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Dr Tom Creswell

Dr Tom Cresswell

Isotope Ecologist

Role at ANSTO

Tom is an environmental research scientist with a passion for understanding how humans impact our environment.  He studies how pollution interacts with living organisms in freshwaters through to coastal areas.  Tom’s position at ANSTO allows him to use nuclear techniques (radioisotope tracers) to very precisely study how quickly pollutants get into a living organism, where it goes within the tissues and then how quickly they are removed from the tissues if the source of pollution is removed or the animal moves to cleaner waters.  This helps us understand what kind of effect the pollution will have on the organism so that we can better manage our precious aquatic ecosystems.  Tom is currently working with the offshore petroleum industry to assist in providing a scientific basis for their decommissioning planning.

He has also been developing nuclear techniques to improve agricultural fertilisers.  Tracing how much nutrient a plant takes up through its roots or leaves is complicated, and many traditional techniques fail as the fertiliser nutrients get swamped by the existing nutrients in the plant.  By using nuclear techniques, we can accurately trace where the fertiliser goes in the plant and how quickly it moves.  This allows us to develop new fertilisers that are more efficient at delivering essential nutrients to the plant while minimising the impact on the environment from over fertilising.

ORICID: 0000-0002-5320-7553

Expertise

  • Ecotoxicology, Aquatic Ecosystems, Radioisotope, Trace Metals, Radiotracers
  • Use of radiotracers to determine kinetics of element/nutrient bioaccumulation from a range of sources
  • Development of live-animal radiotracer methodology
  • Advanced  imaging techniques of biological tissues  (PSL autoradiography, Accelerator Micro PIXE, Synchrotron XFM)
  • ICP-AES, ICP-MS, Gamma Spectrometry
  • Student supervision and mentoring
  • Extensive Australian and international fieldwork 
  • Science communication and community engagement

Qualifications & Achievements

  • PhD Applied Sciences, RMIT University and CSIRO Land and Water, Australia (2013) 
  • MSc Applied Marine Science (Distinction), University of Plymouth, United Kingdom (2005)
  • BSc (Hons 1) Ocean Science, University of Plymouth, United Kingdom (2003)
  • 2016 – University of Wollongong/ANSTO Collaborative Seed Project Grant of AUD$6,000. Study title: Naturally occurring radioactive materials in the ocean: radiological and ecotoxicological effects on benthic marine organisms.
  • 2013-2016 – ANSTO co-investigator of seven successful Australian Institute of Nuclear Science and Engineering (AINSE) research awards totalling AUD$68,995.
  • 2011 – AINSE Research Award for 2011. AUD$14,750 to conduct radiotracer work in collaboration with RMIT University, CSIRO Land and Water and ANSTO Environment as part of PhD research.
  • 2009 – Endeavour International Postgraduate Research Scholarship (IPRS) to conduct PhD
  • Current supervisor for 5 PhD students
  • Supervisor for 4 completed PhD and 3 completed Hons. students
  • Career mentor for RMIT and RACI Career Mentor Programs

Committees, Memberships & Affiliations

  • Board member (Chemical Sciences Cluster Representative) of Science and Technology Australia (STA), 2018-present
  • Board member (Vice President) of Society of Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry – Australasia (SETAC-AU).  Role includes engaging early career researchers through the development and administration of $30k p/a of prizes and awards for the society, Sep 2015-present
  • Board member (Secretary) of the South Pacific Environmental Radioactivity Association (SPERA), Sep 2016-present
  • Member, International Union of Radioecology (IUR), Jan 2015-present
  • Affiliate Researcher, CSIRO, Jun 2015-present
  • Research Fellow, The University of Melbourne, Mar 2018-present