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.

Head of Academic Group

A/Prof David King photo

A/Prof David King

Director - Centre for Tropical Urban and Regional Planning. Director – Centre for Disaster Studies

David King is an Associate Professor of Geography in the College of Science and Engineering at James Cook University, and is a researcher in the Centre for Disaster Studies, and the Centre for Tropical Urban and Regional Planning. He is a Fellow of the Planning Institute of Australia. He has taught and researched at James Cook University for twenty seven years and was formerly at the University of Papua New Guinea for ten years, and employed as a school teacher for seven years. He has supervised to completion 25 PhDs and 8 masters, as well as approximately 30 honours students and 30 coursework masters theses.

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Academic Staff

Zsuzsa Banhalmi-Zakar photo

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.

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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.

Dr Amy Diedrich photo

Dr Amy Diedrich

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

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Dr Stephanie Duce

Spatial Scientist

I use geospatial technologies including GPS and remote sensing to examine and understand patterns in the environment and the physical and social processes that drive them. My main research focus is on the spatial dynamics and geomorphology of coral reefs.

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Dr Doug Goudie

Adjunct Senior Research Fellow

Douglas is extending the assumptions of ‘action research’ to develop ‘Sustainability implementation research’. His main research and consultancy arenas are sustainability planning; and disaster risk management - community preparedness and risk communication. Douglas enjoys working with governments or institutions, using surveys and focus groups to help clarify and implement sustainability planning, with the shared goals of long-term social, cultural, environmental and economic wellbeing.

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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 Lisa Law photo

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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Dr Colin MacGregor

Senior Lecturer

Colin is a geographer with a PhD in sustainable development. His research uses a variety of social science methodologies to deliver sustainable outcomes, particularly at local and regional levels and in natural resource dependent communities. He has published widely in these fields and more broadly in geography and the environmental sciences.

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A/Prof. Paul Nelson photo

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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A/Prof Scott Smithers photo

A/Prof 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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