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Research and Innovation

Environment and livelihoods supervisors

Higher Degree by Research

Our researchers find solutions to complex environmental problems, with science spanning meteorology, geology, biology, chemistry, hydrology and more.

We investigate key issues in biodiversity, sustainability, carbon capture, and emissions management—particularly in the context of tropical ecosystems and arid landscapes. We collaborate with government, environmental agencies, consultancies and others for results that make a difference to the world.

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Dr Christine Schlesinger

Associate Professor Christine Schlesinger

Associate Professor Schlesinger is a Senior Research Fellow and Senior Lecturer at the Faculty of Science and Technology. She is based at Charles Darwin University’s desert campus in Alice Springs.

Research interests:

  • desert ecosystems
  • contemporary threats to desert fauna.
Meet Christine
Dr. R Keller Kopf

Dr Keller Kopf

Research opportunities in:

  • river flows and trophic ecology of predators in tropical river-floodplains
  • effects of warming water temperature on fish and fisheries recruitment in northern Australia
Meet Keller
Dr Kamaljit K Sangha

Associate Professor Kamaljit K Sangha

Associate Professor Sangha has worked in the trans-disciplinary field of Ecological Economics since she finished her Master of Science (MSc) at Panjab University in India 20 years ago.

Kamaljit is available to supervise research students who are interested in the trans-disciplinary area of Ecological Economics—intersecting ecological, economic, and social sciences.

Meet Kamaljit
Hamis Campbell

Professor Hamish Campbell

Professor Hamish Campbell is a Professor of Spatial Science, leads The Movement and Landscape Ecology Lab, and is the Director of the North Australia Centre for Autonomous Systems.

Research interests:

  • spatiotemporal relationship between animals and their environment
  • movement and migration of birds, reptiles, mammals, and fish across Northern Australia.
Meet Hamish
Karen Gibb

Professor Karen Gibb

Professor Gibb is currently Director of the Research Institute for the Environment and Livelihoods and is an active researcher in the Environmental Chemistry and Microbiology Unit (ECMU) at CDU.

Research opportunity:

Professor Gibb and her team are interested in developing and evaluating efficient tools and protocols for mapping and monitoring environmental values relating to biodiversity and water.

Meet Karen
Sam Banks

Professor Sam Banks

Professor Banks is a molecular ecologist at Charles Darwin University, (CDU), having moved to Darwin in Australia’s Top End from the Australian National University in Canberra in 2018.

Research interests:

  • animal and plant populations dynamics
  • influence of fire on animal population dynamics and genetic diversity in natural populations
  • using genetics to understand movement patterns in saltwater crocodiles.
Meet Sam
Natasha Stacey

Professor Natasha Stacey

Professor Natasha Stacey is an environmental anthropologist. She leads a group researching sustainable resource management, food security and coastal livelihood projects in northern Australia, Indonesia and Timor Leste.

Research interests:

  • small-scale fisheries, aquaculture, Indigenous sea rights
  • Indigenous and rural coastal livelihoods and enhancement
  • gender, women and food security
  • community-based natural resource management
  • social impact assessment, participatory monitoring and evaluation.
Meet Natasha
Keith Christian

Professor Keith Christian

Professor Keith Christian did his PhD on the determinants of space use by Galapagos Land Iguanas at Colorado State University.

Research opportunities:

  • Seasonal patterns of evaporative water loss in the fauna of the wet-dry tropics.
  • Microbiomes of the Black Jewfish: spatiotemporal variation and the influence of environmental change

Meet Keith
Associate Prof Brett Murphy

Professor Brett Murphy

Originally from Western Australia, Professor Brett Murphy completed his PhD studies into the fire ecology of kangaroos at Charles Darwin University.

Research interests:

  • fire science and management
  • small mammal and fire-sensitive vegetation communities
Meet Brett
Dr Andrew Edwards

Dr Andrew Edwards

Dr Andrew Edwards is looking for prospective students who have an interest in mapping, ecology and developing tools to assist natural resource management. Prospective students who have an interest in these areas are encouraged to contact Dr Andrew Edwards for further information.

Meet Andrew
Professor Stephen Garnett

Professor Stephen Garnett

Professor Stephen Garnett is an environmental scientist with an interest in the knowledge needed to live sustainably in the tropics.

Research interests:

  • threatened species conservation, ecology, management and economics
  • natural resource management
  • biology of tropical systems.
Meet Stephen
Penny Wurm

Dr Penny Wurm

Dr Penny Wurm is an ecologist with a research background in wetland and invasive species ecology.

Research interests:

  • invasion ecology of para grass
  • integration of ecology and livelihoods
  • commercialisation of native plants.
Meet Penny
Dr Sean Bellairs

Dr Sean Bellairs

Dr Bellairs has research specialisations in the areas of restoration ecology, seed biology and commercialisation of native plants.

Research interests:

  • restoration of native vegetation on mine sites and other disturbed lands
  • ecosystem development
  • development of success criteria for ecological restoration and commercial use of native plants.
meet sean
Prof Lindsay Hutley

Prof Lindsay B. Hutley

Prof Lindsay Hutley is a plant physiologist with expertise in plant ecology, ecophysiology, ecohydrology, land-atmosphere exchange and soil science.

Prof Lindsay's recent work has focused on quantifying fluxes of carbon, water and energy balance from a range of ecosystems, including mangroves, temperate old-growth forests and Eucalypt-dominated tropical savanna ecosystems of north Australia. Understanding impacts of fire, land use change and climate change on these ecosystem processes is required to underpin natural resource management in north Australia and research programs are focussed on this goal.

Meet Lindsay
Peter Kyne

Dr Peter Kyne

Peter is a conservation biologist with interests in marine and freshwater systems. He has a background in fish biology, fisheries bycatch mitigation, and fish conservation, particularly in relation to the chondrichthyan fishes (sharks, batoids, and ghost sharks), from freshwater systems to the deep-sea. He has delivered a number of projects under the Australian Government's National Environmental Research Program (NERP) and National Environmental Science Program (NESP) aimed at driving conservation action and policy. He also has an interest in monitoring and managing threatened shorebird and terrestrial bird species.

Meet Peter
Dylan Irvine

Dr Dylan Irvine

Dylan has supervised students in coastal hydrogeology, groundwater management, and the impact of mining on groundwater springs.

Potential projects include groundwater-surface water interactions relating to many of the Territory’s major rivers (e.g. Adelaide, Flora, Daly), analyses and application of isotopic tracers, the impact of sea level rise on coastal water resources and wetlands, amongst others.

Meet Dylan
Clément Duvert

Dr Clément Duvert

Clem is starting an exciting 3-year project that will quantify the greenhouse gas emissions from streams across the Australian tropics. Prospective students who have an interest in hydrology or aquatic biogeochemistry are encouraged to contact Clem for further information.

Meet Clément
Dr Jackie Gould Research Fellow NORTHERN INSTITUTE

Senior Research Fellow Jackie Gould

I am interested in supervising PhD topics which explore the following issues:

• Protected area and fisheries governance: improving models of collaboration between governments and Indigenous Sea Country Managers to better recognise Indigenous modes of decision making and knowledge authority

• Knowledge mapping: supporting Indigenous knowledge authorities to create resources which articulate the multidimensional values of their Sea Country, which they can utilise when navigating complex cross-cultural knowledge authority domains

Meet Jackie
 Professor Alan Andersen

Professor Alan Andersen

Prof Andersen is the author of five books and >250 scientific publications, with an h-index of 76 and >20,000 career citations. In 2018 he was elected as a Fellow of the Australian Academy of Science, and in 2022 was elected to the Academy’s governing Council. He is Chair of the Academy’s National Committee for Ecology, Evolution and Conservation. He is also inaugural Chair of the Territory Science Forum, whose mission to promote an effective enabling environment for science-based innovation in the NT.

Research Interests:

  • Ant ecology
  • Invertebrate bio-indicators
  • Fire ecology and management
  • Ecology and management of tropical savannas
  • Biogeography
Meet Alan
Professor Jeremy Russell-Smith

Professor Jeremy Russell-Smith

Jeremy Russell-Smith has 40 years of experience researching savanna fire ecology, carbon market, ecosystem services, and associated livelihood opportunities for land managers and Indigenous (Aboriginal) communities in northern Australia and neighbouring countries. He is a Professorial Research Fellow / Professor of Fire Ecology with RIEL’s Darwin Centre for Bushfire Research, and Principal Scientist with the Australian-based not-for-profit, the International Savanna Fire Management Initiative. Jeremy is happy to assist with supervision in an area covered by his research and project experience.

Meet Jeremy
Dr Erica Garcia

Dr Erica Garcia

Dr Erica Garcia is an aquatic ecologist at CDU’s Research Institute for the Environment and Livelihoods and is a lecturer in the Faculty of Science and Technology. Erica is starting an exciting 3-year project called the Northern Australian Community Groundwater Security Project, it is a citizen science program that aims to better understand groundwater resources in Northern Australia. She has supervised students in wetland ecology and management, food web ecology, ecology of aquatic invertebrates and ecology of threatened fish. Prospective students with an interest in aquatic ecology and management, and/or freshwater food webs are encouraged to contact Dr Garcia for further information.

Research Interests:

  • river and wetland ecology and management 
  • food web ecology
  •  groundwater ecology and resources
Meet Erica

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