Cassandra is a palaeoecologist and palynologist with experience working across northern Australia, Britain, Papua New Guinea and Southeast Asia. Her research focusses on long-term environmental dynamics and human-environmental relationships within monsoonal regions, understanding vegetation composition, distribution and change with emphasis on tropical-savanna landscapes, dry-rainforest associations and island flora. The application of environmental history to ecosystem management is an additional committment. Cassandra’s interests have been pursued in collaboration with archaeological science and Earth-system modelling, and are complemented by work in research support-tool database developments.

Cassandra joined JCU in 2014 having previously worked at a number of academic institutions, and with a background collaborating with museums, conservation NGOs and Indigenous organisations. Additional experience includes contract research in industry within Australia and overseas. Cassandra is based within the College of Science and Engineering (GeoScience), and forms part of the ARC Centre of Excellence for Australian Biodiversity and Heritage, and ‘What is natural? Humans, megafauna and climate in northern Australia’ research teams. For further examples of project work refer to the Earth systems science QUEST and BRIDGE programs, the pollen database APSA, Jawoyn Homeland Project Connecting Country, and the Maritime Settlement of Southern New Guinea Project (Archaeology of Caution Bay).


  • EA2404: Earth's Climate: Past, Present and Future (Level 2; CNS)
  • Quaternary tropical environmental variability
  • Savanna composition and dynamics
  • Fire regimes and biodiversity
  • Pollen morphology
  • Cultural landscapes
  • Climate change verses human impact signals in the palaeoenvironmental record
  • Environmental history applications to landscape and habitat management
  • 2015 to 2019 - Research Fellow, James Cook University (Cairns, Australia)
  • 2011 to 2013 - Research Fellow, Monash University (Melbourne, Australia)
  • 2009 to 2011 - Archaeological/Heritage Management, Private & Academic combined (Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea)
  • 2007 to 2009 - Postdoctoral Fellow, University of Bristol (Bristol, England)
  • 2006 to 2007 - Postdoctoral Fellow, Australian National University (Canberra, Australia)
  • 2001 to 2005 - PhD Candidate, Monash University (Melbourne, Australia)
Research Disciplines

These are the most recent publications associated with this author. To see a detailed profile of all publications stored at JCU, visit ResearchOnline@JCU.

Journal Articles
Book Chapters
  • David B, Richards T, Mcniven I, Aplin K, Petchey F, Szabó K, Mialanes J, Rowe C, Barker B, Connaughton S, Leavesley M, Mandui H and Jennings C (2022) Tanamu 1: A 5000 year sequence from Caution Bay. In: The Archaeology of Tanamu 1: A Pre-Lapita to Post-Lapita Site from Caution Bay, South Coast of Mainland Papua New Guinea. Caution Bay Studies in Archaeology, 2. Archaeopress, Oxford, United Kingdom, pp. 13-54
  • David B, Aplin K, Rowe C, Leavesley M, Szabó K, Richards T, Mcniven I, Petchey F and Mandui H (2022) Emerging out of Lapita at Caution Bay. In: The Archaeology of Tanamu 1: A Pre-Lapita to Post-Lapita Site from Caution Bay, South Coast of Mainland Papua New Guinea. Caution Bay Studies in Archaeology, 2. Archaeopress, Oxford, United Kingdom, pp. 1-12
  • Rowe C, Stevenson J, Connor S and Adeleye M (2022) Fire and the transformation of Landscapes. In: The Oxford Handbook of the Archaeology of Indigenous Australia and New Guinea. Oxford Handbooks. Oxford University Press, Oxford, UK, pp. C12.S1-C12.S15

ResearchOnline@JCU stores 55+ research outputs authored by Dr Cassandra Rowe from 2001 onwards.

Current Funding

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

Australian Research Council - Linkage - Projects

Investigating the archaeological values of Marra cultural heritage sites

Indicative Funding
$107,038 over 5 years (administered by Flinders University)
This project aims to investigate the archaeological landscape of Limmen National Park, the traditional Country of the Marra people, and to inform the creation of a cultural heritage management plan. It builds on a long-standing relationship with the Marra and the urgency to preserve their cultural knowledge associated with the Park. The project will use a two-way thinking methodology, combining contemporary Aboriginal knowledge with archaeological and anthropological data to understand the meaning of the archaeological record for Aboriginal people today. Key outcomes include data for continent-wide archaeological narratives, a holistic blueprint to help manage the Park?s cultural heritage, and an archive for Traditional Owner research.
Cassandra Rowe, Liam Brady, Emilie Dotte-Sarout, Amanda Ash, Daryl Wesley, Shaun Evans and David Barret (College of Science & Engineering, Flinders University, University of Melbourne, Monash University and Mabunji Aboriginal Resource Centre)
Archaeology; Palaeoecology; Cultural Heritage; Northern Territory; Anthropology; Management

Centre of Excellence for Australian Biodiversity and Heritage - Legacy Grants Scheme

Traps `n? maps: collecting data today to better understand the past tomorrow.

Indicative Funding
$90,000 over 2 years
The study of pollen to reconstruct landscapes of the past plays an important role across many environmental research and management goals. However, more is being asked of this data, in particular, the need to better understand past plant abundance and land-cover changes. To achieve this, we need a quantified understanding of the relationship between modern day pollen and vegetation, which requires large-scale data collection. Here, we propose developing a comprehensive modern pollen-matching vegetation records across major climate and biogeographic zones in Australia by combining expertise in paleoecology and citizen science with nationally funded infrastructure, TERN (Terrestrial Ecosystem Research Network).
Cassandra Rowe, Tahlia Jade-Perry and Andrew Stevenson (College of Science & Engineering, University of Adelaide and Australian National University)
Pollen production; Plant abundance; Palaeoecology; Aerial trapping; Citizen science; Vegetation survey

The Royal Society of Queensland - Grant

The Mua Island Garden Project: Reconstructing plant management practices in Western Torres Strait

Indicative Funding
$2,300 over 1 year
Food security in the face of climate change is a challenge for remote Indigenous communities in Australia, especially for Torres Strait Islander communities. Key to meeting this challenge is developing environmentally/culturally sustainable horticultural initiatives that build on traditional gardening practices adapted to hilly granite terrains of western Torres Strait. The Project thus brings together archaeological and palaeoenvironmental evidence with existing horticultural understandings of the Mualgal community to: 1. Understand how a western Torres Strait community developed and crafted their horticultural world over hundreds and perhaps thousands of years to accommodate the demands of wet and dry season climate extremes and hilly terrain; and, 2. Develop data and research into plant management in ways that are responsive to the contemporary aspirations and resources of a local Torres Strait Islander community.
Cassandra Rowe in collaboration with Jeremy Ash (College of Science & Engineering and Monash University)
Holocene; horticultural systems; Torres Strait

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.

  • Beauty or Blemish (Masters , Secondary Advisor)
  • A reconstruction of the Holocene fire and environmental history from Kinrara Swamp North Queensland (Masters , Secondary Advisor)

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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  • D3.112, The Cairns Institute (Cairns campus)
  • A2.225, A2 (Cairns campus)
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