SOUTHERN Cross University researcher James Sippo has made it his mission to help save the world's biggest structure made by living organisms - the Great Barrier Reef.
The 30-year-old environmental science honours student has spent hundreds of hours studying how mangrove greenhouse gases, notably carbon dioxide, methane and nitrous oxide, affect the reef.
"Growing up in Cairns, I've always been interested in marine environments," Mr Sippo said.
"I've been focusing on the complex chemistry of mangroves and the reef to investigate issues such as ocean acidification."
The Lismore resident's painstaking research has been difficult, but Mr Sippo has proven himself a strong scientific communicator, and subsequently a finalist in the Great Barrier Reef Foundation's Bommies Award.
The award, which will be announced on February 17, is aimed at young researchers who possess strong science communication skills and can act as future ambassadors for the reef.
Mr Sippo submitted a three-minute video titled 'Are mangroves a sink or source of greenhouse gases to the coastal ocean?', which has also been entered in the Facebook-based People's Choice Bommies Award.
"The aim of the Bommies is to bridge the gap between science and the general public," he said.
"It's such a beautiful environment, the reef, and studying it is very competitive."
Mr Sippo said he would love to work for a CSIRO marine research division, or pursue a similar role, in his future.
First and second place in the award will receive $5000 and $3000 respectively, while the People's Choice winner will get $2000.
Southern Cross University's Vicki Martin, from Bangalow, and Elisabeth Deschaseaux, from Byron Bay, are also among the 11 finalists.
Visit http://www.facebook.com/BommiesbyGBRF to see the video submissions, which you can vote for by hitting the 'like' button.