Samantha Grover

A veski inspiring women career recovery grant is awarded to Dr Samantha Grover, a Lecturer in Environmental Science at RMIT University.

A focus on local and international collaborations

As a soil scientist, Dr Grover applies techniques from soil physics, soil chemistry and soil microbiology with micrometeorology to explore the soil-plant-atmosphere continuum. Dr Grover leads RMIT’s Soil-Atmosphere-Anthroposphere Laboratory, exploring the interconnections between food, climate change and people. The laboratory collaborates with farmers, non-profits, industry, government and other researchers around the world to more sustainably manage landscapes, with a focus on high carbon systems such as peatlands, regenerative agriculture and composting.

COVID-19 restrictions created significant additional personal and professional demands on Dr Grover. Alongside increased domestic responsibilities she had to adapt to additional online teaching whilst juggling restricted laboratory access and limited ability to visit research sites.

Funding from veski will support Dr Grover to lay the foundations for a future Australian Research Council (ARC) Industrial Transformation Training Hub in Victoria with a focus on soil health and soil carbon as both a driver and an indicator of positive environmental change. The ARC’s Industrial Transformation Research Program currently prioritises Food and Agribusiness. Australia’s new National Research Priorities include Soil, Water and Food and Environmental Change and Health. The research expertise and capacity building that this Award will support will create impact for Victoria over the next decade.

In the shorter term the veski grant will support key projects. The first focuses on developing an international collaborative process for real world reimagining of ‘nature’ (as a social construct) and will involve three RMIT postdoctoral fellows as well as eight early career researchers in Indonesia. The second project is a collaboration with Parks Victoria and considers invasive species management in Victoria’s National Parks, quantifying impacts on soils and greenhouse gases to inform conservation programs.

A key contributor to land management policy in Australia and New Zealand

Dr Grover completed undergraduate science studies at the University of Melbourne and doctoral studies at La Trobe University. She teaches in Environmental Science and undertakes a wide range of public engagements as a Superstar of STEM.

Dr Grover’s soil carbon and greenhouse gas research has been fundamental in land management policy within Australia and New Zealand. Her work also informs the Savanna Methodology of the Carbon Farming Initiative, the National Recovery Action Plan for Sphagnum Bogs and Associated Fens, and New Zealand’s emission calculations under the Kyoto Protocol, as well as contributing to Australia’s National Soil Strategy.

As President of the Victorian branch of Soil Science Australia, Dr Grover prioritises being a female role model. She has inspired younger women with an interest in how science informs policy to collaborate on submissions to the Victorian Government on Strategic Agricultural Land; Greenwedges and Agricultural Land; and Conservation Advice for the Giant Gippsland Earthworm. Dr Grover has instigated capacity building around gender and equity within her 100-member research team. She has also supported Australian and Indonesian women and men within the team to recognise unconscious bias and change practices to enhance equity of opportunity.