I am a geographer whose research examines human-environment relations, both conceptual and material. Since 2015, I have been Head of the School of Geography at the University of Melbourne. Our aim is to build a world-leading School in which both human and physical geography are strong and can collaborate to help meet pressing social and environmental challenges.
I came to this position from many years at the University of Wollongong where, from 2009-2014, I was an Australian Research Council (ARC) Australian Laureate Fellow and Director of the Australian Centre for Cultural Environmental Research (AUSCCER). Before that, from 2007-2009, I was Head of the School of Earth and Environmental Sciences. In 2005-06 I was King Carl XVI Gustaf Visiting Professor of Environmental Science, Kristianstad University, Sweden, and have been a Visiting Professor at the University of Gothenburg, Sweden (2012-14).
My research – focused on long term changes in the Australian landscape and the interactions of both prehistoric and contemporary peoples with these environments – has positioned me as an international leader in geographical debates about the relationship between humans and nature. My work has used concepts and analytical methods from physical geography, archaeology and cultural geography, meeting international standards of excellence across these three disciplinary areas. Central to my contributions is the concept – and challenge – of coming to terms with landscapes that have been peopled for many thousands of years. Paradoxically, although it is now widely understood that human influences pervade all Earth surface processes, ideals of pristine past landscapes without people continue to dominate environmental management. My scholarship focuses on first articulating, then finding ways to overcome, these contradictions. My theoretical contributions are grounded in the empirical find