Students @ UNSW


Nik Hubbard

Thayanne Lima

Rosemary Steinberg

Shinjiro Ushiama


Dr Sebastian Vadillo Gonzalez

Thesis title: A multilevel assessment of sediment bioremediation with bioturbating macrofauna (with Prof Emma Johnston and A/Prof Paul Gribben, UNSW)


Gonzalez, S.V., Johnston, E., Gribben, P.E. and Dafforn, K.A. (2019) The application of bioturbators for aquatic bioremediation: review and meta-analysis. Environmental Pollution. 250: 426-436.

Dr Aria Lee

Thesis title: When to settle down, have babies and discover your exotic identity: Patterns in recruitment and reproduction in non-indigenous sessile biota (with Prof Emma Johnston, UNSW and Dr Pat Hutchings, Australian Museum)

Current position: Research Assistant at Sydney Institute of Marine Science


Lee, A.L., Dafforn, K.A., Hutchings, P.A. and Johnston, E.L. (2018) Reproductive strategy and gamete development of an invasive fanworm, Sabella spallanzanii (Polychaeta: Sabellidae), a field study in Gulf St Vincent, South Australia. PLoS ONE. 13: e0200027.


2017 EERC 3MT Winner

Dr Nina Schaefer

Thesis title: Understanding the drivers of biodiversity on the rocky coast (completed 2018, with Prof Emma Johnston and Dr Mariana Mayer-Pinto, UNSW)

Current position: Research Associate at Macquarie University and Sydney Institute of Marine Science.


Schaefer, N., Mayer-Pinto, M., Griffin, K.J., Johnston, E.L., Glamore, W. and Dafforn, K.A. (2020) Predicting the impact of sea-level rise on intertidal rocky shores with remote sensing. Journal of Environmental Management. 261: 110203.

Schaefer, N., Dafforn, K.A., Johnston, E.L. and Mayer-Pinto, M. (2019) Size, depth and position affect the diversity and structure of rock pool communities in an urban estuary. Marine and Freshwater Research. 70: 1034-1044.

Dr Simone Birrer

Thesis title: Microbes, contaminants and molecular biomonitoring: Structural and functional sediment community responses to multiple stressors (completed 2017, with Prof Emma Johnston, UNSW)

Current position: Project Officer for D-NOSES, European Citizen Science Association


Birrer, S.C., Dafforn, K.A., Sun, M.Y., Williams, R.B.H., Potts, J., Scanes, P., Kelaher, B.P., Simpson, S.L., Kjelleberg, S., Swarup, S., Steinberg, P. and Johnston, E.L. (2019) Using meta-omics of contaminated sediments to monitor changes in pathways relevant to climate regulation. Environmental Microbiology. 21: 389-401.

Birrer, S.C., Dafforn, K.A., Simpson, S.L., Kelaher, B.P., Potts, J., Scanes, P. and Johnston, E.L. (2018) Interactive effects of multiple stressors revealed by sequencing total (DNA) and active (RNA) components of experimental sediment microbial communities. Science of the Total Environment. 637-638: 1383-1394.

Birrer, S.C., Dafforn, K.A. and Johnston, E.L. (2017) Microbial community responses to contaminants and the use of molecular techniques. in Microbial Ecotoxicology, eds. Cravo-Laurear C; Duran R; Cagnon C; Lauga B. Springer, pp. 165-183.


2015 Best Oral Presentation (CAPIM) at the Australian Marine Science Association Conference

2014 EERC Postgraduate Start-Up Grant

Dr James Lavender

Thesis title: Ecological processes influencing the composition of subtidal marine hard-substrate communities (completed 2017, with Prof Johnston, UNSW and A/Prof Bishop Macquarie University).

Current position: Policy Officer, Energy, Climate Change and Sustainability, Department of Planning, Industry and Environment.

Lavender, J.T., Dafforn, K.A., Bishop, M.J. and Johnston, E.L. (2017) An empirical examination of consumer effects across  twenty degrees of latitude. Ecology. 98: 2391-2400.

Lavender, J.T., Dafforn, K.A., Bishop, M.J. and Johnston, E.L. (2017) Small-scale habitat  complexity of artificial turf influences the development of  associated invertebrate assemblagesJournal of Experimental Marine Biology and Ecology. 492: 105-112.


2012 University Medal

Dr Melanie Sun

Thesis title: Impacts of anthropogenic modification on the taxonomic and functional structure of estuarine sediment communities (completed 2015, with Prof Emma Johnston, Dr Mark Brown, UNSW & Dr Anthony Chariton, CSIRO).

Current position: Editor at the Epoch Media Group


Sun, M.Y., Dafforn, K.A., Johnston, E.L. and Brown, M.V. (2013) Core sediment bacteria drive community response to anthropogenic contamination over multiple gradients. Applied Environmental Microbiology. 15: 2517-2531.

Sun, M.Y., Dafforn, K.A., Brown, M.V. and Johnston, E.L. (2012) Bacterial communities are sensitive indicators of contaminant stress. Marine Pollution Bulletin 64, 1029-1038.


2012 EERC Significant Collaboration Award

Dr Katelyn Edge 

Thesis title: Do cellular biomarkers in the Sydney Rock Oyster reflect ecological impacts of contaminants within estuaries? (completed 2013, with Prof Emma Johnston, UNSW and Dr Stuart Simpson, CSIRO)

Current position: Senior Operations Officer at the NSW Environmental Protection Agency


Edge, K.J., Johnston, E.L., Dafforn, K.A., Simpson, S.L., Kutti, T. and Bannister, R.J. (2016) Sub-lethal effects of water-based drilling muds on the deep-water sponge Geodia barretti. Environmental Pollution. 212: 525-534.

Edge, K.J., Dafforn, K.A., Simpson, S.L., Ringwood, A.H. and Johnston, E.L. (2015) Resuspended contaminated sediments cause sublethal stress to oysters: A biomarker differentiates total suspended solids and contaminant effects. Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry. 34: 1345-1353.

Edge, K.J., Dafforn, K.A., Simpson, S.L., Roach, A.C. and Johnston, E.L. (2014). A biomarker of contaminant exposure is effective in large scale assessment of ten estuaries. Chemosphere. 100: 16-26.


Toxic estuaries in NSW making Sydney Rock Oysters infertile. SMH, April 13 2014.


2016 Fresh Science Bright Spark Winner.

2013 EERC Outstanding Evolution and Ecology Thesis.