Choose a job you love, and you will never have to work a day in your life
Jamie Ruprecht has spent the past 7 years dedicating himself as a project engineer at WRL. During this time he has become one of our most accomplished wetland restoration and field work experts, being a major contributor to the hugely successful Big Swamp restoration project.
Now Jamie has decided to hone in on his chosen field of expertise and focus his research by undertaking a PhD in floodplain and estuary management.
Why did you decide to undertake a PhD?
It felt like the next right move for me. A PhD is something I have always wanted to do and fortunately, I was offered a really good opportunity to continue working with our industry partners, while at the same time pursuing my doctoral degree, to address the most challenging aspects of my field. Even though I still have deadlines for my clients and my degree, I will have some more time and freedom to explore ideas that seem interesting to me and that project budgets wouldn’t have previously allowed for.
What is your PhD about?
I think at a fundamental level it is about water security – one of the greatest challenges facing not only our generation, but also future generations. One problem is related to the increasing amounts of nutrients that are being added to our waterways on a daily basis which is a major cause of water pollution in estuaries worldwide. Most of these environments affected by increasing human-induced nutrient loads are complex, dynamic and have multiple stressors to accommodate.
My goal is to combine a range of different assessment methods that can be used to understand how an estuary works. This will include assessments of surface water movement (levels, flows etc.), inorganic chemistry (sediments, metal loads etc.), and biological chemistry (key nutrients like carbon and nitrogen, and the genomics of different biological species such as phytoplankton). These assessments will involve a range of field sampling and laboratory analysis tasks. However, once I have this information and understand the different processes involved, I can model that into the future under different scenarios, such as a changing climate or sea level rise and see how the system changes.
How long will the study take?
I will be a full-time student working for three to four years exclusively on the same topic.
What are you hoping the outcomes will be?
Development and use of this modelling tool will allow collation, analysis and interpretation of surface water, water quality and ecological response data to permit evidence-based assessments of potential current and future environmental impacts of nutrients in estuaries. The project should set the standard in an emerging and innovative field and will be a ‘world first’ in Australia by providing a holistic approach for the entire estuary not just a localised zone, like near an outfall, and help establish broad zones of nutrient management across catchments. Further, once we understand the basic estuary processes, floodplain managers and planners can work on securing our water future.