Postgraduate research students


Alex Basford

“Improving live feeds for larval rearing in aquaculture”

Supervisors: Associate Professor Symon Dworjanyn and Dr Benjamin Mos

My research focuses on developing new or better live feeds for marine larvae. This will hopefully improve the larval rearing of crustaceans and finfish in aquaculture. My work also has a strong focus on fish species found in the marine aquarium trade.



Dylan Brown

“Wetland soil carbon sequestration”

Supervisors: Associate Professor Christian Sanders and Prof Isaac Santos



Peter Butcherine

“The sublethal impacts of neonicotinoid insecticide exposure on aquaculture produced shrimp and prawns”

Supervisors: Associate Professor Kirsten Benkendorff, Associate Professor Bronwyn Barkla, Professor Brendan Kelaher

Research: My research is aiming to identify biomarkers for insecticide exposure in prawns. This involves optimising and validating analysis methods and determining how these impact prawn production and nutritional quality. My aims are to improve insecticide management and remediation systems for shrimp and prawn aquaculture.



Kerry Cameron

“Restoration of corals on reefs using enhanced larval supply”

Supervisors: Professor Peter Harrison and Dr Danny Bucher

Coral reefs are in decline around the world and new methods to support and restore these important ecosystems are needed. Through SCU’s Marine Ecology Research Centre, I am working on refinements to restoring coral reefs through larval reseeding, where we capture coral spawn, rear them into millions of coral larvae, then contain these larvae during their settlement phase over areas of degraded reef that need new coral recruits. Most of our team’s work has been conducted in the Philippines and the southern Great Barrier Reef.



Andrew Colefax

“Drones can increasingly provide non-destructive shark management and beach safety”

Supervisors: Professor Brendan Kelaher, Adjunct Professor Paul Butcher (NSW DPI)

There is a growing public demand for shark management along many coastal beaches that has minimal impact on marine life. As part of the NSW Government’s Shark Management Strategy, and through the NSW Department of Primary Industries and Southern Cross University, I am developing the use of drones to perform shark surveillance and beach safety. This includes testing the current efficacy of drone-based surveillance with appropriate flight parameters, and researching ways to improve detection reliability and risk management. Although drone-based surveillance is proving effective, investigating the use of advanced sensors and software, combined with shark behaviour will further enhance its reliability.



Rogger E Correa

“Groundwater discharge modelling”

Professor Isaac Santos, Associate Professor Christian Sanders, Dr Nils Moosdorf (Freie Univeristy)

Hydrologist, working on estimation of Submarine Groundwater Discharge (SGD) to the Southern Pacific through simulation and isotopic tracers. My interests range from GIS, applied computational science, to in-situ water quality assessment.



Kay Davis

“Short and long-term drivers of coral reef ecosystem metabolism”

Supervisors: Professor Isaac Santos and Professor Brendan Kelaher

My research investigates the water chemistry in coral reefs to determine rates of calcification and photosynthesis occurring within the ecosystem. Investigating differences in metabolic rates over both time and space may provide insight on how coral reefs vary as a function of environmental parameters. I hope the information gathered by these studies leads to an increased understanding of how changing water conditions may influence the biogeochemistry of these ecosystems.



Nicola Fraser

“Sea anemones in the marine aquarium trade”

Supervisors: Dr Anna Scott, Dr Sangeeta Mangubhai (WCS Fiji) and Dr Karina Hall (NSW DPI)

The majority of sea anemones in the marine aquarium trade are wild-captured. I’m investigating both sexual and asexual reproduction of sea anemones that host anemonefishes. My long-term goal is to develop mariculture methods for host anemones, thereby reducing collection pressures on wild populations, providing stock to re-populate denuded habitats and the potential for sustainable livelihoods in developing nations.



Anna Giles

‘Drones and dolphins’

Supervisors: Professor Brendan Kelaher and Associate Professor Paul Butcher

I am determining the potential impact of drones on dolphin behaviour (Tursiops truncatus and Tursiops aduncus), and assessing the uses of drones as a surveying technique for dolphin behaviour and ecology. The current NSW legislation requires drone users to fly no lower than 100 m above cetaceans, however potential impacts of drones on cetaceans have not been studied. This research will determine if drones cause any impact on dolphins, and if so quantify a height at which drones can be flown over inshore dolphins with no disturbance. Legislation can then be adjusted to better reflect disturbance levels. This knowledge will be useful for future studies of marine animals using drones, and will hopefully lead to better compliance by recreational users.



Luke Jeffrey

“Groundwater and Carbon Dynamics of Modified Wetlands”

Supervisors: Dr. Douglas Tait, Associate Professor Damien Maher, Professor Isaac Santos, Professor Scott Johnson and Dr. Andy Steven (CSIRO)

I am currently researching the role of groundwater as a driver of surface water dynamics of the two greenhouse gasses; methane (CH4) and carbon dioxide (CO2) in a variety of coastal systems. My studies have focused on a range of hydrologically modified Australian estuaries and freshwater wetlands, both of which can be hotspots for greenhouse gas emissions.



Lea Mamo

“Maximising positive outcomes for threatened species from coastal infrastructure upgrades”

Supervisors: Professor Brendan Kelaher, Adjunct Professor Melinda Coleman (NSW DPI) and Professor Stephen Smith

My research focuses on ecosystem impacts of hard coastal protection structures and investigates potential mitigation strategies. The Coffs Harbour breakwater upgrade serves as a case study, with special attention to the critically endangered brown alga Nereia lophocladia, as this area is the only place globally where it occurs. To maximise Nereia’s conservation success, a combination of ecological engineering measures and the evaluation of the species’ biology and ecology that inform management decisions will be explored.



Duan March

“Health assessments for green sea turtles”

Supervisor: Professor Brendan Kelaher



Matt Nimbs

"Taxonomy and systematics of the Australian Aplysiidae"

Supervisors: Professor Steve Smith

Matt Nimbs is a PhD candidate in the field of invertebrate taxonomy and systematics with a focus on heterobranch gastropods, specifically the Australian Aplysiidae, the sea-hares. In preparation for his PhD studies he completed a Bachelor of Science with Honours (First Class) at Southern Cross University in June 2016 with research focusing on the temporal ecology and biogeography of sea slugs. Matt is the membership secretary of the Malacological Society of Australasia and is also a member of the Australian Marine Science Association (AMSA), Unitas Malacologica (World Malacological Body), the Solitary Islands Underwater Research Group and The Royal Zoological Society of New South Wales.




Euan Provost

“The utility of drones for coastal management data collection”

Supervisors: Professor Brendan Kelaher, Adjunct Professor Paul Butcher (NSW DPI) and Adjunct Professor Melinda Coleman (NSW DPI)

My research looks at the possible applications of drone technologies for data collection in support of coastal management. Coastal areas are at risk from unsustainable use and require management in order to protect these areas. Knowing how these areas are used assisting managers to make informed decisions, and drone technology have the potential to collect data in a cost-effective and safe manner. My project investigates the potential applications of drones, determining the utility of drone based technology.


Sophie Pryor

Sophie Pryor

“Anemonefish and their host sea anemones in a changing climate”

Supervisors: Dr Anna Scott and Professor Brendan Kelaher

I am researching marine fish distribution and persistence, habitat impacts and symbiotic relationship breakdowns as the oceans warm using iconic anemonefishes and their host sea anemones. Via a combination of mensurative field and manipulative laboratory experiments, my PhD studies add to our knowledge of climate change impacts on marine life.



James Tucker

“Whale carcass management on beaches: groundwater contamination, flow to ocean and shark attraction”

Supervisors: Professor Isaac Santos and Adjunct Professor Paul Butcher (NSW DPI)

I am investigating the decomposition of whale carcasses buried on beaches and their potential to attract sharks to the near shore area. The purpose of my research is to determine if burying whale carcasses on a beach is a safe disposal option with the hopes of reducing the impacts of whale carcass disposals and potentially reducing negative interactions between people and sharks.



Kate Seinor

“Ecological correlates of the introduced top-shell gastropod, Tectus niloticus, on coral reefs in Samoa”

Supervisor: Associate Professor Steve Purcell



Dave Rae

“Teaching predator-awareness skills to hatchery-reared fingerlings to improve efficiency of stock enhancement programmes”

Supervisors: Associate Professor Symon Dworjanyn and Dr Anna Scott



Praktan Wadnerkar

“Influence of land-use on estuarine water quality and modelling for understanding relation between pollutant fluxes from various sources to estuarine water”

Supervisors: Professor Isaac Santos and Associate Professor Christian Sanders

An estuary is a vital natural resource, providing immense value from ecological, social and economic perspective. Changes in estuaries can occur in response to variety of natural and anthropogenic causes, including catchment disturbance, hydrological modification and land use. Estuaries act as a pathway for solutes to enter the coastal ocean. They are a significant source of greenhouse gases, nutrients and dissolved carbon to ocean. Here, I am investing how land-use alters estuarine water quality and modelling relation between pollutant fluxes from various source to estuarine water.



Shane White

“Nitrogen sources and management in streams with diverse land uses”

Supervisors: Professor Isaac Santos and Associate Professor Symon Dworjanyn

The biogeochemical and ecohydraulic states of waterways are heavily influenced by the surrounding land use in a catchment. My research will investigate phase shifts, nutrient cycling and greenhouse gas emissions in impacted waterways as a result of rainfall runoff and groundwater seepage in fertiliser intensive land use catchments. Along with this, I will explore possible ways to capture pollutants on farm. This could reduce the possibility of eutrophication, algal blooms and greenhouse gas emissions in impacted creeks, streams and estuaries.