UOW graduate's PhD in 'cow poo'

Rich reward: Julian Fyfe with parents Iain and Crissy at the University of Wollongong's mid-year graduation ceremony. Picture: ROBERT PEET

Rich reward: Julian Fyfe with parents Iain and Crissy at the University of Wollongong's mid-year graduation ceremony. Picture: ROBERT PEET

Julian Fyfe jokes that he now has a PhD in cow poo, but his work could actually make dairy farming a little sweeter.

The 38-year-old graduated from the University of Wollongong on Wednesday with a doctorate in environmental engineering, with his research aiming to help dairy farms deal more efficiently with the copious amounts of nutrient-rich waste they produce.

"Fundamentally my research is about trying to make production a bit more efficient in terms of cycling nutrients through the waste system and returning it back to land," he said.

It is the 38-year-old's "third or fourth" degree, having first embarked on university study in 1994 pursuing an arts and engineering double degree, followed by his masters and now a PhD.

Mr Fyfe first became interested in his research field while working on organic farms in Europe, where he met an environmental engineer specialising in waste management on farms.

A father of two young children, Mr Fyfe said balancing long-term study and family life had been a tough task, and there were times when he almost gave up his studies.

But with support from partner Raen Fraser, he stuck it out and managed to reach his academic goals.

"Getting through a PhD is bloody-mindedness, the persistence pays off," he said.

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