UNSW Science welcomes the leading UNSW marine ecologist and former Pro Vice-Chancellor (Research) to the role of Dean of Science, which she commences today.

Professor Johnston has an exceptional research career as head of the UNSW Applied Marine and Estuarine Ecology Lab in the School of Biological, Earth and Environmental Sciences.

Her research group investigates the ecology of human impacts in marine systems, combining the diverse disciplines of ecology, microbiology and ecotoxicology to expand fundamental understanding and provide recommendations for management. Her research is conducted in such diverse field environments as Antarctica, the Great Barrier Reef and temperate Australian estuaries.

She has led major research projects for industry, government, the Australian Research Council and the Australian Antarctic Science Program. She was also the inaugural director of the Sydney Harbour Research Program at the Sydney Institute of Marine Science.

Professor Johnston said she was honoured to take on leadership of the Faculty of Science.

“UNSW Science is a living treasure and recognised nationally as a symbol of curiosity and creativity. I relish the opportunity to be given guardianship of this science powerhouse to help us grow in our discovery and our impact, and to inspire staff and students to even greater achievements,” she said.

“The 21st Century is a time of profound, science and technology-led global disruption and change. We have an unprecedented opportunity to play a key role in finding solutions to many of the challenges we face.”

Professor Johnston also paid tribute to Professor Peter Lovibond, who has been Acting Dean since March 2016, and who will return to his former position of Deputy Dean from today.

“I take this opportunity to offer my heartfelt thanks to Peter, who so expertly led the Faculty as Acting Dean,” Professor Johnston said.

“He worked thoughtfully and tirelessly, during a period of rapid change, to ensure the Faculty remained creative and strong. I am delighted that he has agreed to continue as Deputy Dean."

Professor Johnston studied science at the University of Melbourne, graduating with a PhD in 2002, and was an Australia Research Fellow at UNSW from 2010-2014. Her research has been recognised with numerous awards, including the inaugural Australian Academy of Science Nancy Millis Medal for Women in Science (2014), the NSW Science and Engineering Award for Excellence in Biological Sciences (2012) and the Hynes Award from the Canadian Rivers Institute (2016).

Professor Johnston is also a high-profile science communicator, winning the 2015 Eureka Prize for Promoting Understanding of Australian Science Research. She is a regular media commentator and, as co-presenter for the Foxtel/BBC television series, Coast Australia, has helped take Australian marine science to an international audience.

As President-Elect of Science and Technology Australia, Professor Johnston is also a public advocate for science and for increasing the participation of women in research.

She was appointed Pro Vice-Chancellor (Research) at UNSW in May 2016.