A Townsville original, Stephen completed a BSc (Hons) and PhD in the School of Earth and Environmental Sciences at James Cook University in 2000 and 2005, respectively. Stephen is a geochemist that focuses primarily on water quality in the Great Barrier Reef (GBR) catchment area and lagoon including evaluating the sources, transport and risks of various pollutants in freshwater, estuarine and marine ecosystems.


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 70+ research outputs authored by Dr Stephen Lewis from 2006 onwards.

Current Funding

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

QLD Department of Science, Information, Technology and Innovation - Advance Queensland Research Fellowship

Idenitfying sources of fine sediments to protect the Great Barrrier Reef

Indicative Funding
$180,000 over 4 years
This fellowship builds on Bainbridge's PhD thesis which identified the sediment fractions preferentially transported from rivers via flood flumes to the Great Barrier Reef lagoon, and which have the greatest influence on photic depth/water clarity. The research will identify both the key properties and the primary sources of this material, enabling more effective prioritisation and direct targeting of control works to improve the quality of water discharged to the Great Barrier Reef. This research is cutting edge in the field of sediment tracing and will contribute locally by identifying specific catchment sources of ecologically-damaging fine sediment, and to the broader international field of sediment tracing.
Zoe Bainbridge, Stephen Lewis, Scott Smithers, Jon Olley, Joanne Burton, Scott Wilkinson and Stephen Hillier (TropWATER, College of Science & Engineering, Australian Rivers Institute, QLD Department of Science, Information Technology and Innovation, Commonwealth Scientific & Industrial Research Organisation and James Hutton Institute)
Fine Sediment; Great Barrier Reef; Clay minineralogy; Sediment Tracing; Geochemistry; Catchment Management

Department of the Environment and Energy - National Environmental Science Program (NESP) - Tropical Water Quality Hub (TWQ Hub)

What's really damaging the reef? Tracing the origin and fate of the environmentally detrimental sediment

Indicative Funding
$565,000 over 3 years
Recent research has shown that only a portion of the fine sediment fraction delivered from rivers draining into the Great Barrier Reef Lagoon reaches coral reefs and seagrass meadows. The specific sources of this sediment, which affects the health of corals and seagrasses, are as yet unresolved. This project will, for the first time characterise and trace the origin(s) and fate of this environmentally detrimental sediment using samples collected in flood plumes and during resuspension events. This will enable direct spatial targeting of the sources of this material to achieve maximum benefits to GBR health from catchment management actions.
Stephen Lewis in collaboration with Zoe Bainbridge, Jon Olley, Chengrong Chen, Scott Smithers, Joanne Burton and Phil Moody (TropWATER, Griffith University, Griffith Medical School, College of Science & Engineering, QLD Department of Science and Information Technology and Innovation)
sediment flocs; sediment resuspension; sediment tracing; sediment transport and fate; Turbidity; Great Barrier Reef

Department of the Environment and Energy - National Environmental Science Program (NESP) - Tropical Water Quality Hub (TWQ Hub)

Testing and implementation of the water quality metric for the 2017 and 2018 reef report cards

Indicative Funding
$9,241 (administered by AIMS)
Report cards are used at various levels to summarise and communicate complex information on GBR health. The effectiveness of Reef Plan lis communicated through the annual Reef Report card. In the Reef Report Card, marine water quality is reported using a metric, developed in 2009, based on satellite remote sensing of near surface concentrations of chlorophyll and total suspended solids. This provides a wide spatial and temporal coverage of marine water quality. However, the current water quality metric has a number of issues such that the Independent Science Panel has recently expressed a lack of confidence in it and suggested that a new approach was needed. This proposal outlines a research program to deliver elements of this new approach.
B Schaffelke, Cedric Robillot, Murray Logan, Patricia Menendez, Mark Baird, Stephen Lewis, Katherine Martin and Jane Waterhouse (Australian Institute of Marine Science, Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority, Commonwealth Scientific & Industrial Research Organisation and TropWATER)
report cards; Water Quality

Terrain Natural Resource Management - Contract Research

Wet Tropics Major Integrated Project Synthesis Report

Indicative Funding
Extensive science has been conducted in the catchments of the wet tropics region with the aim of improving water quality in the Great Barrier Reef. This project aims to compile and synthesise this information for the Johnstone and Tully Catchments. The synthesis will utilize and integrate extensive existing biophysical, land management practice, social and economic data with the aim of generating new and increased understanding of the current status and options for the future. It will be used in conjunction with feasibility studies to inform decision making around the best location and mix of on-ground actions to reduce nutrient and pesticide loads.
Damien Burrows, Stephen Lewis and Allan Dale (TropWATER and Cairns Institute)
Wet Tropics; Water Quality; Cane Farming; Great Barrier Reef; Agriculture

QLD Department of Agriculture and Fisheries - Contract Research

Re-Invigorating the Pesticide Working Group (PWG)

Indicative Funding
$30,000 over 2 years
The project is designed to facilitate communication between industry, extension providers, scientists resource managers and regulators, and undertake activities to accelerate progress towards the Reef Water Quality Protection Plan target for pesticides.
Stephen Lewis in collaboration with Jane Waterhouse, Aaron Davis and Andrew Negri (TropWATER and Australian Institute of Marine Science)
Pesticides; Insecticides; Extension; Herbicides; Farmers

Advisory Accreditation: I can be on your Advisory Panel as a 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.

  • Sediment Dynamics of a Large Tropical River System (PhD , Secondary Advisor)

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


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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