The University of Newcastle, Australia

Researchers

Associate Professor Bill Leggat

Associate Professor
School of Environmental and Life Sciences

A/Prof Leggat heads the Symbiosis Genomics Group in the Discipline of Environmental Sciences and Management, which focuses on understanding the transcriptome and metabolome of the eukaryotic microbe Symbiodinium, their coral host and associated bacterial. His research aims to link transcriptional, proteomic and metabolomic changes in this holobiont to environmental change. Other research interest areas include anthropogenic impacts, ecological impacts of climate change, coral, and zooxanthellae.

Professor Brett Neilan

Professor and Global Innovation Chair (Biotechnology)
School of Environmental and Life Sciences

Professor Neilan is an expert in molecular microbiology, genetic and genomic engineering, microbial chemistry and researches unexplored microorganisms. Professor Neilan is changing long held perspectives on naturally occurring toxins. Saxitoxin, which is found in shellfish, is known to cause fatal paralysis however, acts as an effective painkiller in the right dose. Professor Neilan’s team also investigate microbial communities and water quality in degraded ecosystems, Darling River toxic algal blooms and fish kills, and water quality in drinking water storages after bushfires in catchments.

Associate Professor Matthew Hayward

Associate Professor
School of Environmental and Life Sciences

A/Prof Hayward is an ecologist with a strong focus on conservation ecology with research expertise in the conservation ecology of threatened species, the factors that threaten them and the methods to effectively conserve them. Other research interests include predator-prey interactions, reintroduction biology, population dynamics, spatial ecology, conservation management, effectiveness and status assessments. A/Prof Hayward has been involved with several Australian threatened species recovery teams.

Associate Professor John Clulow

Associate Professor
School of Environmental and Life Sciences

A/Prof Clulow’s research expertise lies within two primary areas; conservation biology and reproductive biology. His focus on reproductive biology has led him to develop procedures to cryopreserve amphibian sperm, eggs and embryos. Through this research he aims to ultimately contribute the required technologies to allow the establishment and functioning of an amphibian genome storage bank, that can act as a conservation management tool and insure amphibian species against extinction in the wild.

Dr Troy Gaston

Senior Lecturer
School of Environmental and Life Sciences

Dr Gaston’s research focuses on the development of environmental monitoring programs addressing water quality, ecosystem health and ecosystem processes, understanding trophic interactions, tracking nutrient sources, elucidating food webs and stable isotope analysis in benthic, planktonic and pelagic estuarine and coastal systems. He also researches quantifying anthropogenic disturbances on estuarine and coastal ecosystems, and novel bycatch reduction methods in prawn trawl fisheries.

Dr Megan Huggett

Lecturer
School of Environmental and Life Sciences

Dr Huggett’s research focuses on the biodiversity and function of microbes in marine and coastal ecosystems in understanding the role of microbes as marine invertebrate larval settlement cues in fish guts, and across both benthic microbial ecology and bacterioplankton dynamics. To address these topics, Dr Huggett’s research aims to understand baseline healthy ecosystem interactions, and how these are impacted by environmental change. Dr Huggett also works on technologies for monitoring water quality and ecosystem health, developing molecular methods for tracking faecal contamination affecting local councils.

Dr Maria Schreider

Lecturer
School of Environmental and Life Sciences

Dr Schreider is a marine ecologist with broad interests in the ecology of estuarine habitats and studies effects of anthropogenic impacts in estuaries, particularly epifaunal assemblages in seagrasses. Recent research has focused on ecological effects of invasive species in estuaries and on the dynamics of algal blooms in small coastal lagoons. Dr Schreider is also studying population ecology of ghost shrimp with the view of their potential use for aquaculture.

Dr Danielle Verdon-Kidd

Senior Lecturer
School of Environmental and Life Sciences

Dr Verdon-Kidd is a hydroclimatologist with research primarily focusing on the drivers of climate variability and change in Australia and the Pacific, investigating how to use these insights to improve natural resource management, particularly with respect to water availability. From small consulting teams through to Federal Government, Dr Verdon-Kidd’s climate expertise has been applied to inform water-based resource and environment management systems. Most recent research includes testing the ability of mangroves to hold a climate history in their tree ring network.

Dr Margaret Platell

Web Learn Tutor Env & Life Sciences
School of Environmental and Life Sciences

Dr Platell is a marine ecologist with expertise in the functional ecology of fish and invertebrates in marine, estuarine and freshwater environments to understand potential human impacts including fishing, fish stocking and aquaculture activities. Dr Platell has an advanced understanding of resource partitioning among demersal fishes in coastal Australian waters, production of an innovative food web for those fishes, role of saltmarshes in providing fish habitat and promotic tropic relay from estuaries, and ecological function of coastal wetlands and fish kills.

Dr Vincent Raoult

Post Doctoral Researcher
School of Environmental and Life Sciences

Dr Raoult is a marine ecologist with a broad interest in marine processes. As an expert with the use of stable isotopes as an ecological tool, Vincent has used novel approaches to examine ecological interactions from species to ecosystems. He is strongly interested in fisheries management with a particular focus on sharks and rays. With experience in a variety of marine environments, from estuaries to coral reefs and remote seas, Dr Raoult strives to develop novel methodologies to answer or improve on numerous research issues using cutting-edge technologies.

Dr Tim Smith

Casual Senior Research Assistant
School of Environmental and Life Sciences

Dr Smith is a marine ecologist with research interests in connectivity and resilience in marine ecosystems and the impacts of climate change. His work has predominantly focused on seagrass habitat and has recently expanded to include estuarine and mangrove systems. Dr Smith’s current projects include the impacts of herbivory and climate change on seagrass habitats, the role of nutrients in estuarine systems, trophic interactions in fisheries species and improving aquaculture farming methods.

Dr Hannah Power

Senior Lecturer
School of Environmental and Life Sciences

Dr Power’s research focuses primarily on the study of coastal processes and the geomorphology of sandy beaches, investigating how ocean waves behave and affect the movement of sediment. This underpins the effective management of sustainable coastal environments, through predicting beach erosion and anticipating how beaches change with time. Dr Power’s research also informs tsunami evacuation systems.

Dr Andrea Griffin

Senior Lecturer
School of Psychology

Dr Griffin is an expert in predator response and adaptive learning in both animals and humans. Dr Griffin is currently exploring new knowledge on the behaviour and biology of invasive species and the reasons behind their ecological success, specifically investigating the impact of the Common Myna bird in Australia. Her unique combination of captive and field methodologies places her as a recognised international leader in her field.

Dr Anita Chalmers

Lecturer
School of Environmental and Life Sciences

Dr Chalmers is a botanist with research interests in improving the conservation and management of vegetation by understanding its response to natural and human disturbances. She has experience in a number of different terrestrial ecosystems and has worked on many different threatened plant species and endangered communities. Dr Chalmers is currently working on the riparian and wetland vegetation of the Hunter and collaborating with the Office of Environment & Heritage on an endangered montane wetland and swamp and a threatened plant in Barrington Tops.

Dr Kaya Klop-Toker

Postdoctoral Scientist/Casual Academic
School of Environmental and Life Sciences|School of Environmental and Life Sciences

Kaya is a postdoctoral scientist currently working on a new conservation initiative that will help secure the long-term survival of five threatened frog species in New South Wales, including the stuttering frog, Littlejohn’s tree frog, Davies’ tree frog, glandular tree frog and the giant burrowing frog. The project is combining conservation science with citizen science to measure the frogs’ response to multiple threats, including water pollution, invasive fish and the fungal disease chytrid.

Dr Alex Callen

Postdoctoral Researcher
School of Environmental and Life Sciences

Dr Callen is a postdoctoral research ecologist with research interests in the fields of conservation biology and ecology, particularly in applied research related to habitat manipulation and restoration and the success of animal reintroductions to these areas. Dr Callen is particularly interested in using habitat manipulations to mitigate against novel wildlife diseases that are host-generalist and therefore remain prevalent in the environment.

Dr Ryan Witt

Casual Academic
School of Environmental and Life Sciences

Dr Witt is a wildlife conservation scientist specialising in marsupial reproduction, reproductive technologies and marsupial ecology. His research interests include developing local and regional conservation projects for at-risk koala and marsupial populations in the Hunter Region, with an aim to deliver grassroots conservation research of national and international benefit. Dr Witt is dedicated to developing a conservation research project to ensure the regions key koala population remains functional.

Dr Geoffrey MacFarlane

Senior Lecturer
School of Environmental and Life Sciences

Dr Geoff MacFarlane is an aquatic toxicologist focussing on estuarine and marine environments. He is interested in monitoring contaminants in marine environments and assessing impacts on biota. His research interests include assessment of the effects of metals on estuarine plant and invertebrate community health. He also has expertise in endocrine disruption, with research examining the effects of environmental estrogens on marine invertebrate communities.