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CMERC Team

Emma Jackson

Dr Emma Jackson - Interim Director - CMERC

Dr Emma Jackson is interim Director of the Coastal Marine Ecosystems Research Centre and a Research Fellow in Marine Ecology. She has 19 years of research expertise in the areas of fisheries ecology, seagrass landscape and restoration ecology, impacts on marine species, coastal marine habitats and ecosystem health indicators. Her research is driven by the idea that coastal development is an ever-increasing human activity, but that there are ways in which this development can work with nature rather than against it to maintain ecosystem health, in turn supporting our health and wellbeing as humans.

Currently Emma leads a research program on the construction of a science-based framework for seagrass restoration in Queensland, but her past and present research areas include marine conservation management, ecosystem services, marine ecology and marine angiosperm.


Associate Vice-Chancellor Owen Nevin

Professor Owen Nevin - Professor of Conservation Biology

Professor Nevin is an experienced conservation biologist and research leader. He received a BSc (Hons) in Biology and Ecology from the University of East Anglia (UK) and a PhD in Wildlife Ecology from Utah State University (USA).  Much of his research work has been focused around advancing the conservation of threatened species and their habitats through developing better management and understanding of behavior and ecosystem function, and human impacts including ecotourism and resource exploitation. In conducting this work, he has applied a combination of behavioural, spatial and economic tools to gain novel insights into population processes.  Techniques applied in these studies range from satellite telemetry and spatial modelling, through to remote camera trapping, genetic sampling, and direct ethological observation.

Professor Nevin is Independent Chair of the Port Curtis Integrated Monitoring Program and a Gladstone Healthy Harbour Partnership management committee member. He is a member of the IUCN’s Task Force on Rewilding, a Fellow of the Zoological Society of London, Life Member of the Society for Conservation Biology, and Associate Editor of Ursus. He holds an Honorary Professorship at the University of Cumbria.


Andrew Irving

Associate Professor Andrew Irving - Head of Department - Agriculture, Science & Environment

Andrew joined CQUniversity in 2013 as a senior lecturer specialising in marine and environmental ecology, evolution, experimental design, and statistical analysis. He is the Head of Department for Agriculture, Science & Environment; a research and teaching intensive department that prides itself on cross-disciplinary engagement among students, staff, and the community we serve. Andrew's research interests primarily focus on the ecology of marine habitats, particularly marine plants such as seagrass meadows, salt marshes, and kelp forests. How such habitats are maintained, how humans disrupt them, how they might recover naturally, and what humans can do to facilitate their recovery (e.g. through habitat restoration) are all central themes to his research.

He has published 37 international peer-reviewed manuscripts and four book chapters.


Nicole Flint

Dr Nicole Flint - Freshwater Ecologist

Dr Nicole Flint is a Research Fellow in the Department of Agriculture, Science and the Environment at CQUniversity and leads CQU’s research in the fields of aquatic ecology and ecotoxicology. She has worked for CQUniversity since 2011, researching primarily in the fields of monitoring, assessment and management of aquatic environments, environmental report cards and fisheries management. Originally a fish biologist, Nicole’s research now focuses more broadly on enhancing understanding and management of human impacts on aquatic species and ecosystems. She is particularly interested in the diverse waterways and land uses of her local Fitzroy region, and in the interactions between agriculture and the environment.

Nicole is the Science Leader for the Fitzroy Partnership for River Health and a member of the Partnership's Science Panel, providing scientific advice on the Fitzroy Basin Report Card. She is also a Category B (research) member of CQUniversity’s Animal Ethics Committee.


John Rolfe

Professor John Rolfe - Professor of Resource Economics

Professor John Rolfe is a resource economist who is Professor of Regional Economic Development in the School of Business and Law at CQUniversity Rockhampton, and a Fellow of the Academy of the Social Sciences in Australia.

John was one of the leaders of the 2013 and 2018 Great Barrier Reef Science Consensus Statements, and currently Chairs the Independent Science Panel for the Gladstone Healthy Harbour Partnership.

He was Editor-in-Chief of the Australian Journal of Agricultural and Resource Economics from 2013-17 and is President of the Australian Agricultural and Resource Economics Society in 2019.


Nathan Brooks-English

Dr Nathan Brooks-English - Senior Lecturer/Head of Course for Environmental Science

Throughout the career of Dr Nathan Brooks-English, the consistent theme of research has been the study of how environmental variables affect Earth-surface processes (climate, transport, etc.) and natural materials (biota, earth and water) over multiple scales of time and distance. Currently, he is using dendrochronology, stable isotopes, and ancient kauri pines of North Queensland to reconstruct past rainfall, as well as model the response of drought and floods to El Niño Southern Oscillation and other multidecadal climate phenomena (Indian Ocean Dipole, Pacific Decadal Oscillation).

In the past, he and his colleagues have investigated the link between ecophysiology, climate, and isotopic variation in the spines of columnar cactuses, including the tropical species Trichocereus pasacana in Bolivia. This research develops and explains a novel climate proxy that yields high-resolution information about plant ecology, water relations and past climate that will be useful in tropical and subtropical regions with few annually resolved and centuries-long terrestrial climate proxies.


Michael Hewson

Dr Michael Hewson - Environmental Geographer

Dr Michael Hewson is an environmental geographer, whose research revolves around earth monitoring using satellite remote sensing and Geographic Information Systems. A current research project documents satellite image analysis processes applied to varying climate koala habitat health.

Previous research projects include: numerical weather modelling of aerosol transport (environment, energy and health impacts); land surface temperature mapping; and land-use change mapping. His work also explores issues of weather and climate using spatial science techniques.

The prime motivation for Michael's academic interest is the Earth System Science imperative – the anthropogenic impact on the inter-connectedness of nature.


Amie Anastasi

Dr Amie Anastasi - Lecturer in Environmental Science

Amie’s research is focussed on understanding risk to the environment from natural and anthropogenic source pollutants. She specialises in the management, design and implementation of water quality monitoring and environmental risk assessment studies. Her research in this area has encompassed physical and chemical impacts of pollutants from urban, industrial, agricultural and geological sources. Amie has more than 12 years of research experience in ecotoxicology, chemistry and water quality. Amie has been involved with the Port Curtis Integrated Monitoring Program (PCIMP) since its inception in 2007 and is a member of the PCIMP Technical Sub-Committee.

Amie has authored numerous peer reviewed scientific publications and industry reports, while also maintaining a heavy university teaching schedule that allows her to expose students to current best-practice methodologies for the monitoring and management of aquatic environments. She is passionate about Central Queensland Ecosystems, and enjoys using science to inform sustainable use of local environments. Amie has a BSc (Chem), BBioMedSc (Hons) and a PhD.


Guy Carton

Dr Guy Carton - Senior Lecturer in Environmental Science

Dr Guy Carton’s research interests are highly varied and include aquaculture, conservation physiology, and sensory physiology and ecology. A central question to his research program is how aquatic organisms respond to unprecedented environmental change.

He employs a range of techniques to understand how aquatic animals respond to current and forecasted environmental changes. Of particular interest are increases in temperature (climate warming), and shortages in oxygen availability (hypoxia).

He is also interested in determining whether physiological attributes may differ between sub-populations of the same species. This research contributes to a knowledge base that is required to make informed future management decisions within a sustainability framework.


Anja Pabel

Dr Anja Pabel - Lecturer in Tourism

Dr Anja Pabel is a lecturer in tourism at CQUniversity in Cairns, Australia. Anja's research interests cover tourist behaviour and marine tourism. Her publication outputs relate mainly to the sustainability of coral reef tourism destinations and workforce issues in Australian reef tourism, including emotional labour and fatigue management. Her current research addresses how tourists perceive their coral reef experiences through activities such as snorkelling and scuba diving.

A core aim of her research is to better understand the benefits of coral reefs for local communities in terms of employment and leisure opportunities.


Jeremy De Valck

Dr Jeremy De Valck - Environmental Economist

Jeremy De Valck is a transdisciplinary environmental economist (PhD, KU Leuven, Belgium), with strong research interests in natural resource management (MSc NRM, Cranfield Uni., UK) and geographic information systems (MSc Bioscience Eng., Gembloux Agro-Bio Tech, Belgium). Jeremy applies non-market valuation techniques to the study of environmental assets, ecosystem services and biodiversity. Since joining CQUniversity in 2016, he has led or been involved in research projects related to the assessment of socio-cultural, economic and environmental impacts in the Great Barrier Reef region.

Jeremy's current research relates to the application of revealed and stated preference techniques to value the environment.


Ziyad Abunada

Dr Ziyad Abunada - Environmental Engineer

Dr Abunada obtained his PhD degree from Cambridge University, UK, in Civil and Environmental Engineering in sustainable remediation and contaminated land management. His PhD was part of the largest collaborative project between academia and industry in the form of the Soil Mix Remediation Technology (SMiRT) project. He has more than 12 years of industrial experience working on civil engineering and construction projects in developing countries. His research addresses civil and environmental engineering applications including project management, contaminated land and waste management, water and wastewater treatment materials and technologies, as well as engineering for sustainable development and decision support systems.

In 2017, Dr Abunada’s research was ranked first and awarded the best research prize by ISESCO in the theme of environmental management. He is also the winner of the best paper award during AINAC conference in 2012 in UAE. He is currently a member of the Institute of Civil Engineering (ICE) and Royal Society of Chemistry UK.


Mr Michael Thomson

Michael Thomson - Communications and Stakeholder Engagement

Michael Thomson works specifically with CQUniversity’s agriculture, environment and science teams to promote research and engage industry participants.

Prior to joining CQUniversity in 2016, Michael worked for 5½ years as a senior consultant for Australia’s largest agribusiness public relations agency, Cox Inall Communications, leading projects for clients including the Beef Australia expo, Meat & Livestock Australia, Woolworths, the Sheep CRC, Grains Research & Development Corporation, the Livestock Biosecurity Network, the Australian Animal Welfare Strategy, and RIRDC’s National Weeds Research Program.

His career began as a journalist, starting out as a cadet reporter in Sydney for NSW’s The Land newspaper. He later worked for titles including the Northern Star in Lismore, and for the Queensland Country Life based in Rockhampton, and progressed to roles including Fairfax Agricultural Media’s national political reporter based at Parliament House, Canberra, and national online editor for Fairfax’s FarmOnline group of news sites.


Alison Murdoch standing in front of a CQUniversity wall sign

Alison Murdoch - Business Manager

Alison has worked in various administrative roles throughout her career including medical, hospitality and education administration. Working for CQUniversity across a variety of divisions including research administration, Alison has undertaken two post graduate qualifications; a Graduate Certificate in Management (Distinction) and a Graduate Certificate in Authentic Leadership. Gaining extensive skills to be a resourceful, energetic and competent leader, she enjoys a challenge. Alison’s role is to oversee the establishment and administrative operations of the Centre, along with identifying and engaging strategic partners to create and extend collaboration, growing the Centre’s research capability.