Keynote Speakers

We are pleased to confirm the following keynote speakers at ESA 2023

Dr Steve Morton

Steve Morton is an Honorary Professorial Fellow with Charles Darwin University, Alice Springs. He is an ecologist who studied at the Universities of Melbourne, California and Sydney. He joined CSIRO in Alice Springs in 1984 to work in the desert environment that has long been his focus. From 2000 until 2010, based in Canberra and Melbourne, he helped lead CSIRO as Chief of Division and Executive Team member. His book, Australian Deserts: Ecology and Landscapes, appeared in 2022.

Dr Rachael Marshall

Accounting for Nature

Dr Rachael Marshall is General Manager of Accounting for Nature, and has over 15 years’ experience across public and private sectors in conservation research and management, environmental economics, governance, regulatory reform, and operational program delivery. She has a PhD in Marine Science and an overarching passion to apply science, economics, and practical thinking to the complex task of restoring and enhancing Australia’s natural capital through collaboration and decentralisation of historic areas of expertise.

Presentation title: Biodiversity on the balance sheet – guiding decision making and scaling up of nature finance to fund global restoration targets

Professor John Woinarski

Charles Darwin University

John Woinarski is a Professor of Conservation Biology at Charles Darwin University. He has had long involvement in conservation research, management and policy, with particular interests in northern Australia, threatened species, islands, extinctions, ethics and fire. Like all ecologists, he is fascinated with the way nature works and how the pieces fit together, haunted by its ongoing decline, and driven to try to enhance its conservation.

Professor Jeremy Russell-Smith

Centre for Bushfire Research, Charles Darwin University

Jeremy Russell-Smith has 40 years of experience researching savanna fire ecology, carbon market, ecosystem services, and associated livelihood opportunities for land managers and Indigenous (Aboriginal) communities in northern Australia and neighbouring countries. Over the past 20+ years he has been involved with ongoing development of Australian Government-regulated savanna burning greenhouse gas emissions abatement, and associated carbon sequestration, methods in northern Australia. In recent years he has been involved with the development of similar methodological approaches for application in fire-prone savannas in southern Africa, the Indo-Pacific and the Americas. He gained a PhD in 1986 from the Australian National University, Canberra. He holds the position of Professor of Fire Ecology at Charles Darwin University, Darwin. He has no inclination to retire.

Presentation title: Incentivising sustainable fire management in fire-prone savanna landscapes

Dr Adam Frew

Western Sydney University

ESA Next Generation Ecologist Award Presentation

Dr Adam Frew is a Lecturer and ARC DECRA Fellow at the Hawkesbury Institute for the Environment, Western Sydney University. He received his PhD from the same institution, followed by a research fellowship at Charles Sturt University. He later worked as a Lecturer at the University of Southern Queensland before re-joining the Hawkesbury Institute for the Environment in 2022.

Adam’s research focuses on various aspects of the ecology of arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi. Specifically, his work investigates their potential for sustainable agriculture, their effects on plant defences, and understanding how environmental factors shape these fungal communities. His overarching goal is to advance our understanding of the complex interactions between plants and fungi and to contribute to the development of more sustainable agricultural practices.

Professor Anne Poelina

ESA Indigenous Plenary

Professor Anne Poelina [PhD, PhD, MEd, MPH&TM, MA] Co-Chair Indigenous Studies and Senior Research Fellow Nulungu Institute Research University of Notre Dame, Chair Martuwarra Fitzroy River Council and Adjunct Professor, College of Indigenous Education Futures, Arts & Society, Charles Darwin University, Darwin. Poelina is the Murray Darling Basin (MDB) inaugural First Nations appointment to its independent Advisory Committee on Social, Economic and Environmental Sciences (2022). Member of Institute for Water Futures, Australian National University, Canberra. Awarded Kailisa Budevi Earth and Environment Award, International Women’s Day (2022). Ambassador for the Western Australian State Natural Rangelands Management (NRM) (2023). Awarded Laureate from the Women’s World Summit Foundation (Geneva, 2017). See:

Professor Philip Hulme

Lincoln University

NZ Te Tohu Taiao Award Winner presentation

Philip Hulme is the Distinguished Professor of Plant Biosecurity at Lincoln University, New Zealand and Director of the Centre for One-Biosecurity Research, Analysis and Synthesis (COBRAS). His research interests span the biosecurity continuum and addresses pathways of introduction, invasive species risk assessment, dispersal and spread as well as impacts on ecosystems, and designing effective management strategies. He has examined invasions in both aquatic and terrestrial ecosystems examining the invasion of New Zealand by fungal pathogens, weeds and mammals. He is keen to see a more integrated and transdisciplinary approach to invasion science under the umbrella of One Biosecurity.

Natasha Harrison

University of Western Australia

ESA Ecological Impact Award presentation (with Peter Lacey)

Tash is conservation biologist completing her final PhD year at the University of Western Australia. Her research is at the intersection between behavioural and population ecology, ultimately aiming toward improving strategic conservation planning for the effective management of Australia’s fauna, with a large focus on understanding the loss of anti-predator traits from havened mammals.

Peter Lacey

Department of Conservation Biodiversity and Attractions

ESA Ecological Impact Award presentation (with Natasha Harrison)

Peter Lacey is a Conservation Coordinator for the Wheatbelt Region, Parks and Wildlife Service, Department of Conservation Biodiversity and Attractions, WA, (DBCA). Peter has worked for DBCA based in Narrogin for the last 20 years. This has included developing and implementing landscape scale projects to protect fauna and flora threatened by fragmentation, invasive predators, herbivores and weeds, inappropriate fire, and human use impacts.

Dr Anna Richards


Dr Anna Richards is a plant and soil ecologist, senior research scientist and leader of the Ecosystem Dynamics team at CSIRO, based in Darwin. She has a broad interest in ecosystem management; particularly, how the science of vegetation and soil dynamics, along with land management practices, can be used to better monitor, evaluate, forecast and manage ecosystem condition.