Barbara Robson is a coastal biogeochemical modeller who has a particular interest in improving modelling practices and the links between modelling and observational science. She uses numerical models to predict how water quality and ecosystems will change in response to changes in land use, climate, or water management. In her current work, she is particularly interested in modelling to support policy and management of the Great Barrier Reef. Before joining AIMS in January 2018 and JCU as an Adjunct Associate Professor in August 2018, Dr Robson was with CSIRO for 15 years, where she led and contributed to multidisciplinary research efforts to facilitate policy and management of both marine and freshwater ecosystems around Australia. She was a key contributor to the development of the eReefs marine models for the Great Barrier Reef and was also (in her previous work at UWA) an early contributor to the development of the widely-used ELCOM-CAEDYM modelling suite. 

She is interested in hearing from qualified potential PhD students with a quantitative background and an interest in modelling tropical marine ecosystems and water quality.

  • Biogeochemical modelling
  • Ecosystem Modelling
  • the Great Barrier Reef
  • water quality
  • nitrogen and phosphorus cycles
  • modelling best practise
  • 2018 to present - Principle Research Scientist, Australian Institute of Marine Science (Townsville)
  • 2016 to 2017 - Research Group Leader, CSIRO (Canberra)
  • 2002 to 2017 - Research Scientist/Senior Research Scientist/Principle Research Scientist, CSIRO (Canberra)
  • 2008 to 2016 - Team Leader, CSIRO (Canberra)
  • 1999 to 2002 - Research Associate, UWA (Perth)
Research Disciplines
  • 2014 - Fellow of the International Environmental Modelling and Software Society (FiEMSS)
  • 2013 - Peter Cullen Trust Fellow
  • Association for the Sciences of Limnology and Oceanography
  • International Environmental Modelling and Software Society
  • Modelling and Simulational Society of Australia and New Zealand
  • Australian Marine Science Association
  • 2016 to 2018 - College of Assessors, New Zealand Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (Endeavour Fund and Smart Ideas Fund)
  • 2024 - Keynote speaker, Modelling and Simulation Society of Australia and New Zealand Water Quality Modelling Symposium
  • 2024 - Keynote speaker, International Environmental Modelling and Software Society conference
  • 2020 - Keynote speaker, Australian and New Zealand Industrial and Applied Mathematics Queensland AGM
  • 2019 - Occasional Address, UNSW@Canberra
  • 2019 - Keynote speaker at Australian Academy of Science and World Harbour Project Symposium, "Nutrient Cycling in Tropical Waters", Singapore
  • 2018 - Keynote speaker, 57th Estuarine and Coastal Shelf Association conference (ECSA57)
  • 2012 - Keynote speaker, Nutrient dynamics in riverine estuaries Symposium, UTS

These are the most recent publications associated with this author. To see a detailed profile of all publications stored at JCU, visit ResearchOnline@JCU. Hover over Altmetrics badges to see social impact.

Journal Articles

ResearchOnline@JCU stores 41+ research outputs authored by Dr Barbara Robson from 2011 onwards.

Current Funding

Current and recent Research Funding to JCU is shown by funding source and project.

Australian Government Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment - National Environment Science Program (NESP) - Total Water Quality (TWQ)

Reducing End-of-Catchment Fine Sediment Loads and Ecosystem Impacts

Indicative Funding
$23,910 over 1 year
A wide range of NESP TWQ Hub projects have focused on the source, transport, fate and impact of sediments on estuarine, coastal and reef ecosystems. These projects have responded to the Reef 2050 Plan water quality targets and Water Quality Improvement Plan aiming to reduce the loss of sediments from catchments to the marine environment. To better manage sediment losses and prioritise remedial actions, it is important to be able to understand and contextualise all of the issues that are involved in this sediment story, from managing catchment sources to defining which types of sediment cause the most harm in the marine environment. The synthesis report will include a list of gully prioritisation tools and sampling methods for detecting sediment and bioavailable nutrients. This project will provide a narrative and synthesis to bring all these threads together. Synthesis of this new knowledge will provide advice on practical on-ground actions for land and sea managers, policy implications and identify remaining gaps for future research and management investments.
Johanna Johnson, Stephen Lewis, Zoe Bainbridge, Catherine Collier, Rebecca Bartley, Andrew Brooks, Barbara Robson and Katharina Fabricius in collaboration with Rachael Smith, Alexandra Garzon-Garcia, Joanne Burton and Jane Waterhouse (Reef and Rainforest Research Centre, TropWater, Commonwealth Scientific & Industrial Research Organisation, Griffith University, Australian Institute of Marine Science, QLD Department of Environment and Science, C20 - Coasts, Climate and Oceans)
Sediment; Catchment; Great Barrier Reef; Ecosystem; gully

Advisory Accreditation: I can be on your Advisory Panel as a Primary or Secondary Advisor.

These Higher Degree Research projects are either current or by students who have completed their studies within the past 5 years at JCU. Linked titles show theses available within ResearchOnline@JCU.


The map shows research collaborations by institution from the past 7 years.
Note: Map points are indicative of the countries or states that institutions are associated with.

  • 5+ collaborations
  • 4 collaborations
  • 3 collaborations
  • 2 collaborations
  • 1 collaboration
  • Indicates the Tropics (Torrid Zone)

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