Environmental Science and Management Staff

Across our research and teaching, we have a wide range of expertise. Our researchers, your lecturers, are listed here with various networking and contact options available.

Academic Staff

Zsuzsa Banhalmi-Zakar

Zsuzsa is a Lecturer in Corporate Environmental Management. Her research focuses  on understanding how environmental issues (e.g. impacts, climate change) manifest as risks and opportunities in business decisions.

Claudia Benham

Lecturer - Environmental Management

Claudia is a Lecturer in the Division of Tropical Environments and Societies. She is an interdisciplinary marine and social scientist specialising in tropical environments. Claudia teaches and conducts research on the ecological and social dimensions of marine environments and the coastal zone.

Andrew Chin

Andrew is an AIMS@JCU Postdoctural fellow whos research involves coastal ecology and fisheries, particularly sharks and rays. He is particularly interested in the spatial ecology of coastal predators, and has a special interest in coastal fisheries in the Pacific. Andrew is currently working on hammerhead shark connectivity and PNG shark fisheries.

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Alison Cottrell

Associate Professor

Research interests focus on contemporary approaches to social impact assessment; community participation in environmental management; and social change in urban and rural settings. A particular interest is in the use and development of qualitative research  methods to approach complex environmental, disaster management and planning issues.

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Dr Amy Diedrich

My research and teaching relate broadly to the human dimensions of conservation and natural resource management, with an emphasis on coastal and marine environments. My projects focus on rural, resource dependent communities in the tropics and their responses to social and environmental change.

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Dr Yetta Gurtner

Human Geographer

A social scientist with extensive field work experience working with local communities, NGOs, private enterprise and regional governments in Australia and SE Asia, interested in proactive planning, capacity assessments and an integrated approach to enhance resilience for more sustainable livelihoods (post disaster and climate change scenarios)

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Dr Sharon Harwood


Sharon is a Registered Planner of the Planning Institute of Australia and continues to practice as a social and urban planner.  Sharon currently lectures in Environmental and Regional Planning, Planning for Sustainable Communities, Native Title and Land Use Planning and Indigenous Environmental Management.

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A/Prof Susan Laurance

I am a rainforest ecologist who studies the impacts of human land use and climate change on biodiversity.  My research is mostly applied and as a consequence my discoveries pertain directly to the restoration of degraded ecosystems or the conservation of endangered species and ecosystems.

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A/Prof Lisa Law

Lisa Law is a geographer with interests in the politics of urban spaces in Southeast Asia and tropical Australia. Her research crosses a broad spectrum of social and urban issues, including: the changing meanings of public space, embodied experiences of migration and the politics/governance of the tropical built environment.

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Dr Han She Lim


I am a hydrologist interested in the hydrological processes of tropical catchments using a combination of fieldwork and modelling techniques. Some of my research interests include stormwater remediation using low impact development techniques and flood hydrology.

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A/Prof. Paul Nelson

Soil Scientist

My research and teaching focus on understanding the processes determining soil condition, runoff water quality and greenhouse gas balance in tropical agricultural systems, and assessing ways of improving them.

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Dr Keith Noble

Agricultural Scientist

My PhD considered farmer’s resilience in North Australian agriculture as a lived experience, set in the context of renewed interest in northern development and associated policy. A director of Terrain NRM and a PIA Registered Planner, I am committed to improved regional community input into landscape management and governance.

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Professor Jeff Sayer

Jeff leads a team researching development patterns in tropical countries. The objective is to reconcile the pressures caused by economic growth with the need to conserve the environment and ensure equitable distribution of benefits. Recent work has focused on landscape transitions provoked by infrastructure investments, particularly in Indonesia.

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Dr Kearrin Sims

Kearrin is a critical development scholar trained in sociology and international relations. His current research interests centre around the intensification of intraregional socio-cultural and economic flows within Asia and rethinking development pedagogy and practice.

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Scott Smithers


I am a geomorphologist with particular interests in tropical coasts and rivers. My Current research focuses on the geomorphology of coral reefs and reef islands, where I enjoy working on multi-disciplinary research projects with both theoretical and applied outcomes.

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Dr Silvia Tavares

I have a background in Architecture, Urbanism and Building Science, and I am particularly interested in urban comfort (the combination of human thermal comfort, sociocultural identity and lifestyle, and adaptive capacity). My research interests also extend to urban microclimate, cultural landscapes, climate change, and post-disaster recovery.

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Research Students

Gracie Charlton

In 2016 I completed a Bachelor of Science (Adv) majoring in Ecology and Conservation. My honours thesis investigated how rainforest connectivity management could be optimised by combining landowner values and management objectives with ecological values. I'm broadly interested in ecology and the social aspects of environmental management.

Dr Alexander Cheesman

Alex is a plant ecophysiologist, interested in the responses of tropical trees to a changing world. Coupling field ecology, detailed physioloical measurements and experimental manipulations he seeks to understand how plants respond to both seasonal and long-term changes in their environment

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Blanche D'Anastasi

Blanche has a passion for applied conservation research. Blanche specialises in marine conservation genomics and is currently undertaking a PhD on the genomics of threatened sea snakes. Blanche is also a member of the IUCN Sea Snake Specialist Group, a contributor to the IUCN Global Status Review of Sawfish, and a research partner of Bush Heritage.

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Victoria Graham

My research applies quantitative tools (e.g. geographic information systems (GIS), cost-benefit analysis and decision support software) to investigate cost-effective climate mitigation strategies (such as REDD+) in SE Asia.

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Jeremy Horowitz

Jeremy has interests in conservation planning and mesophotic and deep-sea corals.  Current work deals with research regarding stakeholder perceptions of resource decline and ways to increase effectiveness of conservation interventions. Future research will aim to fill gaps in our basic understanding of mesophotic and deep-sea black corals.

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Virgilio M. Maguigad

Environmental Planner

My research is about the necessary enabling and hindering political ecology that need to be considered for climate change adaptation in small islands with significant tourism sectors as an economic base. The doctoral research is conducted in Boracay, Samal, and Batan islands. I work as a regional director with the Philippine Department of Tourism.

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Magdalena Pfaffl

The aim of my interdisciplinary PhD research project is to research the challenges faced by modern remote settlements in harsh environments and to learn about how residents and communities as a whole cope with life far away from major cities and in difficult environments. My professional background is in mining engineering and project management.

Rebecca Riggs

I work with the Development Practice Programme at JCU and am currently completing a PhD on the Social-ecological Impacts of Landscape Transitions in Southeast Asia. I am interested in reconciling conservation development trade-offs at the landscape scale. My field work is based in Cambodia and Indonesia.

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Dwi Amalia Sari

Environmental Auditor

I am passionate in auditing the governance of natural resources specifically forestry. My current research is about formulating a template of audit mechanism in assessing the performance of forest governance

Rismita Sari


I work on the systematic of Garcinia (Clusiaceae), the mangosteen group.

Claudia Trave

Marine Biologist and Coastal Ecologist

Researcher and PhD Student working on evaluating the configuration and utility of natural/artificial habitat features in tropical estuaries to identify critical components for the conservation and/or restoration of local ecosystems in face of continuous development. I am also a graphic designer and scientific illustrator.

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Larissa Valerio


I am currently undertaking a PhD with the College of Science and Engineering and affiliated with CSIRO (Oceans and Atmosphere). The PhD project is focused on the retrieval of coastal water quality at the Great Barrier Reef from high temporal resolution (~10 min) satellite imagery and advanced inversion techniques.