College of Science and Engineering CSE Research Earth and Environmental Science Research

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Earth and Environmental Science Research

Earth and Environmental Science includes the study of geoscience and environmental management to understand and find solutions to contemporary environmental challenges. Our research aims to address environmental issues now and into the future, including climate change, energy production, natural disaster management, conservation, natural resource management, and land use.

JCU has many world-renowned researchers who undertake cutting-edge research in their chosen field of earth and environmental science and management. We are at the forefront of research in a number of environmental science and management themes, including:

Zsuzsa Banhalmi-Zakar

As a multidisciplinary research theme, corporate environmental management builds on expertise from the disciplines of science, engineering, business, law and governance. We study what drives, impacts and determines corporate environmental practices and explore theoretical issues. Our research is varied, cutting across industries and issues such as sustainable and climate finance, mapping environmental and social co-benefits of corporate activities, corporate resilience, implications of the transition to a clean economy, sustainability, the theory and practice of corporate social responsibility and environmental disclosure.

Amy Diedrich, Lisa Law, Kearrin Sims, David King, Yetta Gurtner

At JCU our development studies program draws on multidisciplinary expertise to critically interrogate the world’s most prominent social, political, economic and environmental challenges. Key themes of research include: Environmental governance and sustainable resource management, poverty alleviation, inequality, geopolitics of development, disaster relief, urban transformations, community well being, and the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals. Students of development studies at JCU will work collaboratively with a broad range of stakeholders to acquire the academic expertise and practical field-based skills required to undertake diverse career pathways and to make positive changes in the world.

Stephanie Duce, Karen Joyce, Scott Smithers, Rob Beaman

We use satellite, airborne, shipborne, and field survey data to map and monitor the environment. Technologies used include drones, sophisticated sensors (hyperspectral, thermal, and photogrammetric camera) and state of the art GIS software. Ongoing projects include mapping the Great Barrier Reef and reef islands, monitoring water circulation and thermodynamics on the reef, documenting sites of archaeological significance, long-term mangrove monitoring, coastal erosion and horticultural yield estimates.

Amy Diedrich, Hanshe Lim, Paul Nelson, Scott Smithers, Stephanie Duce

The conservation and sustainable use of natural resources can occur only in conjunction with resilient, adaptive and receptive societies. This research theme focuses on understanding the feedbacks and interaction between humans and the biophysical environment in a variety of contexts and settings. Our research spans a multitude of sectors such as aquaculture, fisheries, farming and protected areas and societies throughout the tropical world.

Scott Smithers, Stephanie Duce

This group examines the physical surface features of the Earth. There is a strong focus on the health and functioning of tropical riverine catchments and coastal environments and reconstructing climate and environmental change through a range of long-term natural archives. Specific projects include catchment sediment sources and transport rates, coral reef and reef island development and change, long-term patterns of extreme natural events and coastal change over time.

Yetta Gurtner, David King,Lisa Law, Kearrin Sims

Our researchers are committed to understanding complex land use and development issues in settlements across the tropics, in particular in Australasia, Southeast Asia, and the Pacific.  Our focus is on environmentally responsive and inclusive urban design, indigenous and remote settlement planning and disaster management strategies.  We have close connections to government, industry and community stakeholders through our Tropical Urbanism and Design Lab and the Centre for Disaster Studies.

HanShe Lim, Paul Nelson, Scott Smithers, Michael Bird

We study the processes and conditions of water and soil in natural and managed ecosystems of the tropics, including the cycling and transformations of carbon, nutrients and contaminants. This allows us to develop ways of improving the productivity and biodiversity of agricultural soils, improving the health of aquatic and marine ecosystems and reducing greenhouse gas emissions. For more information visit our Land and Water Science Group web page.

Paul Dirks, Ioan Sanislav, Jan Huizenga, Eric Roberts

Through the world-renowned Economic Geology Research Unit (EGRU), and with close industry ties, we study mineral deposits around the world. Our current focus is on mineral occurrences in the Mt Isa Block (Au, Cu, Co, REE etc); the role of metal isotopes in exploration; and the exploration for New Economy Minerals (In, Ga, Ge, REE, Li, Co, Sc, Sn, W etc) in NE Queensland and beyond.

Find out more at the Economic Geology Research Centre.

Michael Bird, Karen Joyce, Rob Beaman, Paul Dirks

Environmental Geosciences researches the ‘critical zone’ – the skin of the earth where soil, water, plants, humans and climate interact. Research in this theme is concerned with understanding these interactions: how they have evolved in the past, hoe they operate in the present, and how they will change into the future in the face of population growth, land use pressure, food security issues, pollution and climate change.

Ioan Sanislav, Jan Huizenga

Using the state-of-the-art analytical facilities in JCUs' Advanced Analytical Centre, we investigate a range of Earth processes, including; continent formation and evolution, magmatism related to plate tectonic processes, Mantle petrology and geochemistry, magma fertility, the evolution of metamorphic rocks, and whole Earth geochemical cycling.

Eric Roberts, Paul Dirks, Espen Knutsen, Ioan Sanislav

A key aspect of our research is to explore for and provide geologic context for vertebrate fossil localities, with a focus on new hominin and dinosaur fossil discoveries. Our research group is involved in testing a variety of hypotheses related to past environments and climates, uplift and drainage histories, palaeobiogeography, and extinction and evolution of vertebrate and plant communities. We have active projects in Australia, Africa, North America, Antarctica and Asia and are always looking for new students to work on these projects.