Biology experts

Murdoch University’s biology experts cover a range of interest areas including biochemistry, genetics, physiology, micro-organisms, ecology, plants and animals, animal biology, environmental biology and microbiology.

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Joshua Smith

Dr Joshua Smith

Behaviour and habitat use of marine mammals in Australian waters

Joshua Smith is a postdoctoral researcher who works for the Murdoch University Cetacean Research Unit.

His main interests focus on the social and acoustic behaviour as well as the habitat use of marine mammals. His recent research has focused on the acoustic monitoring of coastal dolphins and developing distribution models for humpback whales in the Great Barrier Reef to identify mating and calving areas. He is also developing a risk assessment model to tackle ship strikes to humpbacks in the same area.

His previous research focused on the function of song in humpback whales by looking at the social interactions of singing and non-singing whales during their southward migration off the east coast of Australia.
David Morgan

Associate Professor David Morgan

Freshwater fish ecology

David Morgan is a Senior Research Leader of the Freshwater Fish Group & Fish Health Unit. He is one of Western Australia's leading experts on freshwater fish ecology.

He has discovered new species of fish in Western Australia, while his research focuses on the impacts of introduced fishes in our waterways, safeguarding endangered species and researching the ecology of W.A.'s unique fishes.

His research has taken him to most rivers in the Kimberley, Pilbara and south-west. Information on his numerous publications and research projects can be found at

Treena Burgess

Associate Professor Treena Burgess

Fungal genetics, forest biosecurity, forest pathology and natural ecosystem health

Dr Treena Burgess is an expert in molecular phylogenetics (population genetics) and fungal population genetics and an experienced forest pathologist, especially in biotic factors associated in tree decline.

She has research collaborations in Australia and world-wide in forest biosecurity, tree pathology, fungal genetics, Phytophthora (dieback) identification and genetics, fungal molecular taxonomy and the role of endophytes (a fungus that lives within a plant without causing disease) and latent pathogens in a changing climate.

Professor Neil Loneragan - Image

Professor Neil Loneragan

Marine and Estuarine Ecosystems, Fish and Fisheries Science

Neil Loneragan is the Director of the Centre for Fish and Fisheries Research and holds the inaugural Chair in Fisheries Science at Murdoch University.

In recent years Professor Loneragan has been researching ecosystem approaches to fisheries and cetacean populations, fisheries ecology and fisheries interactions with protected, threatened and endangered species.

Prior to joining Murdoch, Professor Loneragan spent nearly 15 years with CSIRO Marine and Atmospheric research, investigating the linkages between coastal habitats, fisheries production (particularly penaeid prawns) and biodiversity and stock enhancement.

His research in Australia, Malaysia and Papua New Guinea has provided the basis for major reviews of mangrove fishery linkages and stock enhancement, and major multi-disciplinary research projects in fisheries ecology and prawn stock enhancement.

He has published extensively in international journals and he has served on a variety of national and international committees for fisheries, marine ecosystems and stock enhancement.
Dr Nahiid Stephens - Image

Dr Nahiid Stephens

Health investigation in cetaceans

Dr Nahiid Stephens is based in the Anatomic Pathology Department within the School of Veterinary and Biomedical Sciences at Murdoch University.

Dr Stephens has an interest in marine mammal health investigation and conducts the post mortem and histopathological examination of cetaceans. Her latest work in this field as a team member of the Marine Mammal Health Project has been to support the WA Chief Scientist in advising the state government about the health of the Swan-Canning River and Peel-Leschenault dolphins following unusual mortalities in 2009.

Ralf Cord-Ruwisch

Dr Ralf Cord-Ruwisch

Wastewater and solid waste processing

Dr Ralf Cord-Ruwisch is both a hydrologist and microbiologist and has focused for more than 15 years on harnessing the power of microbes to assist with the processing of wastewater and solid waste.

His research interests have included nitrogen removal from wastewater, process modelling, microbial fuel cells for wastewater treatment, biological odour removal, thermodynamics and kinetics of reactions in aqueous systems, biofouling, microbial corrosion and methane production as a renewable energy source.

He has made significant discoveries (leading to several patents) in the role of microbes in removing contaminants from wastewater and soil and in soil solidification for the underground construction industry.

Dr Cord-Ruwisch has developed biological process simulation software to the water and mining industries and sophisticated process control technologies for the water industry.

He has also led the research into the biology of the Dicom process for conversion of municipal solid waste to energy currently being commercialised by Anaeco.

Lars Bejder

Professor Lars Bejder

Cetaceans (Whale and dolphin conservation and behaviour)

Professor Bejder analyses and develops quantitative methods to evaluate complex animal social structures and evaluates the  impact of human activity (coastal development, tourism, habitat degradation) on cetaceans. He also researches fundamental biology and ecology, such as assessing the  abundance and habitat use of marine wildlife.

He works closely with wildlife management agencies to optimise the conservation- and management outcomes of his research. He has advised on human impacts on cetaceans to the US Marine Mammal Commission, the US National Marine Fisheries Service, the International Whaling Commission, the Australian Federal Government, the Western Australian Department of Environment and Conservation and the New Zealand Department of Conservation.
Belinda Cannell

Dr Belinda Cannell

Threats to Little Penguins in Western Australia

Dr Belinda Cannell is a Research Associate at Murdoch University, and researches Little Penguin ecology and the threats they face in Western Australia.

She has been monitoring a Little Penguin colony on Garden Island since 2001 in order to set recommendations for its management.

Dr Cannell has also worked on related Little Penguin protection projects for the Department of Environment and Conservation.

Max Cake

Associate Professor Max Cake

Cell biology, biochemistry and endocrinology

Associate Professor Max Cake is an expert in developmental biochemistry, particularly of the liver and lung immediately prior to birth.

His research aims to explain the molecular mechanism and action of hormones and growth factors, by employing molecular and biochemical techniques as well as mammalian tissue culture.

Giles Hardy

Professor Giles Hardy

Forest pathology and natural ecosystems; ecosystem function and health

Professor Giles Hardy is an expert in forest pathology and natural ecosystems, in particular, how biotic and abiotic plant diseases impact on ecosystem function and health.

He has research collaborations in remote sensing, eco-hydrology, entomology, molecular plant pathology, plant physiology and nutrition, fungal genetics, microbiology, soil health, restoration ecology, and native fauna among others.

Professor Hardy is currently Director of the State Centre of Excellence on Climate Change, Woodland and Forest Health, and Director of the Centre for Phytophthora Science and Management.
Bob Mead

Associate Professor Bob Mead

Plant-derived toxins; biochemistry and molecular biology of disease states

Associate Professor Bob Mead is a metabolic biochemist and toxicologist.

He examines plant-derived toxins and the biochemistry and molecular biology of disease states. He also researches the molecular biology of disease states with hospital-based research teams.

Associate Professor Mead lectures in forensic toxicology, crime scene investigation and biochemistry.
Mike Van Keulen

Dr Mike van Keulen

Marine ecology and biological hydrodynamics; coral reef ecology; seagrass ecology

Dr Mike van Keulen is a marine ecologist with a broad range of interests including seagrass ecology, coral reef ecology and biological hydrodynamics. He is an expert in hydrodynamics of seagrass ecosystems, seagrass restoration and physiology. He also has interests in ecology and interactions of coral reef organisms.

As well as his expertise in marine plants, Dr van Keulen has research collaborations in a broad range of tropical marine topics, including invertebrate and vertebrate biology and wildlife ecology.

Dr van Keulen is currently Senior Lecturer in Plant Sciences & Marine Biology at Murdoch University as well as Director of the Coral Bay Research Station, which also operates out of Murdoch.

To reach these experts for media enquiries, contact:

Joanne Manning
Media & Communications Advisor
Phone: 08 9360 2474
Mobile: 0408 201 309
Pepita Smith
Media & Communications Advisor
Phone: 08 9360 1289
Mobile: 0417 171 551

For all other enquiries, please ring reception on 08 9360 6000.