Michele Burford
Griffith University

Photo of Professor Michele BurfordProfessor Michele Burford

Professor, Australian Rivers Institute and Dean (Research infrastructure), Griffith University

See Professor Burford’s full research profile here.


Professor Michele Burford is a researcher at Griffith University undertaking catchment-to-coast research, with a focus on the tropics and subtropics. Her team studies nutrient biogeochemistry, ecosystem productivity and algal ecology. She works closely with a range of industries, including fisheries, aquaculture and water, as well as all tiers of government and Traditional Owners to provide scientific information to aid environmental management.

Research outputs linked to policy change and decision-making

  • Professor Burford is leading research to provide innovative tools needed for market-based nutrient-offsetting in collaboration with the Queensland Government and the water industry. This has included an Australian Research Council Discovery grant. She is also working with the water industry to develop a discussion paper on nutrient-offsetting, and with the aquaculture industry to identify methods to improve nutrient management with the aim of meeting environmental regulations.
  • Professor Burford previously led 2 National Environmental Science Program (NESP) projects for the Northern Australia Environmental Resources Hub assessing the impact of future water development on estuaries in the Gulf of Carpentaria. She led a team which partnered with the fishing industry, Queensland and Australian governments, Traditional Owners, non-government organisations and researchers to gain insights into why freshwater flows are so important to marine fisheries production and threatened migratory shorebirds.
  • Professor Burford previously led a large Commonwealth Environmental Research Facility Tropical Rivers and Coastal Knowledge project on water development in northern Australia which was used by the fishing industry to lobby the Queensland Government to ensure that water extraction plans do not disadvantage fishers. Her research was directly used to update the Queensland Water Resources Plan for the Gulf of Carpentaria, and informed a north Australian senate inquiry into water development.
  • Professor Burford has been invited onto a number of scientific committees providing advice to industry and government including: United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) Global Harmful Algal Blooms (GlobalHAB) and Global Ecology and Oceanography of Harmful Algal Blooms (GEOHAB) committees, National Collaborative Research Infrastructure Strategy (NCRIS) Integrated Marine Observing System Board, NESP Tropical Water Quality Hub scientific advisory panel, NESP Northern Australia Environmental Resources Hub Queensland engagement committee, Healthy Land and Water Science committee, Australian Centre for Water Recycling scientific advisory panel, Gladstone Healthy Harbour Partnership committee, INPEX Darwin Harbour dredging scientific advisory committee, and Gold Coast Water Baseline and Catchment water quality monitoring.

Current academic employment and positions

  • 2013–present: Professor, Australian Rivers Institute
  • 2018–present: Dean (Research Infrastructure), Griffith University.

Highest qualification

  • 2001: PhD, University of Queensland.

Major prizes, medals and honours

  • 2021: Griffith Sciences, PVC Research Leadership Award
  • 2019: International Society of Limnology Baldi Award
  • 2016: Queensland Women in Technology Life Sciences Research Leadership Award
  • 2016: Griffith University, Griffith Sciences Research Leadership Award.

My Projects

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