Dialog Box


Sydney Harbour Research Program Leadership

A/Prof Paul Gribben – Director

My interests lie in integrating a diverse range of ecological fields to better understand the resistance and resilience of marine ecosystems to change. I have published broadly on the processes determining the biodiversity of coastal marine ecosystems and the response of marine communities to some of the most pressing environmental concerns such as pollution and the spread and impacts of invaders. I also have a background in invertebrate fisheries and aquaculture, and I have collaborated extensively with industry and government on their sustainable development.

I completed my PhD in 2003 at the University of Auckland, New Zealand, before taking up an international Post-Doctoral Fellowship at Centre for Bio-Innovation (CMB), University of New South Wales (UNSW Australia), where I am currently a Australian Research Council Future Fellow and Associate Professor of Marine Ecology.

Email A/Prof Paul Gribben



A/Prof William Figueira – Deputy Director

My research spans a diverse range of topics within the area of fish ecology and fishery dynamics and management. I conduct field and lab studies on the behavior and demographics of reef fishes in tropical and temperate habitats with a strong focus on factors driving local and large scale metapopulation dynamics and how these interact to affect distributional range shifts in response to climate change. Much of my work is highly quantitative and includes biophysical transport modeling to understand metapopulation connectivity and source-sink dynamics as well as statistical modeling to evaluate factors driving larval supply to coastal reefs from near and off shore oceanographic features. I also conduct research in the area of recreational fishery assessment and management as well as marine park design, monitoring and effectiveness.

I completed my PhD in 2003 at Duke University in the USA and held a post doctoral research position there for 1 year before moving to the University of Technology, Sydney in 2004 to take up a post doctoral position. In 2009 I took up a position at the University of Sydney where I am currently an Associate Professor. I supervise a diverse range of students, post-docs and technicians and publish results in a variety of high impact international peer reviewed journals.

Email A/Prof William Figueira



Dr Katherine Dafforn – Deputy Director

A senior lecturer at Macquarie University, my research explores human impacts on marine communities and I have been investigating the marine life in Sydney Harbour for over 10 years. I have worked extensively on developing sensitive indicators of ecosystem health and have published broadly on the topic of pollution biomonitoring. Most recently I have been investigating the potential to incorporate ecological ideas into the design of engineered marine structures such as seawalls. I do this to provide sustainable building solutions to developers and managers for enhancing urban marine ecosystems.

I am enthusiastic about science communication. I publish regularly in media outlets such as The Conversation and am an avid tweeter. For this I recently received a Young Tall Poppy Science Award for science excellence and community engagement.

I completed my PhD in 2010 at the University of New South Wales, Sydney before beginning a post doctoral research position within the Applied Marine and Estuarine Ecology (AMEE) Lab at UNSW Sydney. From 2016 - 2018 I was the Co-Director for the AMEE Lab and have recently taken up a position as Senior Lecturer in the Department of Environmental Sciences at Macquarie University.  I have been actively involved in the Sydney Harbour Research Program since it’s inception.

Email Dr Katherine Dafforn

Link to Twitter @DrKDafforn




Dr Ana Bugnot – Program Manager

My research focusses on exploring local to global-scale impacts of human activities on the marine environment and finding solutions to those problems. I use a range of empirical and analytical techniques, from field experiments to remote sensing and meta-analysis. At large scales, I have described the environmental change of over 500 Australian estuaries for the last 3 decades and I am currently assessing the human activities driving those changes to inform monitoring and management strategies. At local scales, my research has focused on studying the impacts of urbanization on the marine life in Sydney Harbour for the last 8 years. I have assessed the impacts of an invasive species living in Sydney oyster beds and identified the factor that drive its colonisation. I have also studied the impacts of Sydney’s coastal infrastructure, such as seawalls and pilings, on marine benthic communities and tested different eco-engineered designs to facilitate the colonization of marine life. I have recently joined the Sydney Harbour Research Program, where I am coordinating a collaborative effort to restore NSW subtidal oyster reefs.

I completed my Ph.D. in 2014 at the University of Sydney. After that, I joined the Applied Marine and Estuarine Ecology Group (AMEE) at the University of New South Wales as a Research Fellow, until I started a Sydney Harbour Research Program/ University of Sydney joint position in 2018.


Email Dr Ana Bugnot