Research student supervision

Academic staff in the School of Environment, Science and Engineering can provide supervision for postgraduate research studies in several discipline areas and topics - for Honours, Masters (MA) and Doctorate (PhD) awards.

The following is a list of areas of research specialisation in the School.

For more information about postgraduate research studies and the availability of supervisors, please contact:

T: + 61 2 6620 3650

SupervisorPotential Research Topics

Dr Alirezza Bahadori

  • Biomass gasification
  • Waste plastics pyrolysis
  • Oil and natural gas processing and LNG
  • Thermodynamics
  • Thermal engineering and heat transfer
  • Artificial intelligent modelling and optimization

Associate Professor Kirsten Benkendorff

  • Marine molluscs and intertidal reef biodiversity
  • Invertebrate immunity and impacts of stress
  • Bioactive marine natural products
  • Seafood quality, marine lipids, environmental contaminants

Professor Bill Boyd

  • Environmental management and planning
  • Higher education and teaching & learning
  • Socio-cultural perspectives on environmental management
  • Cultural heritage management
  • Quaternary geology including palynology
  • Geoarchaeology

Associate Professor Daniel Bucher

  • Coral reef ecology
  • Subtropical reef ecology
  • Benthic invertebrates of sandy sediments

Dr Daniele Cagnazzi

  • Behavioural ecology and conservation of marine megafauna
  • Population dynamics of tropical inshore dolphins
  • Health assessment of marine megafauna
  • Conservation genomics of marine megafauna

Dr Matheus C. Carvalho

  • Re-evaluation of global marine primary production

Dr Claudia Catterall

  • Ecology and management of plant species and vegetation communities
  • Conservation of threatened plant species and communities
  • Ecological restoration

Associate Professor Malcolm Clark

  • Engineering and Environmental Geochemistry
  • Acid Rock Drainage
  • Sediment water interactions

Associate Professor Symon Dworjanyn

  • Aquaculture
  • Seaweed and invertebrate ecology
  • Chemical ecology

Dr Dirk Erler

  • Nitrogen cycling
  • Wastewater systems
  • Coral palaeoceanography
  • Using coral skeletons to understand oceanic biogeochemistry in the past

Professor Brad Eyre

  • Biogeochemistry
  • Nutrient budgets and water quality
  • Estuaries

Associate Professor Ross Goldingay

  • Conservation of threatened and endangered wildlife
  • Ecology and management of forest wildlife
  • Road impacts on wildlife and their mitigation

Dr Kevin Glencross

  • Evaluating the biodiversity value of mixed species restoration systems throughout the agricultural landscapes of the Northern Rivers - a reforestation project funded by the Commonwealth Clean Energy Futures/Emissions Reduction Fund. Funds are available for an eligible Honours candidate to assist with biodiversity monitoring and ecological assessment at sites, contact Dr Glencross.

Dr Habibullah

  • Mechatronics (Mechanical/Structural vibration control, Nanopositioning control, Automotive and Bio-mechatronics)
  • Robotics and intelligent control (Agricultural, industrial, and medical robotics)
  • Dynamic systems modelling and control theory

Professor Peter Harrison

  • Reproduction in reef corals
  • Effects of bleaching and pollution stress on corals
  • Coral reef monitoring and management

Professor Brendan Kelaher

  • Drone science and 4D habitat mapping
  • Drone-based monitoring of wildlife (e.g. white sharks, turtles and dolphins)
  • Sustainable use of marine biodiversity
  • Marine conservation and management

Dr Yee Yan Lim

  • Health monitoring of civil, mechanical and aerospace structures using smart materials
  • Piezoelectric based energy harvesting from ambient vibration, human motion and wind to power electronic devices, medical implants such as pacemakers and wireless sensor networks
  • Performance of civil engineering materials including concrete, structural adhesive, fibre reinforced polymer

Associate Professor David Lloyd

  • Marine and Terrestrial Protected Area Management
  • Environmental Interpretation/Education
  • Community and Indigenous Consultation
  • Colombo Plan Scholarships are available for eligible Honours students for project work in Indonesia, contact Dr Lloyd.

Dr Hanabeth Luke

  • Social license for land use change
  • Science communication & engagement strategies
  • Sustainability transitions & adaptation
  • Interactions between Indigenous knowledge, science and/or environmental management

Dr Mona Malekzadeh 


  • Electrokinetic dewatering, decontamination and consolidation of clays and mine tailings
  • Biocementation and soil strengthening
  • Self-weight settlement prediction and analysis of slurries such as mine tailings and marine sediments
  • Expansive soils
  • Waste management
  • Geosynthetics and geo-liners

Dr Benjamin Mos

  • Aquaculture
  • Anthropogenic impacts in aquatic systems; climate change and pollution
  • Marine invertebrate ecology

Associate Professor Doland Nichols

  • Domestication of subtropical and tropical tree species
  • Tree regeneration in Border Ranges
  • Silviculture and forest health in subtropical eucalypt plantations

Dr Sumith Pathirana

  • Geographic information systems and remote sensing
  • Environmental hazard risk mapping
  • Climate change and vector borne diseases

Associate Professor Steven Purcell

  • Fisheries and aquaculture
  • Marine animal behaviour and ecology
  • Conservation biology of marine animals

Associate Professor Amanda Reichelt-Brushett

  • Ecotoxicology
  • Trace Metals
  • Sediment and water quality
  • Assessment of mercury contamination in fish and shell fish from Buru Island, Indonesia, a site of artisanal gold mining
  • Effects of nickel and cobalt on the anemone Aiptaisa pulchella
  • Sediment toxicity assessment using the brittle star Aphipolis squamata

Professor Andrew Rose

  • Iron nutrition of phytoplankton
  • Biogeochemistry of reactive oxygen species
  • Aquatic photochemistry
  • Mineral formation and nucleation in aquatic systems
  • Phosphorus removal and recovery from wastewater and organic solid waste

Professor Isaac Santos

  • Groundwater geochemistry
  • Coal seam gas
  • Carbon cycle in aquatic environments

Dr Anna Scott

  • Examining aspects of the symbiosis between sea anemones, anemonefishes, and zooxanthellae
  • Investigating the reproductive biology and developing captive breeding techniques for host sea anemones
  • Elucidating the impacts of the marine ornamental aquarium trade
  • Determining the impacts of climate change on various aspects of the symbiosis i.e. bleaching, range shifts, and thermal tolerance limits

Associate Professor Kai Schulz

  • Phytoplankton responses to global change
  • Ocean acidification and upwelling

Professor Scott Smith

  • Repair of civil infrastructure using advanced materials
  • Recycled construction materials development
  • Teaching and learning in engineering

Professor Stephen Smith

  • Marine biodiversity
  • Human impacts and their management
  • The biology and ecology of marine molluscs
  • The ecology of subtropical reefs

Dr Debra Stokes

  • Mangrove ecology
  • Estuarine benthic ecology
  • Coastal geomorphology

Professor Caroline Sullivan

  • Ecological and Environmental Economics
  • Ecosystem service valuation
  • Resource use by indigenous people
  • Climate adaptation
  • Water resources and their management

Dr Ahmed Mostafa Thabet

  • Mechanical design of wire mesh security screen doors and window grilles under extreme loading and environmental conditions.
  • The Effect of the FRP confinement tube on the structural integrity of  concrete columns.
  • Mechanical Response of Ballistically Damaged Composite Honeycomb Sandwich Panels.
  • Investigation of Shear Key Methodology for Improving Structural Performance of foam-core Sandwich Panel.
  • Durability assessment of femur fracture repair with Supercables under cyclic loading.
  • Effect of Carbon Black Loading on the Mechanical Behaviour of Styrene Butadiene and Nitrile Butadiene Rubber Compounds.
  • Design and Manufacturing of a Multi-Punch Machine for Production Pharmaceutical Tablets.

Associate Professor Kathryn Taffs

  • Palaeoecology
  • Wetland ecology and management
  • River and estuary health

Professor Jerry Vanclay

  • Modelling competition in mixed species stands
  • Plantations and water use
  • Incentives for sustainable private native forestry

Dr Michael Whelan

  • Geographic information systems and database management
  • Remote sensing
  • Agricultural software

Dr Lachlan Yee

  • Environmentally applied polymer chemistry, soil and marine
  • Antibacterial polymer surfaces
  • Environmentally sustainable and responsible chemistry
  • Remediation or mitigation of pollution in the environment, chemistry emphasis
  • Environmentally sustainable, responsible or biodegradable materials, emphasis on chemistry, ideally with polymers


  • Coral Tree - comparison of weed infested creek versus native vegetation
  • Black Taro (Xanthosma) comparison of growth rates, habitat values (e.g. for invertebrates) between Black Taro, edible Taro, Cunjevoi and native riparian vegetation; and control methods for Black Taro
  • Platypus surveys - Wilsons Creek and habitat quality assessments
  • Albert's Lyrebird - interpreting lyrebird song and dance routines
  • Threatened flora species - various topics such as growth rate comparisons and life cycles
  • Contact Associate Professor Anja Scheffers for more information


  • Recreational preferences in the Richmond River: implications for a healthy catchment; implications for a cycle-way development
  • Managing fish assemblages for water quality (2015)
  • Restoration outcomes at wetland sites in the Richmond River - measuring multiple benefits
  • Assessing the effect of riparian vegetation on gas transfer above sub-tropical rivers
  • Biodiversity payment potential from forestry sites in the Richmond River catchment
  • Contact Associate Professor Caroline Sullivan for more information