Environmental sciences

In ERA 2015, research in environmental sciences received the top rating of 5 – ‘outstanding performance well above world standard’ – for the discipline overall and was rated 5 for the sub-discipline research area of environmental science and management. Macquarie was also rated 4 – ‘performance above world standard’ – in the sub-discipline research area of ecological applications.

As a result, Macquarie is one of only two universities to be rated 5 for environmental sciences research in all three ERA evaluations.

University strengths

Macquarie’s environmental sciences research operates at the interdisciplinary interface between biological, Earth and environmental sciences, and social and policy implications. Research focuses on three key interrelated areas:

  • past and future evolution of river, coastal, desert and polar landscapes and environments
  • air and water pollution and waste management
  • human impacts on atmospheric, terrestrial and marine environments and policy and management responses.


The University’s strengths in environmental sciences are enhanced by the National Climate Change Adaptation Research Facility (NCCARF) of which it is a major partner. Climate change is a key focus but is not the sole area of high impact. For example, Macquarie environmental scientists lead the Australian Animal Tagging and Monitoring System (AATAMS), a component of the Integrated Marine Observing System (IMOS) supported through the National Collaborative Research Infrastructure Strategy (NCRIS). IMOS provides data to support research on many of the critical marine issues facing Australia.

Macquarie University research centres including Climate Futures, Genes to Geoscience and the Energy and Environmental Contaminants Research Centre, and the independent research centre Risk Frontiers, also facilitate research in this area.

In freshwater and aquatic environments, Macquarie’s expertise has contributed to the sustainable management of river catchments through eco-toxicological assessments and the River Styles initiative.


A major emphasis of research in the area of ecological applications is engagement with government, industry and community, resulting in important applications in policy input and development. Macquarie has built on its long-established base of research on climate change and its social and environmental impacts, to significantly expand climate-related research through a strategic alliance with biologists, social scientists, economists and others through Macquarie’s Climate Futures research centre.

This multidisciplinary research centre bridges the divide between climate and adaptation research, policy and practice needs, by serving as a hub for interactions between leading researchers, decision-makers, NGOs, businesses and vulnerable communities.


Accolades include:

  • Distinguished Professor Lesley Hughes (Eureka Prize)
  • Associate Professor Paul Beggs (Eureka Prize)
  • Associate Professor Melanie Bishop (Tall Poppy Science Award)
  • Associate Professor Kirstie Fryirs (Tall Poppy Science Award)
  • Dr Kira Westaway (Tall Poppy Science Award)
  • Emeritus Professor Alistair Gilmour (Fellow of the Australian Academy of Technological Sciences and Engineering).

Our environmental science researchers also serve on high profile national and international bodies including the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, UN Millennium Ecosystem Assessment, UN Convention on Biological Diversity, IUCN World Commission on Protected Areas, IUCN Commission on Education and Communication, UN Environment Programme, International Energy Agency Expert Group on Mercury Emissions from Coal, and UN Environment Programme Expert Group advising on Minamata convention on mercury.

National research centres

National Climate Change Adaptation Research Facility (NCCARF)

  • Distinguished Professor Lesley Hughes 
  • lesley.hughes@mq.edu.au
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