Zoology and Ecology 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

Professor Simon Robson

A behavioural ecologist interested in the evolution and organisation of complex systems, concentrating mainly on the behaviour of social insects and bats. Enjoy fieldwork and teaching in a variety of tropical countries.

Academic Staff

Dr. Lucas Cernusak

Plant Ecophysiology

How will tropical rainforests respond to changing climate and rising atmospheric carbon dioxide?  Answering this question is critical for understanding the human perturbation to the global carbon cycle, and for conserving the unique biodiversity of tropical rainforests.  I seek to find new ways to help answer this overarching question.

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Prof. Darren Crayn


My work involves studies of the origins, evolution and classification of plants and deals broadly with the questions: how many plant species exist, where do they occur, how are they related and how have they evolved?

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Dr Megan Higgie

Evolutionary Biologist

My research is field- and laboratory-based in evolution, ecology, and genetics, with a focus on animal adaptation, natural and sexual selection, and speciation. In particular, I am interested in how new species arise through premating isolation; and how species interactions cause selection, particularly in relation to climate change and speciation.

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Dr Lori Lach


I am interested in how human-induced environmental changes, such as biological invasions, affect interactions among species. Much of my research has investigated invasive social insects – their interactions with other species, their role in the environment, and how their resource use and behavior affect their success.

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Distinguished Professor William Laurance

Bill Laurance is a tropical conservation biologist who works in the Asia-Pacific, Amazonia, and African ecosystems.  He is the author of nearly 600 scientific and popular publications.

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Dr Tobin Northfield


Tobin is broadly interested in the evolutionary ecology and interactions between species. His main areas of focus are improving natural pest control and pollination by insects and related animals, and describing arms races between interacting species. He combines experiments and mathematical models to understand these complex processes.

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Heather Robson

Associate Dean Learning & Teaching

My research is in an exciting new field of genetics which uses environmental DNA (eDNA) and metabarcoding to monitor tropical freshwater biodiversity.  I am particulary interested in using eDNA to detect invasive fish and rare and critically endangered species.  I mainly work on fish and frogs.

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Professor Simon Robson

A behavioural ecologist interested in the evolution and organisation of complex systems, concentrating mainly on the behaviour of social insects and bats. Enjoy fieldwork and teaching in a variety of tropical countries.

Nadiah Roslan

Nadiah coordinates the NCCARF Natural Ecosystems Network, an initiative of the Australian Federal Government that brings together researchers and stakeholders with an interest in climate change adaptation for biodiversity. Nadiah works with NCCARF to promote and support activities that help prepare for and manage the risks of climate change.

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Dr Tasmin Rymer

Animal Behaviourist

I am passionate about the living world, particularly the mammals that live in it, and enjoy passing on this love to my students. I teach plant and animal diversity, fundamentals of biology and evolutionary biology. I have a fondness for rodents and am actively investigating various aspects of their behaviour.

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Prof Lin Schwarzkopf

Vertebrate Ecologist

Lin studies a wide variety of questions related to vertebrate ecology. She examines  very applied questions on invasive species biology and control, and effects of anthropological activities such as grazing and introduced vegetation on vertebrate ecology, as well as purer theoretical studies of habitat use and predator-prey dynamics in vertebrates.

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Professor Jeremy Vanderwal

Research Staff

Adjunct Staff

Research Students

Habat Asad

I am PhD candidate in the College of Science and Engineering. I am working on improving mango breeding efficiency by improving pollen storage, fruit set & retention and effective parent selection for future crosses.

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Anita Bousa

I am from Laos and have been working with conservation organization in Laos for eight years.

Jaimie Hopkins

I’m studying the behaviour and ecological impacts of the invasive Asian house gecko Hemidactylus frenatus. I’m particularly interested in how this species is impacting native geckos, and what behavioural differences are found between urban-associated and bush-established populations of Asian house gecko.

Tabitha Hui


I am passionate about wildlife conservation and much of my research is centred on resolving human-wildlife conflicts. Currently I am studying the behaviour and ecology of small mammals around wildlife corridors in Malaysia in order to improve the design of such structures for increasing connectivity among fragmented habitats.

Adjunct Professor Betsy Jackes

My areas of focus include plant systematics and plant reproductive biology.  I am Particularly involved with ecology and identification of plants in North Queensland. Also involved in writing articles and guide books for the community.

Pauline Lenancker

I am a PhD student currently exploring the processes influencing colony founding in the invasive tropical fire ant in northern Australia. Specifically, I work on tropical fire ant’s colony founding behaviour and the effects of small genetic diversity on the invasive ant’s population success.

Lain E. Pardo

I am interested in applied ecology, conservation biology and wildlife management, with a particular focus on mammals and in the effects of human activities on biodiversity in the tropics. My current PhD research is about diversity and habitat use of  mammals across oil palm dominated landscapes in the Llanos region of Colombia.

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Jendrian Riedel

My research interest is the biology of reptiles. For my PhD I examine the skin morphology (especially microornamentation) of Carphodactyline and Diplodactyline Geckos and of Flap-Footed Lizards. They serve as model groups to study the evolution of skin morphology, driven by the need to adapt to different habitats and lifestyles.

Danielle Riethmiller

I am a Post-grad student and member of the JCU Turtle Health Research Group. My research focuses on developing and assessing environmental enrichment techniques for green turtles.

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