Research Group

Environmental Water Science

Water is a basic component of human existence and the support system on which people and ecosystems depend. The academics in this research group study its importance to ecosystems and humans, its use and management as a resource, and its modification through contamination and pollution.

The group has two main objectives:

  1. To undertake researchon the quantity and quality aspects of water and wastewater systems with specific focus on the environmental impacts of decentralized infrastructure planning such as:
  2. rainwater tank systems
  3. on-site waste treatment systems such as constructed wetlands, health of natural wetland habitats, catchment runoff and urban water quality
  4. transport of contaminants through soil and the unsaturated zone
  5. and monitoring strategies to further evaluate the impact of contaminants in rivers, estuaries and lake systems
  6. To examine theeffects of pollutants on estuarine and marine biota, and their biological response to pollutant stressors. As well as ecotoxicology and approaches to remediating aquatic contamination, the group is also interested in the physiology of aquatic organisms and the ecology of estuarine and marine environments.

To meet these objectives the group uses a variety of field monitoring instruments and has access to chemical and biological instrumentation in modern laboratories for water and specimen assays. 

Techniques used include chromatography & spectrometry including PCR analysis, metal assay and faecal sterol analysis and faunal identification and enumeration.

Instrumentation includes GC-MS, ICP-MS, ESI-MS, X-ray diffraction, electron diffraction, NMR, real-time PCR system, and flow-through respirometry. 


A number of external funding partners have been involved in the group's research projects including:

  • The Australian Research Council (Linkage and Discovery)
  • Hunter Water Corporation
  • NSW Government Departments (Primary Industries, Environment, Climate Change and Water)
  • Port Stephens Council
  • Lake Macquarie Council
  • Tom Farrell Institute for the Environment
  • Bluescope Steel
  • Newcastle Innovation


Members of the group have been very successful in gaining nationally competitive research grants and industry funding.

The research has resulted in numerous publications in high impact journals ranging in specialisation from chemistry and biochemistry to applied environmental science and toxicology.

Group members

Prof Hugh Dunstan
Prof Joseph Bidwell
Prof Tim Roberts
A/Prof Phillip Geary
Dr Anita Chalmers
Dr Charles Lee
Dr Craig Evans
Dr Geoff MacFarlane
Dr Richard Yu