"We are a small regional university and for us to get four is a big achievement," Dr Stanley said.

"These grants are a massive success and they are so competitive, awarded to the best in the country."

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