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APEC-Australia Women in Research
Fellowship 2023
Dr Chin Chin Too
Chin Chin Too.jpg

Home Economy: Malaysia

Host Institution: University of the Sunshine Coast


Project Title: Investigating unstudied microbial communities of K'gari (Fraser Island) Peat swamp forests (PSF)

Project Outline: Peat swamp forests (PSF) are unique habitats where carbon is sequestered due to exceptionally slow decomposition of plant detritus. They are major global carbon sinks and play a prominent role in mitigation of global warming. K'gari (Fraser Island), the largest sand island in the world, is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It has recently been discovered that organic matter has accumulated over

the past 15,000 years to form extensive peat deposits in K’gari. The peat mostly originates from the wire rush, Empodisma minus (family Restionaceae). These PSF are subject to frequent wildfires yet the peat itself is protected from burning by the high water-table and overlying Empodisma. These PSF are unique in that they recover quickly from fires. As microbes are key drivers for biogeochemical processes, we will investigate unstudied microbial communities of K'gari PSF using next-generation sequencing, and further explore their metabolic pathways in the carbon and nitrogen cycles. We also aim at characterizing new bacterial species from K’gari PSF using whole-genome sequencing.

Reasons for applying for fellowship: This fellowship enables me to collaborate with established Australian scientists to study microbial ecology in K'gari peatlands that have survived regular fires. Malaysian tropical peat swamp forests (TPSF) have been severely destructed from fires, which leads to serious economic loss. Therefore, better management and rehabilitation of Malaysian TPSF are required. As a Malaysian ecologist, I would like to contribute my knowledge and skills in the environmental sustainability to my home economy and help tackle the global issue of climate change.


Past Achievements:

  • Characterization of 17 new bacterial species from Antarctica (manuscript in preparation)

  • International research experiences from Belgium, Germany and Norway

  • Monash Strategic Large Grant (July 2016 – Nov 2018): RM 200,000

  • Monash Higher Degree Research Fellowship: Apr – Nov 2018

  • Monash Graduate Research Merit Scholarship: Oct 2014 – Mar 2018

Email Address:

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