I study the effectiveness of engineered vegetated systems, like green roofs, street trees and raingardens in reducing the volume of polluted stormwater entering waterways in urban areas.
My background is in plant ecophysiology, studying nutrient uptake mechanisms and drought tolerance in vegetation far from the city: at restored mine-sites and eucalypt plantations. Harsh urban environments provide a fantastic opportunity for plant ecophysiologists to contribute to the design of novel vegetated systems by finding species from a range of habitats which can cope with extremes in resource availability.
My most recent research is split between green roof and street tree projects.
In our green roof projects, we run glasshouse experiments to identify species with the potential for high rates of water use, but which are also drought tolerant. We also run large-scale rainfall-runoff simulation experiments. I've most recently integrated the results from our glasshouse experiments into a green roof water balance model, using R. We hope to attract funding support to convert this model into a web-based application which architects and designers can use to select the best combination of substrate type, substrate depth and plant species to maximise stormwater capture and minimise the incidence of drought stress.
Our street tree work is based in the City of Monash and looks to quantify the benefits of retrofitted infiltration trenches on stormwater runoff and tree water stress.
Species traits, substrates and stormwater grates: improving the health of urban trees by using polluted stormwater as a resource (LP140100885) Researchers:
Stephen Livesley, Tim Fletcher, Stefan Arndt, Chris Szota Funding Period:
2015-2017 Funding Bodies:
Australian Research Council, Melbourne Water, City West Water, Nursery and Gardens Industry Australia Funding Received:
Predictive relationships to assist fertiliser use decision-making in eucalypt plantations (PNC304-1213) Researchers:
Chris Szota, Peter Hopmans, Tom Baker, Stephen Elms Funding Period:
2012-2014 Funding Bodies:
Forests and Wood Products Australia Funding Received:
(A) Soil moisture monitoring systems for urban soils and (B) Optimising saline biofilter performance through plant selection Researchers:
Chris Szota, Stephen Livesley, Tim Fletcher Funding Period:
2013-2014 Funding Bodies:
Melbourne Water, City of Melbourne Funding Received:
Education and training
The University of Western Australia 2010
The University of Western Australia 2001
Available for supervision
I am available for supervision for PhD, Masters research and honours projects. Our most recent ARC Linkage grant presents several project opportunities for students, ranging from field monitoring and instrumentation of street tree systems to glasshouse-based experiments searching for suitable physiological traits.
Carola Pritzkow (2015 - )
Zheng Zhang (2015 - )
Jasmine Thom (2016 - )
Vaughn Grey (2015 - )
Masters Research Project Supervision:
Janine Kuehlich (Project A; SEM 1, 2015)
Margaret McCarthy (Project B; SEM2, 2015 - SEM1, 2016)
Jennifer Robertson (Project B; SEM1, 2016 - SEM2, 2016)