Sydney Harbour Research Program Staff

A/Prof Paul Gribben – Director


I am fundamentally interested in the ecology of marine invertebrates and seaweed, the sustainable use of aquatic resources and issues regarding aquatic pests. I use of both applied and fundamental research to help inform conservation strategies. My research is conducted across a wide range of coastal ecosystems including intertidal and subtidal rocky shores, mangrove forests, seagrasses, and estuaries. A major component of my current research integrates often disparate research fields such as community ecology, life-history theory, behavioral ecology, chemical ecology, larval and recruitment, and reproductive ecology to provide a holistic understanding of how marine communities respond to environmental change. I am using this approach to investigate impacts and spread of invasive species, how coastal pollution affects coastal ecosystems and the development of sustainable invertebrate aquaculture and fisheries. I collaborate closely with plant physiologists, microbial ecologists, evolutionary ecologists, ecotoxicologists and biogeochemists.

I completed my PhD in 2003 at the University of Auckland, New Zealand, before taking up an interactional Post-Doctoral Fellowship at Centre for Bio-Innovation (CMB), University of New South Wales (UNSW Australia). I am currently a Australian Research Council Future Fellow. I was a core founder of the Sydney Harbour Research Program, and as Deputy Director I am an active member of the Program and SIMS.

My research is published across a diverse range fields including Ecology, Fisheries and Aquaculture, and Environmental Policy. I maintain close ties with government agencies such as New South Wales Department of Primary Industries and the Office for Environment and Heritage to promote the transfer of information to coastal managers and aid the develop coastal management strategies. My research students work on a broad range of environmental issues such as the effects of coastal pollution and invasive species on the resilience of marine ecosystems and biodiversity.

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Dr William Figueira – Deputy Director


My research spans a diverse range of topics within the area of fish ecology and fishery dynamics and management. I conduct field and lab studies on the behavior and demographics of reef fishes in tropical and temperate habitats with a strong focus on factors driving local and large scale metapopulation dynamics and how these interact to affect distributional range shifts in response to climate change. Much of my work is highly quantitative and includes biophysical transport modeling to understand metapopulation connectivity and source-sink dynamics as well as statisticalmodeling to evaluate factors driving larval supply to coastal reefs from near and off shore oceanographic features. I also conduct research in the area of recreational fishery assessment and management as well as marine park design, monitoring and effectiveness.

I completed my PhD in 2003 at Duke University in the USA and held a post doctoral research position there for 1 year before moving to the University of Technology, Sydney in 2004 to take up a post doctoral position. In 2009 I took up a position at the University of Sydney where I am currently a senior lecturer. I supervise a diverse range of students, post-docs and technicians and publish results in a variety of high impact international peer reviewed journals.

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Dr Katherine Dafforn – Deputy Director


My research explores human impacts on marine communities and I have been investigating the marine life in Sydney Harbour for over 10 years. I have worked extensively on developing sensitive indicators of ecosystem health and have published broadly on the topic of pollution biomonitoring. Most recently I have been investigating the potential to incorporate ecological ideas into the design of engineered marine structures such as seawalls. I do this to provide sustainable building solutions to developers and managers for enhancing urban marine ecosystems.

I am enthusiastic about science communication. I publish regularly in media outlets such as The Conversation and am an avid tweeter. For this I recently received a Young Tall Poppy Science Award for science excellence and community engagement.

I completed my PhD in 2010 at the University of New South Wales, Sydney before beginning a post doctoral research position within the Applied Marine and Estuarine Ecology (AMEE) Lab at UNSW Sydney. I recently took on the role of Co-Director for the AMEE Lab and have been actively involved in the Sydney Harbour Research Program since it’s inception.

Email Dr Katherine Dafforn

Link to Katherine Dafforn research webpage and twitter @DrKDafforn