I trained as a geologist at the University of Sydney and the Australian National University, obtaining a PhD in isotope geochemistry in 1988. Following a postdoctoral fellowship at the University of Western Ontario in Canada, I returned to Australia as research Fellow, ARC Queen Elizabeth II Fellow and Fellow at the Research School of Earth Sciences, Australian National University.

In 2000 I took up an Associate Professorship in Singapore and in 2004 moved to the Chair in Environmental Change at the University of St. Andrews in Scotland. I returned  to Australia to take up an ARC Federation Fellowship in the School of Earth and Environmental Science at James Cook University (Cairns campus) in February 2009. I was awarded an ARC Laureate Fellowship form 2014-2019 and am now Distinguished Professor in the College of Science and Engineering.

My research interests include the terrestrial carbon cycle, biochar, geoarchaeology and understanding the trajectory of past and future environmental change in the tropics.

  • EA1110: Evolution of the Earth (Level 1; CNS)
  • EA2404: Earth's Climate: Past, Present and Future (Level 2; CNS & TSV)
  • EA5404: Earth's Climate: Past, Present and Future (Level 5; CNS & TSV)
  • isotope geochemistry
  • quaternary science
  • carbon cycle science
  • biochar
  • geoarchaeology
  • 2019 to present - JCU Distinguished Professor, James Cook University (Cairns, Australia)
  • 2014 to 2019 - JCU Distinguished Professor and ARC Laureate Fellow, James Cook University (Cairns, Australia)
  • 2009 to 2014 - JCU Distinguished Professor and ARC Federation Fellow, James Cook University (Cairns, Australia)
  • 2004 to 2008 - Professor and Chair In Environmental Change, University of St Andrews (St. Andrews, Scotland)
  • 2000 to 2003 - Associate Professor, Nanyang Technological University (Singapore)
  • 1990 to 2000 - Fellow and QEII Fellow, Australian National University (Canberra, Australia)
  • 1989 to 1990 - Postdoctoral Fellow, University of Western Ontario (London, Ontario, Canada)
Socio-Economic Objectives
  • 2014 - ARC Laureate Fellow
  • 2007 - Royal Society of Edinburgh
  • 2009 to 2014 - ARC Federation Fellow
  • 1995 to 2000 - ARC Queen Elizabeth II Fellow
  • 2010 - JCU Distinguished Professor

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 225+ research outputs authored by Prof Michael Bird from 2002 onwards.

Current Funding

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

Leverhulme Trust - Leverhulme Centre for Climate Change Mitigation

Sequestering carbon and improving sugarcane productivity by enhanced weathering of basalt

Indicative Funding
$479,169 over 9 years (administered by University of Sheffield)
Arresting the build-up of atmospheric CO2 is one of humanity's biggest challenges. In geological time, the weathering of rocks consumes CO2, which is then sequestered as limestone in the ocean, but the natural rate of this process is very slow. In this project we will determine the feasibility of accelerating weathering by introducing crushed basalt (a common and easily weathered rock) into the place on earth with highest CO2 production and potential weathering rates - topsoil in the humid tropics. We will also examine the effects on soil condition and crop growth, which are likely to be beneficial.
Paul Nelson, Michael Bird and David J Beerling (College of Science & Engineering and University of Sheffield)
Carbon sequestration; Soil Fertility; Sugarcane; Water Quality; Great Barrier Reef; Agricultural Sustainability

Centre of Excellence for Australian Biodiversity and Heritage - CABAH Cadetship Scheme

CABAH Cadetship Scheme: Research management cadetship

Indicative Funding
$48,290 over 1 year
Magdalena will be trained in research management at the Reef and Rainforest Research Centre (RRRC), a non-profit organisation in Cairns. She will gain experience in research-informed conservation, government policy development, and community economic development in the tropics (Northern Australia, the Torres Strait Islands, and Papua New Guinea).
Magdalena Bunbury, Sean Ulm and Michael Bird (College of Arts, Society & Education and College of Science & Engineering)
Research management

Australian Research Council - Centres of Excellence

ARC Centre of Excellence for Australian Biodiversity and Heritage

Indicative Funding
$5,028,138 over 7 years (administered by University of Wollongong), in partnership with Flinders University ($10,000); Monash University ($14,299) and University of Wollongong ($5,000)
This Centre will create a world-class interdisciplinary research programme to understand Australia's unique biodiversity and heritage. The Centre will track the changes to Australia's environment to examine the processes responsible for the changes and the lessons that can be used to continue to adapt to Australia's changing environment. The Centre will support connections between the sciences and humanities and train future generations of researchers to deal with future global challenges and inform policy in an interdisciplinary context.
Richard Roberts, Susan O'Connor, Zenobia Jacobs, Timothy Cohen, Simon Haberle, Michael Bird, Sean Ulm, Martin Nakata, Darren Curnoe, Corey Bradshaw, Bruno David, Lynette Russell, Barry Brook and Chris Johnson in collaboration with Brit Asmussen, Geraldine Mate, Michael Slack, Jean-Jacques Delannoy, Matthew Leavesley, Stephan Stephan, Michael Storey, Kieren Mitchell, Vera Weisbecker and Janelle Stevenson (University of Wollongong, Australian National University, College of Science & Engineering, College of Arts, Society & Education, Indigenous Education & Research Centre, University of New South Wales, University of Adelaide, Monash University, University of Tasmania, Queensland Museum, Scarp Archaeology Pty Ltd, Universite Savoie Mont Blanc, University of Papua New Guinea, Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History, Natural History Museum of Denmark, Australian Museum and Flinders University)
Sahul; palaeoenvironments; Climate; archaeology; megafauna

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

SahulSED Radiocarbon, SahulCHAR, and OCTOPUS Future Proofing

Indicative Funding
$85,000 over 1 year
The project will engage a full-time postdoctoral fellow for 12 months to compile fire proxy data for the new data collection SahulCHAR, to oversee the data collection of environmental radiocarbon ages for SahulSED, and to lead the development of resources for the maintenance and community-led updates of these collections. The postdoctoral fellow will lead the E&E activities and support the RT&E activities described below and will update existing collections as needed. Results will be included in a series of planned papers to coincide with the launch of the new collections.
Haidee Cadd, Timothy Cohen, Sean Ulm, Michael Bird, Scott Mooney, Annika Herbert, Henry Munack, Alexandru Codilean, Janelle Stevenson, Simon Haberle, Corey Bradshaw, Zoe Thomas, Shane Ingrey, Fiona Petchey and Jonathan Tyler (University of New South Wales, University of Wollongong, College of Arts, Society & Education, College of Science & Engineering, Australian National University, Flinders University and University of Adelaide)
Radiocarbon; fire history

Australian Research Council - Linkage - Infrastructure (L-IEF)

Microanalytical Facility Supporting Resources Development and Manufacturing

Indicative Funding
$806,355 over 1 year (administered by The University of Queensland)
The project aims to establish a state-of-the-art electron probe microanalysis facility enabling accurate chemical analysis to be undertaken at the micro-scale. It is expected to provide new knowledge and support applied research on a range of natural, synthetic and processed materials that will deeply impact advancements in the fields of metals processing and recycling, Earth and environmental science, and the development of materials for a healthier society. It will support ARC funded and industry engaged research enhancing the minerals exploration, mining and metallurgical industries and inform sustainable practice. It will also provide the key research infrastructure to enhance Australia?s research leadership in these fields.
Jak Evgueni, Peter Hays, Rick Valenta, Teresa Ubide, Kazuhiro Nogita, Paul Dirks, Michael Bird, Kevin Blake and Sean Ulm (The University of Queensland, College of Science & Engineering, Research Infrastructure, College of Arts and Society & Education)
Mining exploration; Geology; Geochemistry; Archaeology; Critical Minerals; Mining Engineering

Australian Research Council - Discovery - Projects

Pyrogenic Carbon Sequestration in Australian Soils

Indicative Funding
$401,000 over 3 years
Pyrogenic Carbon (PyC; 'charcoal') is a porrly understood component of the global carbon cycle. It is important because it is resistant to degradation and hence has potential soil carbon sequestration benefits. This project applies a new technique (hydrogen pyrolysis) in combination with spectroscopic techniques to quantify PyC in a pan-Australian soil sample set, collected using uiniform stratified sampling and preparation protocols. This will enable the mapping of soil PyC stocks in relation to environmental and soil variables across Australia. The results will enable the understanding of the controls on PyC sequestration potential in Australian soils and contriobute to ongoing efforts to quantify soil stocks and dynamics globally.
Michael Bird and Sourav Das in collaboration with Jonathan Sanderman and Gustavo Saiz (College of Science & Engineering, Woodland Park Zoo and Universidad Catolica de la Santisima Concepcion)
Sequestration; Soil Carbon; Fire; Hydrogen Pyrolysis; Carbon Isotope

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.

  • Deep sand time capsules: past environmental records from sediments surrounding Gledswood Shelter 1, Northwest Queensland, Australia (PhD , Primary Advisor/AM/Adv)
  • Paleoenvironmental analysis of the Georgina River catchment and the wet and dry cycles of late quaternary Australia. (PhD , Primary Advisor/AM/Adv)
  • Understanding Kwokkunum Shell Mounds as Landscape Engineering: A Spatial and Temporal Archaeological approach (PhD , Secondary Advisor)
  • Fluid Characterisation of Hydrothermal Mineralisation in the Eastern Fold Belt, mt Isa Inlier, NW Queensland, Australia (PhD , Secondary Advisor/AM)
  • A reconstruction of the Holocene fire and environmental history from Kinrara Swamp North Queensland (Masters , Primary Advisor/AM/Adv)

These are the most recent metadata records associated with this researcher. To see a detailed description of all dataset records, visit Research Data Australia.


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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  • D3.107, The Cairns Institute (Cairns campus)
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