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Dr Bonnie McBain

Conjoint Fellow

School of Environmental and Life Sciences (Geography and Environmental Studies)

Career Summary

Biography

What inspires me professionally and personally is the search for solutions to persistent environmental problems. Given the increasing complexity of environmental issues, I focus my research, teaching and professional practice on approaches which address this complexity directly. I have a multidisciplinary environmental background (Ecological Footprints, climate change, surface water quality, catchment management, sustainable forest management, air quality, groundwater and fisheries management) but am particularly interested in transdisciplinarity (work that goes beyond traditional disciplinary boundaries). My work aims to build solutions which increase the resilience of communities and the natural environment they rely upon for their welfare. My research, teaching and professional practice explicitly uses holistic, systems thinking to address the limitations of current environmental management. I have a background in the development of sustainability policy especially those aspects of policy which persistently hinder the implementation of appropriate policy and behavioural change. I am interested in approaches which allow decision makers to make robust and defensible policy choices given the likelihood that future uncertainty will increase. My expertise in strategic planning for an uncertain future includes scenario and futures analysis, environmental modelling, robust policy development, collaborative learning, mechanisms for adaptive management and the explicit consideration of alternate explanations, values and perspectives. I am also interested in environmental governance and the benefits of particularly participatory processes. Although I research Ecological Footprints (the demand we have on Earth’s resources), what I am really interested in is that my work can support the growth of our collective Ecological Handprint (the positive impact we can have on the planet).

Research Expertise

Key research skills and expertise: 1. Dynamic Modelling: My modelling repertoire not only includes that of modelling future Ecological Footprints but also other factors relevant to environmental management and sustainability such as climate change, land use demand, land degradation, biodiversity, surface water nutrient pollution sources and sources of diffuse air emissions. 2. Resilience Thinking: My work aims to build solutions which increase the resilience of communities and the natural environment they rely upon for their welfare. A shift away from linear thinking and the assumptions behind incremental, controllable change are needed to make environmental governance appropriate to modern environmental challenges. We must also consider the affects of multiple scales (time and space), multiple worldview and contested interests. 3. Climate change: my current research involves the modelling climate change for the development of scenarios to mitigate future dangerous climate change. Although incredibly complex, I aim to condense and communicate the core understanding needed for responsible decision making. 4. Complexity theory and systems thinking: The increasing complexity of environmental management requires best practice approaches including transdisciplinary approaches, social learning, wholistic thinking, adaptive and flexible management and regional solutions etc. 5. Uncertainty and futures analysis: There is much evidence that the uncertainty surrounding environmental decision making has resulted in a postponement of decisions that, in reality, are required very urgently. My expertise for strategic planning for uncertain environmental management includes scenario development, continual and iterative collaborative learning that adapts to new knowledge over time, incorporation of mechanisms for adaptive management and the explicit consideration of alternate explanations, values and perspectives. 6. Collaborative community engagement: Participatory decision making accounts for societal values and choices relating to management are highly divergent and contested issues. It is important that environmental policy is developed in collaboration with relevant stakeholders so that 1) different perspectives and worldviews can add value and allow the incorporation of critical uncertainties 2) different stakeholders can have ownership of decisions 3) different stakeholders can take part in a process of social learning to develop a shared understanding and 4) policy tradeoffs and benefits can be negotiated.

Teaching Expertise
As a lecturer, I have extensive theoretical and practical experience in the field of environmental management which is highly diverse and I bring that expertise into my teaching. My background in environmental management and sustainability includes: • Specific expertise in environmental policy, sustainability in urban and regional environments, resilience thinking, collaborative/participatory decision making, systems thinking, complexity, futures analysis, environmental indicators, uncertainty analysis; • Specific skills related to Ecological Footprint dynamic simulation, ecology, surface water quality, catchment management, sustainable forest management, air quality, groundwater and fisheries management; • Regional, national and international experience; • Experience in academia, government and consulting; I apply best practice learning theory to all my teaching because I believe it has vocational relevance out there in the real world in environment, sustainability, ecosystem health and resilience practice. In particular I focus on: 1. Learner centred teaching – from my perspective it’s about learning not teaching. This slightly different perspective is subtle but critical. Basically this means that students will be explicitly practicing and implementing the theory that they learn through case studies and practical, vocationally relevant assessment tasks. Students are guided and supported throughout the course in achieving the learning but because this is a collaborative learning environment, students and lecturer together can all support each other in this learning. Assessments are deliberately set in such a way that they will require students to reflect on their own assumptions, question them and consider the views of other that may differ from their own worldviews; 2. Critical thinking – new university graduates are often criticized for not having the relevant practical skills required in the workforce to contribute autonomous expertise. Here we specifically address the critical thinking skills that you will need; 3. Collaborative learning–working together to help one another in the learning process –this provides a mutual benefit to all involved in learning – students and lecturers. It also replicates what occurs in the workforce; 4. Spontaneous learning – depends on what is currently happening, what students are involved and what their background/views are; 5. Personal learning - we all come with different experiences, backgrounds and worldviews. As the course progresses students have the chance to realise that this is actually the jewel in the crown behind collaborative learning. The collegial learning environment and individual learning will be enhanced if students are able consider, try and regularly use a number of personal learning approaches and perspectives which enable them to be reflective, proactive and appropriately responsive. I encourage students to be courageous enough to be open to views they disagree with and to question their own assumptions to get the most out of the courses I teach. The courses I teach provide students with knowledge and practical skills which are much needed in the workforce given the growing complexity of environmental issues throughout the globe. 


Qualifications

  • PhD, University of Tasmania
  • Bachelor of Applied Science (Environmental Science, Charles Sturt University
  • Bachelor of Applied Science (Environment Sc)(Hons), Charles Sturt University

Keywords

  • complexity
  • ecosystem health
  • environmental indicators
  • environmental management
  • environmental policy
  • futures analysis
  • modelling
  • participatory decision making
  • resilience
  • resilience thinking
  • systems thinking
  • uncertainty analysis

Languages

  • German (Fluent)

Fields of Research

Code Description Percentage
120504 Land Use and Environmental Planning 30
160507 Environment Policy 30
050299 Environmental Science and Management not elsewhere classified 40

Professional Experience

UON Appointment

Title Organisation / Department
Web Learn Tutor Env & Life Sciences University of Newcastle
School of Environmental and Life Sciences
Australia

Academic appointment

Dates Title Organisation / Department
1/01/2011 - 1/06/2013 Catchment Action Plan Development Officer Hunter-Central Rivers Catchment Management Authority
School of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science (UoNS)
Australia
1/06/2007 - 1/01/2011 Fellowship - APDI

ARC - Linkage -

Projects (including Australian Postdoctoral (Industry) Fellowships)

University of Newcastle
School of Environmental and Life Sciences
Australia
1/01/2007 - 1/01/2012 Research Fellow University of Newcastle
School of Environmental and Life Sciences
Australia

Awards

Recipient

Year Award
2013 Online Teacher of the Year Award
Unknown
2013 Sessional Academic of the Year
Unknown

Invitations

Distinguished Visitor

Year Title / Rationale
2008 The Centre for Business Relationships Accountability, Sustainability & Society (BRASS)
Organisation: University of Cardiff

Speaker

Year Title / Rationale
2011 Forests NSW Research Seminar Series
Organisation: Forest Corp
2009 Centre for Urban & Regional Studies
Organisation: University of Newcastle
2008 Stockholm Environment Institute
Organisation: University of York
2008 Hunter Transport & Logistics Forum
Organisation: Hunter Transport & Logistics
2008 Expert Group Meeting on Sustainability of Economic Growth, Resource Efficiency and Resilience
Organisation: United Nations Economic & Social Commission for the Asia Pacific
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Publications

For publications that are currently unpublished or in-press, details are shown in italics.


Journal article (13 outputs)

Year Citation Altmetrics Link
2012 Lenzen M, McBain V, 'Using tensor calculus for scenario modelling', Environmental Modelling and Software, 37 41-54 (2012) [C1]
Citations Scopus - 1Web of Science - 1
2006 Baker S, Lauck B, 'Association of common brown froglets, Crinia signifera, with clearcut forest edges in Tasmania, Australia', WILDLIFE RESEARCH, 33 29-34 (2006) [C1]
DOI 10.1071/WR04120
Citations Scopus - 7Web of Science - 6
2006 Lauck B, 'Fluctuating asymmetry of the frog Crinia signifera in response to logging', WILDLIFE RESEARCH, 33 313-320 (2006) [C1]
DOI 10.1071/WR04107
Citations Scopus - 7Web of Science - 6
2005 Lauck B, 'Life history of the frog Crinia signifera in Tasmania, Australia', AUSTRALIAN JOURNAL OF ZOOLOGY, 53 21-27 (2005) [C1]
DOI 10.1071/ZO04028
Citations Scopus - 9Web of Science - 8
2005 Lauck B, Swain R, Barmuta L, 'Breeding site characteristics regulating life history traits of the brown tree frog, Litoria ewingii', HYDROBIOLOGIA, 537 135-146 (2005) [C1]
DOI 10.1007/s10750-004-2790-1
Citations Scopus - 4Web of Science - 4
2005 Lauck B, 'Life-history studies and the impact of recent forest harvesting on two frog species, Crinia signifera and Litoria ewingii', Tasforests, 16 83-93 (2005) [C1]
2005 Lauck B, Swain R, Bashford R, 'The response of the frog Crinia signifera to different silvicultural practices in southern Tasmania, Australia', Tasforests, 17 29-36 (2005) [C1]
2005 Lauck B, 'The impact of recent logging and pond isolation on pond colonization by the frog Crinia signifera', Pacific Conservation Biology, 11 50-56 (2005) [C1]

A colonization experiment was used to investigate landscape use of a commercially managed wet forest in southern Tasmania by the ground-dwelling frog, Crinia signifera. Replicated... [more]

A colonization experiment was used to investigate landscape use of a commercially managed wet forest in southern Tasmania by the ground-dwelling frog, Crinia signifera. Replicated artificial ponds were placed at increasing distances (20, 100, 250 and 500 m) from nine permanent breeding sites to investigate the effect of pond isolation on colonization. Four of these permanent breeding sites were surrounded by coupes that had been logged within the previous five years and five permanent breeding sites were surrounded by unlogged forest to investigate the effect of recent logging on colonization. The rate of colonization, the frequency of colonization, male size and female size (inferred from clutch size) were monitored over two breeding seasons. No pond isolation effects were found, indicating that C. signifera is randomly distributed throughout the forest landscape for up to 500 m around each permanent breeding site. Such patterns of forest habitat use indicate that management prescriptions should not only take into account the habitat characteristics of breeding sites but should also consider the surrounding terrestrial landscape. Ponds surrounded by unlogged forest were colonized almost two times faster than ponds surrounded by logged forest indicating that landscape modification can significantly alter amphibian mobility. These findings have consequences for total reproductive output especially in landscapes where breeding sites are highly variable and for species that are slow to colonize new breeding sites.

Citations Scopus - 5
2005 Lauck B, 'Can life history studies contribute to understanding the impacts of clearfell logging on pond breeding anurans? A review', Applied Herpetology, 2 125-137 (2005) [C1]
DOI 10.1163/1570754043492045
2005 Lauck B, Swain R, Barmuta L, 'Impacts of shading on larval traits of the frog Litoria ewingii in a commercial forest, Tasmania, Australia', JOURNAL OF HERPETOLOGY, 39 478-486 (2005) [C1]
DOI 10.1670/52-04A.1
Citations Scopus - 5Web of Science - 5
2005 Lauck B, Swain R, Bashford R, 'Seasonal activity patterns of the frog, Crinia signifera (Anura: myobatrachidae), in Southern Tasmania, Australia', Papers and Proceedings of the Royal Society of Tasmania Hobart, 139 29-32 (2005) [C1]
2004 Lauck B, 'Using aquatic funnel traps to determine relative density of amphibian larvae: Factors influencing trapping', Herpetological Review, 35 248-250 (2004)
Citations Scopus - 3
1999 Lauck B, Tyler MJ, 'Ilial shaft curvature: A novel osteological feature distinguishing two closely related species of Australian frogs', TRANSACTIONS OF THE ROYAL SOCIETY OF SOUTH AUSTRALIA, 123 151-152 (1999)
Citations Web of Science - 1
Show 10 more journal articles

Report (11 outputs)

Year Citation Altmetrics Link
2013 McBain B, Glasby A, Thompson J, 'Hunter-Central Rivers Catchment Action Plan 2013-2023: supporting information', Hunter-Central Rivers CMA, 300 (2013) [R1]
2013 McBain B, Glasby A, Thompson J, 'Hunter-Central Rivers Catchment Action Plan 2013-2023', Hunter-Central Rivers Catchment Management Authority, 124 (2013) [R1]
2013 McBain B, Glasby A, Thompson J, 'Hunter-Central Rivers Catchment Action Plan 2007-2017', Hunter-Central Rivers CMA, 65 (2013) [R1]
2011 McBain B, Lenzen M, Albrecht G, 'Advancing Ecological Footprints for Policy Development', State of Environment Reporting Australia, 223 (2011)
2007 McBain V, 'The Hunter-Central Rivers Catchment Action Plan 2006-2015', Hunter-Central Rivers CMA, 328 (2007)
2005 McBain V, 'Central Coast Catchment Blueprint - background documents', Central Coast Catchment Management Board, 178 (2005)
2005 McBain V, Wackernagel M, Lenzen M, Deumling D, 'The Ecological Footprint of Victoria', EPA Victoria, 77 (2005)
2003 McBain B, 'Inland Waters and Wetlands ¿ Water Quality', Resource Planning and Development Commission, Hobart, 3 (2003)
2001 McBain B, 'National Pollutant Inventory aggregate water pollution estimation for Tasmania', Department of Primary Industry, Water and Environment, Hobart, 117 (2001)
1996 Turner J, Lambert M, Lauck V, 'Water quality monitoring strategies for forest management: a case study at Bago State Forest. State Forests of NSW', State Forests of NSW, 25 (1996)
1993 Lauck V, Dillon P, Grams S, Shaw S, Hanna D, Boardman R, et al., 'A preliminary estimate of the water and solute balances of an effluent-irrigated plot in the HIAT Plantations, Bolivar, South Australia', CSIRO Centre for Groundwater Studies, 23 (1993)
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Grants and Funding

Summary

Number of grants 6
Total funding $771,532

Click on a grant title below to expand the full details for that specific grant.


20141 grants / $219,552

Learning and Teaching Academic Standards (LTAS): Environment and Environmental Sustainability – ID13-2819$219,552

Funding body: Office for Learning and Teaching

Funding body Office for Learning and Teaching
Project Team Doctor Liam Phelan, Doctor Bonnie McBain
Scheme Commissioned Strategic Projects
Role Investigator
Funding Start 2014
Funding Finish 2014
GNo G1301357
Type Of Funding Aust Competitive - Commonwealth
Category 1CS
UON Y

20064 grants / $549,980

Advancing the Ecological Footprint for Application to Policy Development$249,960

Funding body: Global Footprint Network

Funding body Global Footprint Network
Project Team Doctor Bonnie McBain, Dr Manfred Lenzen, Dr Mathis Wackernagel, Conjoint Professor Glenn Albrecht
Scheme Linkage Projects Partner funding
Role Lead
Funding Start 2006
Funding Finish 2006
GNo G0186956
Type Of Funding Other Public Sector - State
Category 2OPS
UON Y

Advancing the Ecological Footprint for Application to Policy Development$223,020

Funding body: ARC (Australian Research Council)

Funding body ARC (Australian Research Council)
Project Team Doctor Bonnie McBain, Dr Manfred Lenzen, Dr Mathis Wackernagel, Conjoint Professor Glenn Albrecht
Scheme Linkage Projects
Role Lead
Funding Start 2006
Funding Finish 2006
GNo G0186019
Type Of Funding Aust Competitive - Commonwealth
Category 1CS
UON Y

Advancing the Ecological Footprint for Application to Policy Development$62,000

Funding body: Department of Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population and Communities

Funding body Department of Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population and Communities
Project Team Doctor Bonnie McBain, Dr Manfred Lenzen, Dr Mathis Wackernagel, Conjoint Professor Glenn Albrecht
Scheme Linkage Projects Partner funding
Role Lead
Funding Start 2006
Funding Finish 2006
GNo G0186957
Type Of Funding Other Public Sector - Commonwealth
Category 2OPC
UON Y

Advancing the Ecological Footprint for Application to Policy Development$15,000

Funding body: State Forests of NSW

Funding body State Forests of NSW
Project Team Doctor Bonnie McBain, Dr Manfred Lenzen, Dr Mathis Wackernagel, Conjoint Professor Glenn Albrecht
Scheme Linkage Projects Partner funding
Role Lead
Funding Start 2006
Funding Finish 2006
GNo G0186955
Type Of Funding Other Public Sector - State
Category 2OPS
UON Y

20001 grants / $2,000

WARRA small projects research grant$2,000

Funding body: Forestry Tasmania

Funding body Forestry Tasmania
Project Team
Scheme Small Grants
Role Lead
Funding Start 2000
Funding Finish 2003
GNo
Type Of Funding External
Category EXTE
UON Y
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Dr Bonnie McBain

Positions

Conjoint Fellow
School of Environmental and Life Sciences
Faculty of Science and Information Technology

Web Learn Tutor Env & Life Sciences
School of Environmental and Life Sciences
Faculty of Science and Information Technology

Focus area

Geography and Environmental Studies

Contact Details

Email bonnie.mcbain@newcastle.edu.au
Phone (02) 4921 8871
Link UoN Blogs

Office

Room SR 182
Building Geography
Location Callaghan
University Drive
Callaghan, NSW 2308
Australia
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