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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).

Qualifications

  • PhD, University of Tasmania, 06/08/2005
  • Bachelor of Applied Science (Environment Sc)(Hons), Charles Sturt University, 10/05/1995
  • Bachelor of Applied Science (Environmental Science, Charles Sturt University, 01/04/1993

Research

Research keywords

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

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.

Languages

  • German

Fields of Research

CodeDescriptionPercentage
050200Environmental Science And Management40
160507Environment Policy30
120504Land Use And Environmental Planning30

Appointments

Fellowship APDI
Australian Research Council (Australia)
01/06/2007 - 01/01/2011

Awards

Teaching Award

2013Online Teacher of the Year Award
Newcastle Postgraduate Students’ Association’s (NUPSA) (Australia)
award is nominated by postgraduate students in any of University of Newcastle’s 60 online postgraduate coursework programs
2013Sessional Academic of the Year
Faculty of Science and Information Technology (Australia)
FSCIT Faculty Staff Excellence Award

Invitations

Expert Group Meeting on Sustainability of Economic Growth, Resource Efficiency and Resilience
United Nations Economic & Social Commission for the Asia Pacific , Thailand (Invited Presenter)
2008
The Centre for Business Relationships Accountability, Sustainability & Society (BRASS)
University of Cardiff, United Kingdom (Distinguished Visitor)
2008
Hunter Transport & Logistics Forum
Hunter Transport & Logistics , Australia (Invited Presenter)
2008
Centre for Urban & Regional Studies
University of Newcastle, Australia (Invited Presenter)
2009
Forests NSW Research Seminar Series
Forest Corp, Australia (Invited Presenter)
2011
Stockholm Environment Institute
University of York, United Kingdom (Invited Presenter)
2008

Teaching

Teaching keywords

  • complexity
  • ecosystem health
  • environmental management
  • participatory decision making
  • resilience

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.

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Publications

For publications that are currently unpublished or in-press, details are shown in italics.

Click on a category title below to expand the list of citations for that specific category.

Journal article (13 outputs)

YearCitationAltmetricsLink
2012Lenzen M, McBain V, 'Using tensor calculus for scenario modelling', Environmental Modelling and Software, 37 41-54 (2012) [C1]
2006Lauck B, 'Fluctuating asymmetry of the frog Crinia signifera in response to logging', WILDLIFE RESEARCH, 33 313-320 (2006) [C1]
2006Baker S, Lauck B, 'Association of common brown froglets, Crinia signifera, with clearcut forest edges in Tasmania, Australia', WILDLIFE RESEARCH, 33 29-34 (2006) [C1]
2005Lauck 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]
2005Lauck 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]
2005Lauck 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]
2005Lauck 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]
2005Lauck 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]
2005Lauck 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]
2005Lauck 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]
2005Lauck B, 'Life history of the frog Crinia signifera in Tasmania, Australia', AUSTRALIAN JOURNAL OF ZOOLOGY, 53 21-27 (2005) [C1]
2004Lauck B, 'Using aquatic funnel traps to determine relative density of amphibian larvae: Factors influencing trapping', Herpetological Review, 35 248-250 (2004)
1999Lauck 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)
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Report (11 outputs)

YearCitationAltmetricsLink
2013McBain B, Glasby A, Thompson J, 'Hunter-Central Rivers Catchment Action Plan 2013-2023', Hunter-Central Rivers Catchment Management Authority, 124 (2013) [R1]
2013McBain B, Glasby A, Thompson J, 'Hunter-Central Rivers Catchment Action Plan 2013-2023: supporting information', Hunter-Central Rivers CMA, 300 (2013) [R1]
2013McBain B, Glasby A, Thompson J, 'Hunter-Central Rivers Catchment Action Plan 2007-2017', Hunter-Central Rivers CMA, 65 (2013) [R1]
2011McBain B, Lenzen M, Albrecht G, 'Advancing Ecological Footprints for Policy Development', State of Environment Reporting Australia, 223 (2011)
2007McBain V, 'The Hunter-Central Rivers Catchment Action Plan 2006-2015', Hunter-Central Rivers CMA, 328 (2007)
2005McBain V, Wackernagel M, Lenzen M, Deumling D, 'The Ecological Footprint of Victoria', EPA Victoria, 77 (2005)
2005McBain V, 'Central Coast Catchment Blueprint - background documents', Central Coast Catchment Management Board, 178 (2005)
2003McBain B, 'Inland Waters and Wetlands ¿ Water Quality', Resource Planning and Development Commission, Hobart, 3 (2003)
2001McBain B, 'National Pollutant Inventory aggregate water pollution estimation for Tasmania', Department of Primary Industry, Water and Environment, Hobart, 117 (2001)
1996Turner 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)
1993Lauck 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 grants6
Total funding$771,532

- Indicates that the researcher may be seeking students for this project.

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

2014 (1 grants)

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

Project Team
Doctor Liam Phelan, Doctor Bonnie McBain
SchemeRole
Commissioned Strategic ProjectsInvestigator
Total AmountFunding StartFunding Finish
$219,55220142014
GNo:G1301357

2006 (4 grants)

Advancing the Ecological Footprint for Application to Policy Development$249,960
Funding Body: Global Footprint Network

Project Team
Doctor Bonnie McBain, Dr Manfred Lenzen, Dr Mathis Wackernagel, Conjoint Professor Glenn Albrecht
SchemeRole
Linkage Projects Partner fundingChief Investigator
Total AmountFunding StartFunding Finish
$249,96020062008
GNo:G0186956

Advancing the Ecological Footprint for Application to Policy Development$223,020
Funding Body: ARC (Australian Research Council)

Project Team
Doctor Bonnie McBain, Dr Manfred Lenzen, Dr Mathis Wackernagel, Conjoint Professor Glenn Albrecht
SchemeRole
Linkage ProjectsChief Investigator
Total AmountFunding StartFunding Finish
$223,02020062009
GNo:G0186019

Advancing the Ecological Footprint for Application to Policy Development$62,000
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
SchemeRole
Linkage Projects Partner fundingChief Investigator
Total AmountFunding StartFunding Finish
$62,00020062008
GNo:G0186957

Advancing the Ecological Footprint for Application to Policy Development$15,000
Funding Body: State Forests of NSW

Project Team
Doctor Bonnie McBain, Dr Manfred Lenzen, Dr Mathis Wackernagel, Conjoint Professor Glenn Albrecht
SchemeRole
Linkage Projects Partner fundingChief Investigator
Total AmountFunding StartFunding Finish
$15,00020062008
GNo:G0186955

2000 (1 grants)

WARRA small projects research grant$2,000
Funding Body: Forestry Tasmania

SchemeRole
Small GrantsChief Investigator
Total AmountFunding StartFunding Finish
$2,00020002003
GNo:183423463
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Research Supervision

Number of current supervisions0

No Supervisions.

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Dr Veronica (Bonnie) McBain

Work Phone(02) 4921 8871
Email
PositionsConjoint Fellow
School of Environmental and Life Sciences
Faculty of Science and Information Technology
The University of Newcastle, Australia
Web Learn Tutor Env & Life Sciences
School of Environmental and Life Sciences
Faculty of Science and Information Technology
The University of Newcastle, Australia
Project Leader
School of Environmental and Life Sciences
Faculty of Science and Information Technology
The University of Newcastle, Australia
Focus AreaGeography and Environmental Studies
Office
SR 182,
Geography,
Callaghan
University Drive
Callaghan NSW 2308
Australia
URL:www.newcastle.edu.au/profile/bonnie-mcbain