Issue 17
Monday, 26 September 2016
Charles Darwin University
Director of StudyNT Ms Rachael Shanahan, Dr Paul Lawton, PhD candidate Rhiannon Moore and Natasha Fyles MLA
Director of StudyNT Ms Rachael Shanahan, Dr Paul Lawton, PhD candidate Rhiannon Moore and Natasha Fyles MLA

Croc skin research wins 3MT comp

By Leanne Miles

A student researching ways to improve the skin quality of saltwater crocodiles for use in the leather industry has won this year’s Charles Darwin University Three Minute Thesis Competition for her presentation “The Blemished and the Beautiful”.

School of Psychological and Clinical Studies PhD candidate Rhiannon Moore said she aimed to provide an understanding of the composition of crocodile blemishes to improve skin quality and ensure sustainability of the Australian industry.

“Farming of the Australian saltwater crocodile (Crocodylus porosus) has become a highly valued, sought-after commodity within the high-end fashion industry,” Rhiannon said.

“Blemishes on the skin are not desired or accepted by the buyer, causing the skin to be down-graded, resulting in loss of income for the farmer.”

By improving knowledge on the complex science behind the skin’s reaction to the leather production process, Rhiannon said she hoped to help improve the overall skin quality to ensure profitability for the farmer.

“Leather is produced by a multi-stage chemical and physical process that removes all skin components except collagen,” she said.

“Using histology and electron microscopy, we are exploring the structural changes of collagen bundles during the tanning process to try to determine how blemishes are modified.”

The Three Minute Thesis Competition celebrates the research of PhD candidates, and cultivates their academic, presentation and research communication skills.

As the winner of the CDU final, Rhiannon received a $1500 research grant and will represent the Northern Territory at the Asia Pacific final to be held at the University of Queensland on Friday, to compete for a share of research grants valued at $8000.

Research Institute for the Environment and Livelihoods PhD candidate Kamal Melvani won Runner Up and the People’s Choice prize for her presentation entitled “Valuing forest gardens in Sri Lanka”. Kamal received $1000 worth of research grants.