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.

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. Hover over Altmetrics badges to see social impact.

Journal Articles
Book Chapters

ResearchOnline@JCU stores 120+ 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 Agriculture and Fisheries - Contract Research

Alluvial Gully Remediation in the Upper Burdekin Catchment

Indicative Funding
$702,175 over 4 years (administered by QLD Department of Agriculture and Fisheries)
In catchments draining to the Great Barrier Reef World Heritage Area, northeast Queensland, Australia, excess sediment derived from gully erosion is contributing to poor coastal water quality. Remediating and preventing further degradation of these landscapes is a major focus of investment toward improving coastal water quality. This project will monitor and evaluate the effect of several alluvial gully remediation measures on improving water quality in the Upper Burdekin catchment. The project will provide valuable new data, knowledge and understanding of the effectiveness of these remediation approaches for landholders interested in protecting and enhancing forage productivity, and for the organisations investing in activities to reduce sediment and nutrient loads delivered to the Great Barrier Reef.
Jack Koci, Scott Smithers, Zoe Bainbridge, Stephen Lewis and Luke Buono (College of Science & Engineering and TropWater)
Soil erosion; Environmental management; Water quality; Great Barrier Reef; Savanna; Runoff

Qld Dept of State Development, Infrastructure and Planning - Contract Research

Expert technical advice regarding project water quality and catchment modelling

Indicative Funding
$186,000 over 1 year
The project is to provide expert technical advice regarding the water quality and catchment modelling components of the Environmental Impact Statements for the proposed Big Rocks Weir, the raising of the Burdekin Falls Dam and the methodology behind the cumulative impact assessment.
Stephen Lewis, Damien Burrows and Scott Smithers in collaboration with Barry Butler, Adam Canning and Jordan Iles (TropWater and College of Science & Engineering)
Sediment Transport; Reservoir trapping; Geomorphic assessment; Coastal processes; Environmental Impact Statement; Great Barrier Reef

Great Barrier Reef Foundation - Contract Research

Review of water quality monitoring and evaluation for DIN-focused projects.

Indicative Funding
$544,619 over 2 years
Our team will coordinate and provide technical support across all the Reef Trust Partnership (RTP) dissolved inorganic nitrogen (DIN) and pesticide projects that involve water quality (WQ) monitoring managed by the Great Barrier Reef Foundation. The purpose of the work is to ensure that the overall approach - including project design, equipment selection, sampling methods and analysis - is fit-for purpose and (to the extent appropriate) consistent across projects and programs. We will also ensure that project findings are communicated effectively and consistently.
Stephen Lewis, Cassandra James, Zoe Bainbridge, Molly McShane and Aaron Davis (TropWater)
Dissolved inorganic nitrogen; Pesticides; Monitoring; Communication; Water Quality

Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority - Contract Research

Marine Monitoring Program Pesticide Support.

Indicative Funding
The Reef 2050 WQIP Marine Monitoring Program (MMP) is a key component in the assessment of long term improvements in inshore water quality and marine ecosystem. This component of the program includes deployment and retrieval of pesticide passive samplers at 4 locations in the GBR from November 2022 to June 2023.
Jane Waterhouse, Stephen Lewis, Jane Mellors and Mark O'Callaghan (TropWater)
pesticide; Great Barrier Reef; Water quality; Inshore

Great Barrier Reef Foundation - Reef Trust Partnership

CYWP Annan Sediment Tracing

Indicative Funding
$30,000 over 1 year (administered by Cape York Water Partnership Inc)
Prepare, analyse and report on Annan Catchment tributary water samples for geochemistry and grain size, to assess the sources of sediment to Walker Bay.
Zoe Bainbridge and Stephen Lewis (TropWater)
Sediments; Sediment tracing; Cape York; Flood; Catchment to reef

Queensland Department of Environment and Science - Contract Research

Great Barrier Reef catchments historical water quality data compilation.

Indicative Funding
$236,600 over 1 year
Compilation of extensive historical water quality data into a single database to be made available to all researchers, modellers and end users working in the GBR catchment area, with the data to be presented in a form consistent with that currently in use by existing WQ monitoring frameworks and databases (for example the Great Barrier Reef Catchment Loads Monitoring Program).
Zoe Bainbridge, Stephen Lewis and Cassandra James (TropWater)
Sediments; Catchment to reef; Water Quality; Great Barrier Reef; Land Use; Monitoring

CSIRO - Contract Research

CSIRO - JCU Partnership - Catchment Water Quality Science (2019030726)

Indicative Funding
$300,000 over 4 years
The CSIRO Land and Water Business Unit is seeking to engage several JCU staff to support research undertaken within the Catchment Processes Research Group. These collaborative positions will synthesise and build on the Group's scientific output within the Great Barrier Reef land management and water quality research domain. It will also strengthen out collective ability to connect land management changes (CSIRO focus) with marine impact (JCU focus).
Zoe Bainbridge and Stephen Lewis (TropWater)
Sediment Tracing; Great Barrier Reef; Burdekin; Marine ecological impacts; Catchment sediment processes; Sediment runoff

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

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 and associated bioavailable nutrients

Indicative Funding
$598,596 over 2 years, in partnership with Queensland Department of Environment and Science ($155,870)
Recent research has shown that only a portion of the fine sediment fraction delivered from rivers draining into the Great Barrier Reef Lagoon (GBRL) 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), fate and nutrient bioavailability 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, Zoe Bainbridge, Thomas Stevens and Scott Smithers in collaboration with Joanne Burton, Alexandra Garzon-Garcia, Phil Moody, Chengrong Chen, Jon Olley and Mehran Rezaei Rashti (TropWater, College of Science & Engineering, QLD Department of Environment and Science and Griffith University)
sediment flocs; sediment resuspension; Sediment Tracing; sediment transport and fate; Turbidity; Great Barrier Reef

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.

  • Cay geomorphology, dynamics and future prospects within the Great Barrier Reef (PhD , Secondary Advisor)
  • Developmental diversity of proximal reefs on the Great Barrier Reef during the Holocene: Causes and implications for conservation (PhD , Secondary Advisor)

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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