Damien Burrows
James Cook University

Damien Burrows

Professor Damien Burrows

Director, TropWATER, James Cook University

See Professor Burrows’ full research profile here.

E: damien.burrows@jcu.edu.au

Research outputs linked to policy change and decision-making

  • co-developer, tropical rapid appraisal of riparian condition methodology, widely used across the north. Professor Burrows’ work was the first to demonstrate the value in millions of dollars of riparian fencing and coastal wetland restoration (>25 publications) conducted via federal govt programs and he was science monitoring leader on projects within the $8 million Great Barrier Reef coastal wetlands protection program.
  • Professor Burrows led several pest fish science and community-education programs, which have greatly restricted the spread of pest fish. His work on pest fish and fish habitat have provided management solutions and provoked changes to government policy (e.g. Burrows, D.W. 2004. Translocated fishes in streams of the Wet Tropics region: distribution and potential impact – used as the basis for fish stocking policy and management in the Wet Tropics World Heritage Area). In 2013, Professor Burrows authored the State of the Wet Tropics Report (tabled in state and federal parliament) in recognition of his contribution to management of aquatic ecosystems in the Wet Tropics.
  • Professor Burrows’ research led to several Australian insects that he studied being released as biological control agents in the USA, impacting upon the growth of weed species there, including wetland paperbarks, which at 29 m tall were the largest-ever target of a biological control program.
  • National Environmental Science Program (NESP) Northern Australia Environmental Resources Hub projects: Developing eDNA methods for tropical waters and Remote environmental monitoring techniques.

Highest qualification

  • 2003: PhD, James Cook University.

Current academic employment and positions

  • 2011–present: director, Centre for Tropical Water and Aquatic Ecosystem Research (TropWATER), James Cook University
  • hub leader – NESP Marine and Coastal Hub.

Major prizes, medals and honours

  • 2012: Queensland Smithsonian Fellowship Award
  • 2014: Vice-Chancellor’s Award for Excellence in Leadership.

Roles on government or regional organisation committees

  • various government technical advisory groups involved in prioritising and selecting dam sites from among the numerous available locations, having a strong influence on what sites are selected and how further studies into their suitability and impact are conducted
  • foundation director, Mangrove Watch Pty Ltd, a community–science partnership which includes extensive collaboration with Indigenous land and sea ranger groups
  • 2010–2015: member, Wet Tropics Management Authority scientific advisory committee
  • 2008–2009: member, Cape York Biodiversity, technical advisory group
  • 1999–2004: technical member, freshwater advisory committee, Qld Government: reviewed and developed fishing, stocking and other legislative regulations for development of state fisheries regulations and development of state policy documents
  • 2015–present: member, independent expert panel for the Great Barrier Reef
  • 2018–present: member, steering committee, reef restoration and adaptation program
  • 2015–2019: member, steering committee, reef integrated monitoring and reporting program
  • 2019–present: member, steering committee, crown-of-thorns starfish control and innovation program
  • 2021–present: board member, North Queensland Dry Tropics natural resource management.

Links with non-government groups or networks

  • project leader, Marine and Tropical Sciences Research Facility (Commonwealth Environmental Research Facilities; 2005–2009) and Tropical Ecosystems Hub (National Environmental Research Programme; 2010–2014) programs.
  • hub leader, NESP Tropical Water Quality Hub (2015–2021).
  • founding director of Centre for Tropical Water and Aquatic Ecosystem Research (TropWATER; 2011–present). TropWATER has 93 employed staff, 40 members and 80 postgraduate students. Centre staff are all externally funded, relying on strong long-term partnerships with a range of government agencies and industry partners. Our annual income of ~$8 million per year for the last 5 years reflects how strongly these stakeholders value our work and its value and benefit to them. TropWATER has >100 collaborations in >20 countries in the last 5 years.
  • former director, Australian Centre for Tropical Freshwater Research (2008–2011). 30 staff, all externally-funded by government and industry with annual income of ~$3 million.
  • Professor Burrows’ leadership of TropWATER includes large water-quality programs with several major mining companies and coastal refineries, operating a semi-commercial water quality analytical laboratory and the catchment-to-reef research group, the leading group studying catchment runoff to the Great Barrier Reef. Water quality studies led by Professor Burrows have guided considerable changes to operations at several major mine and coastal refineries.
  • Professor Burrows has had a significant impact upon large water-resource developments, including working extensively on water quality and wetland management within irrigation areas, impact assessments, and authoring >40 relevant publications. He is also team leader and co-author of 12 chapters and technical reports for the Flinders and Gilbert Resource Agricultural Resource Assessment (2013), including the water quality studies.

My Projects

Current projectCompleted project
NESP RLH, 2021-2027NESP, 2015-2021NERP, 2012-2015TRaCK, 2005-present