Rachael Gallagher
Western Sydney University

Rachael Gallagher bio photo

Dr Rachael Gallagher

Associate professor, Hawkesbury Institute for the Environment, Western Sydney University

See Dr Gallagher’s full research profile here.

Research outputs linked to policy change and decision-making

  • National prioritisation of plants affected by the 2019–2020 bushfire season. Dr Gallagher is currently leading a national assessment of fire impacts on ~25,000 plant species for the Australian Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment. This research informs the work of the federal Threatened Species Commissioner who heads the Bushfire Recovery Expert Panel. Results to date have informed allocation of recovery grant funds, approaches to listings species as threatened under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation (EPBC) Act 1999, and the development of an International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) program to assess post-fire extinction risk.
  • Saving our Species – review of the keep-watch management stream for NSW Department of Planning, Infrastructure and Environment (DPIE). In 2018, Dr Gallagher led a strategic review of the management of threatened species which do not qualify for active management as part of the flagship, $100 million NSW Saving our Species program. Findings of the review have been used to reallocate species among management streams and develop appropriate monitoring schedules to track recovery in threatened species.
  • Dr Gallagher developed the NSW Ecological Niche Finder website, a tool for rapidly assessing the environmental niches of all NSW plant species. This tool has been used in the assessment species for listing as threatened under the NSW Biodiversity Conservation Act 2016 and against the Serious and Irreversible Impacts Provisions of the act. The tool is also used by LandCare groups to plan resilient revegetation projects under future climate change.

Current academic employment and positions

  • 2020–present: senior lecturer, biological sciences, Macquarie University,
  • 2017–2020: Discovery Early Career Research Award, Australian Research Council
  • 2016–2022: deputy chair, NSW threatened species scientific committee.

Highest qualification

  • 2012,: PhD, Macquarie University

Major prizes, medals and honours

  • 2020: NSW Premier’s Prize for Early Career Research (Biological Sciences)
  • 2015: NSW Tall Poppy Science Award Australian Institute of Policy and Science
  • 2015: Early Career Researcher of the Year, Faculty of Science, Macquarie University
  • 2014: Young Scientist Plenary New Zealand Ecological Society Conference.

Roles on government or regional organisation committees

  • lead of steering committee, Open Traits Network (OTN). This international network consists of members from leading research institutes and universities, museums and herbaria who are focussed on synthesising global data on species traits for stronger management, conservation, and research outcomes. Dr Gallagher led the development of the OTN, which has grown to over 80 members and is maintained via a novel decentralised but connected structure via an online community platform.
  • member, Commonwealth Threatened Species Scientific Committee (CTSSC; 2019–current). The CTSSC contributes expertise to the listing of species and ecological communities as threatened under the EPBC Act.
  • deputy chair, NSW threatened species scientific committee (TSSC; 2016–2020). The TSSC lists species and ecological communities as threatened under the NSW Biodiversity Conservation Act 2016. As deputy chair, Dr Gallagher regularly met with the Minister (Hon. Matthew Kean) and DPIE executive to implement species protection and regulation across the state.
  • contributor, NSW Saving our Species (SoS) prioritisation framework committee (2020). This committee guides the evaluation of the SoS program, helping to shape the future of the conservation program.

Links with non-government groups or networks

  • large industry stakeholders. Dr Gallagher is currently chief investigator on a large ($10.5 million) collaborative project with Horticulture Innovation Australia aimed at creating resilient urban green space under climate change.
  • start-up businesses. Dr Gallagher has ongoing collaborations with innovative new companies working in environmental management. For instance, she works closely with AirSeed Technologies to trial and test technology for large-scale, drone-based precision seeding in revegetation projects.

My Projects

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