UNSW announces new leadership role for award-winning scientist Emma Johnston

Renowned professor of marine ecology and TV presenter Emma Johnston is adding Pro-Vice-Chancellor (Research) to her impressive list of achievements.

Emma Johnston

UNSW marine ecologist Professor Emma Johnston. Photo: Maja Baska

UNSW has announced the appointment of Professor Emma Johnston as Pro-Vice-Chancellor (Research).

A leading authority in marine ecology, Professor Johnston comes to the role with an exceptional research career. As well as heading up the Applied Marine and Estuarine Ecology Lab at UNSW, Professor Johnston has led more than 20 major research projects for industry, government, the Australian Research Council and the Australian Antarctic Science Program.

In 2012, Professor Johnston was appointed the inaugural director of the Sydney Harbour Research Program at the Sydney Institute of Marine Science, where she works with 35 scientists to better understand the threats to Sydney’s prized natural harbour, and helps devise more sustainable management practices.

Professor Johnston is a high-profile science communicator, winning the 2015 Eureka Prize for Promoting Understanding of Australian Science Research. She is a regular media commentator and, as co-presenter for the Foxtel/BBC television series, Coast Australia, has helped take Australian marine science to an international audience.

“This is a very exciting appointment for UNSW and much deserved recognition for one our most outstanding researchers,” President and Vice-Chancellor Professor Ian Jacobs said.

“As a leading authority in her field and a skilled communicator, Emma is engaging government and industry to influence policy. She is also an effective advocate for gender equity in science.

“In her new role as Pro-Vice-Chancellor (Research), Emma will play a key role as part of the UNSW Executive Team delivering on our ambitious 2025 Strategy.”

Professor Johnston said she was thrilled to take up the position.

“UNSW is a great university and we have a strong vision for the future. As Pro-Vice-Chancellor (Research), I look forward to contributing to the further advancement of UNSW's academic excellence, social engagement and global impact.”

An Australia Research Fellow from 2010-2014, Professor Johnston studied science at the University of Melbourne, graduating with a PhD in 2002. Her research has been recognised with numerous awards, including the inaugural 2014 Australian Academy of Science Nancy Millis Medal for Women in Science, the 2012 NSW Science and Engineering Award for Excellence in Biological Sciences and the Hynes Award from the Canadian Rivers Institute (2016). She is currently Vice-President of Science & Technology Australia.

Professor Johnston replaces Professor Brian Boyle who is acting Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Research). She takes up her role later this month.

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