The following list of people loosely comprises the “ecosystem modelling team” at the Hawkesbury Institute for the Environment. We work closely with the other research scientists at HIE, with the goal of building from experimental data to develop truly evidence-based models that can predict forest ecosystem function.

Academic Staff

  • Professor Belinda Medlyn (moved to HIE in 2015 from Macquarie University)
  • Professor Ben Smith (moved to HIE in 2018 from Lund University)

Post-docs + Programmer

The Dynamics of Australian Vegetation (DAVE) Laureate project team consists of a number of postdocs + a programmer:

  • Dr Juergen Knauer is modelling the distribution of C4 grasses in Australia
  • Dr Assaf Inbar is modelling the distribution of Australian forest types
  • Dr Clare Stephens is modelling hydrology and water relations in Australian ecosystems
  • Dr Laura Williams is studying forest ecology with the aim of parameterising Australian forest types. Laura also has a separate project with Jeannine Cavendar-Bares studying biodiversity-ecosystem function using hyperspectral remote sensing
  • Dr Lina Teckentrup is modelling bushfire fuel loads in Australia using machine-learning and DVM approaches, in collaboration with Prof Matthias Boer
  • Drew Holzworth is our ace computer programmer

Postgraduate students

  • Min Zhao (primary supervisor Belinda Medlyn) is measuring and modelling carbon cycling at the EucFACE experiment
  • Aaranya Sekaran (primary supervisor Belinda Medlyn) is measuring and modelling dynamics in Australia’s arid zone, in collaboration with Arid Recovery and Bush Heritage Australia
  • Sonam Dhargay (primary supervisor Belinda Medlyn) is studying forest/grassland interactions in Australia using Lidar data
  • Camille Sicangco (primary supervisor Belinda Medlyn) has a Fulbright scholarship to study plant responses to heatwaves
  • Nuwanthi Arampola (primary supervisor Ben Smith) is using remote sensing to study drought-related mortality
  • Klaske van Wijngaarden (primary supervisor Ben Smith) is studying branchwood dynamics at EucFACE
  • Prashant Paudel (primary supervisor Ben Smith) is modelling forest ecosystems in Northern Australia and Nepal
  • Ellie Nichols (primary supervisor Brendan Choat) is measuring drought dieback and recovery in Eucalypts
  • Victoria Perez Martinez (primary supervisor Paul Rymer) is working on drought responses in widespread and threatened Eucalypts
  • Krish Singh is undertaking a Masters by Research bringing data science approaches to leaf area dynamics


  • Arjunan Krishnananthaselvan (primary supervisor Belinda Medlyn) completed his PhD in 2023. Title: Measuring and modelling responses of Australian grasses to droughtArjunan is now a lecturer at University of Vavuniya, Sri Lanka.
  • Elisa Stefaniak (primary supervisor Belinda Medlyn) completed her PhD in 2023. Title: Modelling optimal plant carbon storageElisa is now a postdoc at IIASA in Vienna, Austria.
  • Alice Gauthey (primary supervisor Brendan Choat) completed her PhD in 2022. Title:  Non-invasive imaging of drought-induced cavitation in plants Alice is now a postdoc at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology.
  • Vinod Jacob (primary supervisor David Tissue) completed his PhD in 2022. Title: Gas exchange and hydraulic strategies of pasture species under climate change . Vin is now a post-doc at HIE in the Centre of Excellence for Plant Success.
  • Shiva Khanal (primary supervisor Matthias Boer) completed his PhD in 2023. Title: Objective quantification of Nepal’s forest carbon stocks in support of the REDD+ ProgrammeShiva returned to his position in the Nepalese Department of Forest Research.
  • Zineb Choury (primary supervisor Kristine Crous) completed her PhD in 2022. Title: Determining the acclimation capacity of Australian rainforest trees growing in warm and cool climates.
  • Dr Mingkai Jiang  did a postdoc with us working on models of nutrient cycling processes in forest ecosystems. He then won an ARC DECRA fellowship. In 2021 he took up a lectureship at Zhejiang University, China.
  • Dr Jinyan Yang completed his PhD in 2018 under the supervision of Prof. Belinda Medlyn. Thesis: Modelling carbon uptake of Australian evergreen ecosystems under rising CO2 concentration and water limitation. He then completed two post-docs, firstly studying impacts of heat and drought on phenology of grassland species, then using machine learning to predict future forest fuel loads. He is now based at CSIRO in Canberra.
  • Dr Ximeng Li completed his PhD in 2019 under the supervision of Prof David Tissue. Thesis: Hydraulic traits and drought mortality risk of tree species. Li is now a lecturer at the College of Life and Environmental Science at Minzu University of China.
  • Dr Kashif Mahmud was a post-doc with us 2016-2019 using data assimilation to quantify carbon allocation to storage in tree species. He moved to a post-doc at the Environmental Resilience Institute at Indiana University, then to a lectureship at Midwestern State University.
  • Dr Dushan Kumarathunge completed his PhD in 2019 under the supervision of Prof Belinda Medlyn. Thesis: Predicting the effect of temperature on tree growth. After completing his PhD, Dushan returned to his position as Research Scientist at the Coconut Research Institute of Sri Lanka, then to a lectureship at University of Ruhuna, Sri Lanka. 
  • Dr Alexis Renchon completed his PhD in 2019 under the supervision of Prof Elise Pendall. Thesis: Constraints on ecosystem carbon and water flux estimates in a temperate Australian evergreen forest. Alexis went on to a post-doc at Argonne National Labs in Chicago working on ecology and machine learning, and then to Caltech to work on the CLIMA model. 
  • Assoc. Prof Remko Duursma left HIE after 10 years in April 2018, to embark on new adventures in his native Netherlands. Remko’s contribution to HIE was extraordinary and he is much missed!
  • Dr Martin De Kauwe: Post-doc extraordinaire, Martin worked on two ARC-funded projects studying elevated CO2 responses and drought mortality. In 2017 he joined the ARC Centre of Excellence for Climate System Science, and thence to a lectureship at University of Bristol, UK.
  • Dr Yaojie Lu completed his PhD in 2017 under the supervision of Dr Remko Duursma. Thesis: Optimal and competitive stomatal behaviour. Lu went on to a post-doc position with Xue Feng at U. Minnesota
  • Dr Courtney Campany completed his PhD in 2016 under the supervision of Dr Remko Duursma. Thesis: Resource allocation in Eucalyptus. Court went on to a post-doc with Eddie Watkins at Colgate University


  • Dr Geertje van der Heijden (University of Nottingham) visited for 1 day (!) in 2020 and finally returned in 2022 to measure lianas at EucFACE.
  • Dr Catherine Massonnet (INRA Champenoux) received funding from Campus France to visit for one year from October 2018 to model drought mortality in beech
  • PhD student Daniel Nadal i Sala (University of Barcelona) visited Sept – Nov 2018 and applied the GOTILWA model to Eucalyptus growth under water stress
  • Dr Silvia Caldararu (Max-Planck Institute for Biogeochemistry, Jena) visited in October 2017 as part of a DAAD-funded exchange on modelling nutrient limitations of forest growth. Silvia is supervised by Dr Soenke Zaehle, who visited in Feb 2018
  • Dr Otavio Campoe (Universidade Federal de Santa Catarina, Brazil) visited Jan-Feb 2017 to work with Dr Remko Duursma on a project to parameterize MAESPA model using an awesome dataset from a multi-site experimental network of Eucalyptus plantations across Brazil.
  • Dr Katrin Fleischer (Sao Paolo State University, Brazil) visited us Dec 2016 to collaborate on modelling Amazon FACE
  • Professor Chris Williams (Clarke University, MA) visited us on sabbatical Sept 2015 – June 2016
  • PhD student Juergen Knauer (Max Planck Institute, Jena) visited for 3 months in 2016 to work on modelling canopy water use efficiency

Past PhD students (Macquarie University)

  • Sofia Baig (completed 2015) Thesis: Elevated CO2 effects on vegetation: informing modelling through meta-analysis and targeted experiments.
  • Shuangxi Zhou (completed 2014) Thesis: Quantifying and modelling the responses of leaf gas exchange to drought.  Shuangxi is now a post-doctoral researcher at CSIRO in Adelaide.
  • Jeff Kelly (completed 2013) Thesis: Productivity and water use of Australian tree species under climate change. Jeff is now a post-doctoral researcher at U Alberta in Canada.
  • Ashehad Ali (completed 2012) Thesis: Modelling elevated carbon dioxide impacts on plant competition. Ashehad did a post-doc at Los Alamos National Labs and is now at Harvard working in Paul Moorcroft’s lab.
  • Silvia Dezi (completed 2011, co-tutelle, University of Bologna) Thesis: Modelling the effects of nitrogen deposition and carbon dioxide enrichment on forest carbon balance
The last CAFE M @ MQ: Martin De Kauwe, Trevor Keenan, Sofia Baig, Yan-Shih Lin, Shuangxi Zhou, Doug Kelley

The last CAFE M @ MQ: Martin De Kauwe, Trevor Keenan, Sofia Baig, Yan-Shih Lin, Shuangxi Zhou, Doug Kelley

Past visitors (Macquarie University)

  • Stephen Sitch (2013) University of Exeter, U.K.
  • Soenke Zaehle (2013) MPI Jena, Germany
  • Anthony Walker (2013) Oak Ridge National Labs, USA
  • Lina Mercado (2011, 2012, 2013 and 2014) University of Exeter, U.K.
  • Thomas Aubier (2013) Intern, Ecole Normale Superieure, France
  • Mikko Peltoniemi (2011) University of Helsinki, Finland
  • Virginie Moreaux (2010) University of Bordeaux II, France
  • Lasse Tarvainen (2010) University of Gothenburg, Sweden

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