What lies within garners water researcher top nod

Developing a new way to know exactly what’s in the water we use and consume and how it can potentially affect us and the environment has garnered a Griffith researcher with a top honour.  

The Australian’s Research leaders list, based on big data analysis of up-to-date publicly available information, named Dr Peta Neale from Griffith’s Australian Rivers Institute as one of the up-and-coming names in science research.   

Dr Neale’s impressive research output within a decade of completing her PhD has largely involved examining the chemicals in water and the ways that they can be tested.   

“I’m surprised by the recognition but very honoured,” Dr Neale said.  

“There are countless chemicals in the aquatic environment, such as pesticides and pharmaceuticals, and they can act together as mixtures” 

“This type of cumulative effect can potentially have adverse effects. While the chemical concentrations we’re finding in surface water are often low,we can often detect an effect with cell-based bioassays and we can use these as tools to monitor water quality.” 

Dr Neale works closely with Associate Professor Frederic Leusch, who is also from the Australian Rivers Institute, and works alongside a team of researchers in the ARI-TOX group, which primarily looks at water and contaminants across a variety of research topics, such as their effect on marinemegafauna for example.  

“My research work has looked at combining chemical analysis with bioassays to look at how much of the effect in water can be explained by chemicals we detect” Dr Neale said.   

“In some cases most of the effect can be explained by detected chemicals, but in many other cases we can only explain a small fraction of the effect as more chemicals than we detect contribute. This is why it is important to use bioassays alongside chemical analysis for water quality monitoring” 

Griffith was ranked seventh in Australia for its representation across 250 individual fields of research.  

Confirming Griffith’s rising research strength, the university demonstrates national leadership in 10 research fields and has 11 researchers who are leaders in their respective fields.