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Earth, environmental and biological sciences


Our research aims to tackle real-world challenges that affect the safety and security of all Australians, by investigating and solving problems ranging from food security to climate change-related environmental issues.

Research disciplines

We're improving the disease resistance, stress tolerance and nutritional status of a range of crops through our strength in plant biotechnology.

We have also achieved insights into the importance of volcanic eruptions to biomigration, and our researchers are investigating the ecology of the Great Barrier Reef hard corals. We are examining the status of global water resources, and we have discovered a new marsupial species.

A number of our expert researchers are delivering capability into the multidisciplinary teams at QUT's Institute for Future Environments (IFE), exploring issues like feeding the world's booming population, managing scarce natural resources, and reducing our carbon footprint.


Evidence of research quality

ERA (Excellence in Research for Australia) 2015 scores:

  • 5 (well above world standard) -
    • Agricultural biotechnology (FOR 1001)
  • 4 (above world standard) -
    • Environmental Science and Management (FOR 0502)
    • Evolutionary Biology (FOR 0603)
  • 3 (at world standard) -
    • Microbiology (FOR 0605).

ERA (Excellence in Research for Australia) evaluates the quality of research undertaken in Australian universities against national and international benchmarks.

Publication output

Higher Education Research Data Collection (HERDC) publication collections 2012-2014 (HERDC points)

  • A1-Book: 2.500
  • B1-Book Chapter: 2.205
  • C1-Journal Article: 125.085
  • E1-Conference Paper: 27.566

Research income

HERDC Category 1-4


Centre for Tropical Crops and Biocommodities



Head of school

Biological sciences

Centre for Tropical Crops and Biocommodities

Earth sciences

Environmental systems


Grants and projects

(Category 1: Australian Competitive Grants only) 2009-2019.

ARC Discovery Early Career Researcher Award (DECRA)

  • Improving plant natural product yields and diversifying the products manufactured from plants
  • Understanding equine incretins: a novel approach to laminitis prevention

ARC Discovery Projects

  • Engineering the defence-vigour balance for increased crop yield
  • Environmental stress indicators in coral skeletons
  • Resolving the influence of intraplate orogenesis on continental margin tectonics
  • Geomolecular dating with biologically informed molecular clocks, and the evolution of mammals

ARC Future Fellowships

  • Resolving insect evolution

ARC Super Science Fellowships

  • Extreme expression: building a platform for industrial plant biotechnology

ARC Linkage Projects

  • Generation of bananas with resistance to Fusarium wilt

Additional Category 1 projects

  • Testing environmental stress on a dead Holocene coral reef in Moreton Bay, Queensland
  • Refined reservoir correction for radiocarbon dating of the Southern Great Barrier Reef based on U-series dated corals
  • A platform for the continuous genetic improvement of accepted cultivars of vegetatively propagated horticultural crops


Research collaboration network


  • AgBiTech
  • Arrow Energy Limited
  • Curtin University of Technology
  • Department of Agriculture and Food Western Australia
  • Department of Employment, Economic Development and Innovation
  • Geodynamics Ltd
  • Geological Solutions
  • Geological Survey of New South Wales
  • Geological Survey of Queensland
  • Geoscience Australia
  • Newcrest Mining Limited
  • NSW Department of Primary Industries
  • Queensland Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry
  • Queensland Department of Natural Resources and Mines
  • Queensland Department of Science, Information Technology, Innovation and the Arts
  • South Australian Research and Development Institute
  • The University of Melbourne
  • The University of Newcastle
  • The University of Queensland
  • The University of Sydney
  • The University of Western Australia
  • University of New South Wales


  • AgriFood Canada
  • Colorado State University
  • CRI AgResearch New Zealand
  • Exosect Limited
  • Helmholtz Centre Potsdam (GFZ)
  • INRA Institut National de la Recherche Agronomique
  • International Centre for Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology (New Delhi)
  • Kansas State University
  • Los Alamos National Laboratory
  • Schlumberger
  • Texas A&M University
  • University of Cape Town
  • University of Edinburgh
  • University of Florida
  • University of Missouri
  • University of Nebraska
  • United States Department of Agriculture
  • United States Geological Survey
  • Wageningen University and Research Centre
  • Yale University

Key research and engagement vehicles

  • Centre for Tropical Crops and Biocommodities
  • CRC for Spatial Information 2
  • Institute for Future Environments
  • Institute of Health and Biomedical Innovation
  • Plant Biosecurity CRC


Awards and recognition

  • ARC Laureate Fellow Professor Peter Waterhouse received $2.7 million to overcome a key barrier to future-proofing the world's crops. His project aims to fully understand how a plant's genes are distinguished, and to improve traits in harmony with the genome. Anticipated outcomes are safer, higher yielding and more sustainable crops.
  • Dr Andrew Baker and team have named two new species of dusky antechinus. One new species was discovered in remote, south-eastern Tasmania, and another mainland form was raised to species status.
  • Associate Professor Jennifer Firn was awarded a Citation for Outstanding Contribution to Student Learning through the Australian Awards for University Teaching.
  • Professor Tony Clarke, world-leading researcher in Australian fruit fly management, was awarded the 2014 Mackerras Medal by the Australian Entomological Society in recognition of his significant career and contribution to science.
  • Distinguished Professor James Dale, Director of the Centre for Tropical Crops and Biocommodities, was appointed a Fellow of the Academy of Technological Sciences and Engineering in 2014.


School of Earth, Environmental and Biological Sciences

  • Level 3, R Block, Room 302
    Gardens Point

Research degree enquiries

Science and Engineering research office

  • Level Level 4, O Block
    Gardens Point

Partnership enquiries

Research and Innovation

Contact for research partnership opportunities with our Science and Engineering Faculty.