Dr Catherine Leigh (Christie Fellows Lecture)

Cath is a quantitative community ecologist, scientific communicator and teacher, known for her research on rivers and reservoirs. Her research seeks to understand ecological responses to natural and human-induced changes in the environment and incorporates population- to ecosystem- level science to explore biodiversity patterns and dynamics and find innovative solutions to real world environmental problems. She finds fluctuating aquatic-terrestrial ecosystems, like intermittent rivers, fascinating, from both theoretical and applied ecology perspectives. She has played (done field work) in such rivers across the world, from far north Queensland, down to the Mount Lofty Ranges of South Australia, and across the oceans to Europe.

Cath received her PhD on the ecology of Australia’s wet-dry tropical rivers from Griffith University in 2009 and has been an active member of the Australian Rivers Institute for several years. She specialises in collaborative projects comprising national and international research, government and industry partners. She was the lead post-doctoral researcher for the international Intermittent River Biodiversity Synthesis and Analysis project (based at Irstea, France), and key participant in initiatives such as the ACIAR Improving the Sustainability of Rice-shrimp Farming Systems in the Mekong Delta, Vietnam project, the Australian National Water Commission Low Flows project, and the AusAID River Health and Environmental Flows in China project. She is currently a Senior Research Fellow at the ARC Centre of Excellence in Mathematics and Statistical Frontiers and the Institute for Future Environments at Queensland University of Technology.

Cath has contributed to over 30 journal articles, 6 invited book chapters, online databases, and multiple conference proceedings and technical reports. She regularly convenes special sessions and workshops at national and international conferences and at public outreach events. She served as Associate Editor for the 2016 special issue of the journal Freshwater Biology on intermittent river ecology and management, and serves as Secretary and Queensland Representative for the Australian Freshwater Sciences Society. She is the proud recipient of the 2017 AFSS Early Career Excellence Award, which she sees as firm recognition of the support, wisdom, and contribution of her fine supervisors and collaborators over the years. This award is for them!