My research interests are broadly focused on water quality across the catchment to reef continuum.   Zoe’s PhD research examined sediment transport processes across a large Great Barrier Reef (GBR) river catchment, as well as the transformation and dispersal of these sediments within adjacent coastal waters. Zoe’s current Advance Queensland Fellowship builds on this research to characterise and trace the origin(s) of fine sediments that are most responsible for the declining condition of GBR ecosystems. 

Socio-Economic Objectives
  • 2016 - University Medal - Excellence for a doctoral research thesis
  • 2016 - Clarivate Analytics (formerly Thomson Reuters) Women in Research Citation Awards (Environmental science & management category)
  • 2016 to 2019 - Advance Queensland (QLD Government) Research Fellowship

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
Conference Papers

ResearchOnline@JCU stores 48+ research outputs authored by Dr Zoe Bainbridge from 2007 onwards.

Current Funding

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

NQ Dry Tropics - Contract Research

LDC Community Water Quality Monitoring Program (LME#17-004).

Indicative Funding
$133,143 over 6 years
The objective of the Burdekin MIP is to work closely with groups in one or two focus areas, with the Bowen-Broken-Bogie(BBB) catchments, to trial a range of regionally tailored coordinated actions that reduce sediment and nutrient loads. Throughout this Major Integrated Project, progress in achieving land management practice changes, economic benefits for landholders and pollutant load reductions will be closely monitored an results will inform adaptive management. This project is to develop a community water quality monitoring program for the BBB catchments.
Zoe Bainbridge in collaboration with Stephen Lewis (TropWATER)
Monitoring; Great Barrier Reef; Burdekin; Water Quality; Suspended Sediment; Landholders Driving Change

CSIRO - Contract Research

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

Indicative Funding
$300,000 over 3 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

QLD Department of Environment and Science - Advance Queensland Research Fellowship

Identifying sources of fine sediments to protect the Great Barrier Reef

Indicative Funding
$180,000 over 5 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

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 and C2O Consulting)
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

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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