Auxilium Kick-Starter Prize Winners Announced

Dr Amanda Pettersen and Dr Steph Gardner to be awarded grant funding for their innovative marine research projects

The Auxilium Foundation and SIMS are excited to announce that Dr Amanda Pettersen and Dr Steph Gardner have been awarded grant funding from the Auxilium Kick-Starter Prize, generously established by Auxilium Foundation Founder John Preston. The Kick- Starter Prize provides a wonderful opportunity for these early-career researchers to support their pilot projects, helping them to compete for future competitive grant funding and help shape the future of marine science in Australia.


Dr Amanda Pettersen is a research associate at SIMS and UNSW who’s project ‘Future-proofing Sydney’s underwater forests’ aims to deliver crucial research on the thermal physiology of kelp species and populations throughout the life cycle. The Kick-Starter funding will allow her to form the pilot study which will characterise variation in thermal physiology, quantify the vulnerability of kelp species and populations in Sydney, and predict shifts in the distribution of seaweeds based on their thermal niche.

Dr Steph Gardner is a research associate at UNSW, and her innovative project ‘Quantifying the contribution of benthic invertebrates to global nitrous oxide production” aims to uncover a previously unknown source of nitrious oxide, commonly known as laughing gas, which is a potent greenhouse gas contributing to climate change (300 times the atmospheric heat-trapping power of carbon dioxide!).  Dr Gardner’s work has shown that the marine invertebrates which produce N20 have significantly increased production rates with higher temperatures, and this funding will allow her to investigate other sources of nitrous oxide, and for the first time quantify their contribution to coastal greenhouse gas budgets.

The Auxilium Foundation is focused on providing financial and mentorship support for projects which can deliver an environmental impact for a fairer and more durable society. 100% of Auxilium’s funds are directed to helping the environment with a strong skew to aiding our ocean’s health.  John explains, “Auxilium’s aim is to find ways to support people and businesses to help fix our ocean’s problems. One way to do this, is to encourage and support our talented marine scientists to stay within the industry, so that they can conduct research to find solutions to improve our ocean’s sustainability.”