ECO Antarctica

Antarctica is the most remote, coldest, driest and windiest continent on Earth; this makes it one of the harshest and most unique environments on the planet. The ECO Antarctica project will establish a network and a series of public events including a conference that will embark on deriving key research questions for implementation over the next decade to help protect Antarctica.

The ECO Antarctica project has established a new trans-Tasman network of Antarctic researchers with a wide range of expertise. These include marine and terrestrial ecologists, data scientists, environmental toxicologists, climate scientists and modellers, and experts in Antarctic and environmental law and policy.

In 2019, the team showcased the wonder and science of Antarctica in a public exhibition called Antarctic Footprints. This allowed the public to explore some of the challenges that Antarctica's coastal and near­ shore marine systems face.

This team has also begun drafting recommended protocols for uniformly monitoring and comparing terrestrial and marine zones for both climate and health of biodiversity around the coast of Antarctica. Collecting local climate and biodiversity data in a uniform way will contribute to science projects and national programs, resulting in informed conservation and environmental management throughout the Antarctic.


The team

This interdisciplinary project brings together researchers from the Faculties of Science, Medicine and Health, Social Sciences and Law, Humanities and the Arts.

  • Dr Melinda Waterman is an early career researcher from the School of Earth Atmosphere and Life Sciences (SEALS) within the Faculty of Science Medicine and Health (SMAH) at UOW, examining the secondary metabolites and protective mechanisms of Antarctic and temperate moss species. Melinda also has expertise in radiocarbon dating of long cores of moss shoots and photosynthetic pigments within plants. 
  • Distinguished Professor Sharon Robinson is a plant ecophysiologist from SEALS at UOW, with more than 20 years (13 Antarctic seasons) experience investigating impacts of climate change and the ozone hole on the Antarctic terrestrial ecosystems. Sharon is leader of the SCMZ Global Challenge. 
  • Dr Diana King is a Research Officer in SCMZ. Her research developing new methodologies to assess Antarctic terrestrial biodiversity health helps to inform the Department of Environment on best management practice for the Australian Antarctic Territory through the Australian State of the Environment reporting system.
  • Dr Zbyněk Malenovský is an ARC Future Fellow and member of the TerraLuma Group at University of Tasmania (UTAS). He is interested in the optical airborne and spaceborne imaging spectroscopy of vegetation, specifically plant stress responses and gross primary production.  
  • Associate Professor Arko Lucieer is the team leader of the Terraluma Group at UTAS. His research focuses on the use of UAS for quantitative remote sensing and high-precision aerial surveys for environmental and agricultural applications. 
  • Dr Dana Bergstrom is an applied Antarctic ecologist at the Australian Antarctic Division (AAD). Her research revolves around studying how Antarctic organisms and ecosystems work, identifying risks to these Antarctic ecosystems and finding solutions to mitigating such risks, especially in terrestrial ecosystems. 
  • Dr Jane Wasley is an environmental scientist for the Antarctic Conservation and Management Program at the AAD. She provides specialist technical expertise to the Australian Antarctic Program in support of research projects that aim to understand the effects of local and global human impacts on Antarctic and subantarctic biota.
  • Dr Laurence Clarke is a Molecular Ecologist with the ACE CRC and the Australian Antarctic Division Ecological Genetics group. He uses genetic approaches to study Southern Ocean and Antarctic ecosystems.   
  • Associate Professor Brogan Bunt is a media artist, currently exploring the aspects of writing, photography and lived action. He has produced multimedia logs for Antarctic cruise companies (2005-2007), new media art work focusing on fragmented video footage of Antarctic landscape – Ice Time (Faculty of Creative Arts Gallery, 2005), and digital prints of Antarctic Peninsula for ZeitBytes exhibition (2010, Project Contemporary Artspace). Current interests include contemporary artistic engagement with Antarctic landscape/politics. 
  • Dr Michael Ashcroft  is a mid- career researcher with expertise in microclimatic and species distribution modelling and a particular interest in climate change refugia. Michael is a Visiting Fellow in SEALS.  
  • Dr Johanna Turnbull is an early career plant ecophysiologist interested in stress ecophysiology, photosynthesis and plant responses to climate change. Johanna is a lecturer in SEALS. Johanna’s research focuses on Antarctic plant community responses to climate change and has been involved with long term monitoring of Antarctic mosses at Casey station, East Antarctica. 
  • Professor Pascal Perez is a world leader in participatory modelling of complex socio-technical systems and is from the SMART Infrastructure Facility at UOW. 
  • Dr Johan Barthelemy is from the SMART Infrastructure Facility 
  • Associate Professor Laurie Chisholm uses multi-scale spatial techniques to evaluate dynamics of plant physiological responses and the impact of disturbance events on ecosystems dynamics, and works within mixed- methods frameworks.
  • Dr Darren Koppel is a postdoc at University of Technology Sydney. Darren’s research aims to provide high quality toxicology data for use in the development of polar Water Quality Guidelines, and provide comparative data for the response of polar, temperate, and tropical species to metal contaminants. This information will assist in the refinement of models of aquatic toxicology. 
  • Dr Dianne Jolley is an environmental toxicologist and chemist, with 15 years experience investigating the mechanisms of contaminant toxicity in biological systems, and the development of tools to access and predict bioavailable contaminants.
  • Distinguished Professor Noel Cressie has published in the areas of goodness-of-fit, statistical modelling, empirical-Bayesian and Bayesian methods, remote sensing, and spatial and spatio-temporal statistics, including geostatistics. Noel is the Director of the Centre for Environmental Informatics in the National Institute for Applied Statistics Research Australia (NIASRA) at UOW. 
  • Dr Andrew Zammit-Mangion is a senior lecturer in NIASRA. His research interests lie in spatial and spatio-temporal modelling and the tools that enable it. 
  • Distinguished Professor Stuart Kaye has an extensive research interest in the law of the sea and international law. Stuart is Director and Professor of Law within the Australian National Centre for Ocean Resources and Security (ANCORS) at UOW. 
  • Professor Helen McGregor is paleoclimatologist who has made substantial advances in understanding civilisation’s most serious threats: global climate change, El Niño-Southern Oscillation, and human-climate-environment impacts. She works in the GeoQuEST Research Centre within SEALS at UOW. 
  • Shae Jones is a research assistant for ECO Antarctica and in SEALS. 
  • Krystal Randall is a PhD candidate from SEALS at UOW. Krystal is modelling and mapping ultra-fine scale microclimates of Antarctic moss beds from first principles, and examining the links between microclimate and moss health and productivity in Antarctica. 
  • Constance Johnson is an HDR student in the School of Law within the Faculty of Law Humanities and Arts. As a legal specialist at Australia’s Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, Constance worked on law of the sea issues including Australia’s submission to the Commission on the Limits of the Continental Shelf and the development of the liability annex to the Protocol on Environmental Protection to the Antarctic Treaty. Constance was also the inaugural manager of WWF-Australia’s Antarctic and Southern Ocean Initiative

This project includes a number of external participants from CSIRO, Auckland University of Technology, the University of Waikato, etc.


This project is working towards the UN Sustainable Development Goals:

Goal 11: Sustainable Cities and Communities.   Goal 12: Responsible consumption and production  Goal 13: Climate action   Goal 14: Life Below Water   Goal 15: Life on Land   Goal 17: Partnerships for the Goals