Today is the United Nations’ World Environment Day. Celebrated in more than 100 countries, it promotes worldwide action to protect our environment. At UNSW Canberra, we’re celebrating our environmental scientists who are making a difference every day.


Dr David Paull – biogeography

Dr Paull's research spans biogeography, wildlife ecology and biological conservation. He’s interested in Australian mammals and is a bandicoot expert. As a geographer, he investigates the impact that feral species have on the land and is using drones to track erosion caused by brumbies in the Australian Alps.

“I’m monitoring about 30 different water courses through Kosciuszko National Park and just into Victoria and the headwaters of the Murray River,” Dr Paull said.


Dr Sophie Lewis – climate science


Dr Lewis is interested in weather extremes and how they are linked to climate change. She is working with scientists from across the world on a report that will serve as the internationally accepted framework for climate change action. 

“Often, in Australia particularly, we have a heatwave, or a bushfire, and people come out and say ‘well we can never link climate change to extremes’ – that’s just not the case anymore, that’s really old information,” Dr Lewis said.


Dr Isabel Jalón Rojas – oceanography


Dr Isabel Jalón Rojas is devising new methods of tracking debris in the ocean. She has already used these methods to track microplastics in Jervis Bay and shipping container spills off the coast of Port Stephens.

“We are working on a 3D model to track debris that moves vertically below the surface. If the tracking project is successful it could be applied to other incidents across the globe,” Dr Jalón Rojas said. “This could enable more efficient clean-up efforts.”


Associate Professor Jason Sharples and Dr Rachel Badlan – bushfires


Dr Sharples and Dr Badlan have found that the shape of a fire is an important factor in whether it is likely to turn into a firestorm. They are developing a model that will help firefighters decide which fres are more likely to develop into firestorms, which will help s0000ave properties and lives.

“Understanding fire behaviour and conditions of how a firestorm develops is critical to being able to predict when these events will occur,” Dr Badlan said.


Dr Adrian Garrido Sanchis and Professor Richard Pashley – chemistry


Dr Sanchis and Professor Pashley have developed an environmentally friendly, cost-effective method of sterilising water. The technology uses hot CO2, which considerably reduces the energy requirements when compared with boiling water.

“This new technology could become a new sterilisation technology candidate able to compete with the existing ones,” Dr Sanchis said.