Frances Alexander

Frances Alexander

PhD candidate

Research Summary

Frances completed a Bachelor of Science with honours majoring in Zoology at James Cook University in Townsville, North Queensland. She then completed a Masters of Environmental Science by coursework at the University of Melbourne and subsequently worked as a research assistant at both the University of Melbourne and Monash University. Frances is currently doing her PhD with Southern Cross University as an external student based at the Australian Antarctic Division in Hobart investigating the toxicity of fuels and fuel dispersants to Antarctic marine invertebrates.

Environmental pollution resulting from fuel spills in Antarctic waters is increasingly likely with rises in shipping associated with tourism and research activities, both of which require and transport large quantities of fuel. While fuel dispersants are not currently used in the management of fuel spills in Antarctica, there is a need for scientifically robust assessment and advice on the possible use of dispersants for pollution management in the future, and on their potential ecological effects in Antarctic waters. At present, little is known regarding the effects of fuel dispersants on Antarctic biota. This lack of data prevents the determination of effective options for the management of even moderate scale fuel spills. Frances' project is assessing the ecological risks of the water accommodated fraction of three fuel types commonly used in Antarctica: Special Antarctic Blend Diesel (SAB), Marine Gas Oil (MGO) and Intermediate Fuel Oil (IFO 180). A range of Antarctic marine invertebrates are used in toxicity tests including copepods, amphipods, microgastropods and nemerteans. Data generated from this work will assist in the development of effective fuel spill contingency plans to better manage environmental pollution resulting from fuel spills in Antarctic waters.

Principal supervisor: Prof. Peter Harrison
Co-supervisors: Dr. Cath King, Dr. Amanda Reichelt-Brushett, Dr. Alison Lane


Australian Postgraduate Award (APA) PhD Scholarship 2012, Southern Cross University, NSW 2480, Australia.

Ron Kenny Award: best performance in third year zoology.

Academic Medal for Bachelor coursework.


King, J., Alexander, F., Brodie, J. 2013. Regulation of pesticides in Australia: The Great Barrier Reef as a case study for evaluating effectiveness. Agriculture, Ecosystems and Environment, 180, 54-67.