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)


  • Dr Mingkai Jiang is developing models of nutrient cycling processes in forest ecosystems
  • Dr Jinyan Yang recently completed his PhD with us and is now a post-doc studying impacts of heat and drought on phenology of grassland species

PhD students

  • Zineb Choury (primary supervisor Kristine Crous) is studying temperature responses in tropical Australian trees
  • Elisa Stefaniak (primary supervisor Belinda Medlyn) is working on plant resource allocation strategies
  • Alice Gauthey (primary supervisor Brendan Choat) is working on non-invasive imaging of cavitation in plants
  • Vinod Jacob (primary supervisor David Tissue) is studying plant gas exchange in the Pastures and Climate Extremes experiment
  • Shiva Khanal (primary supervisor Matthias Boer) is quantifying forest cover and carbon stocks in Nepal
  • Arjunan Krishnananthaselvan (primary supervisor Belinda Medlyn) is working on modelling grassland responses to heat and drought
  • Victoria Perez Martinez (primary supervisor Paul Rymer) is working on drought responses in widespread and threatened Eucalypts
  • Magnolia Song (primary supervisor Belinda Medlyn) is working on carbon balance of Australian forests


  • 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 has moved to a post-doc at the Environmental Resilience Institute at Indiana 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. 
  • 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 is now a post-doc at Argonne National Labs in Chicago working on ecology and machine learning. 
  • 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
  • Dr Yaojie Lu completed his PhD in 2017 under the supervision of Dr Remko Duursma. Thesis: Optimal and competitive stomatal behaviour. Lu has taken 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 is now a post-doc with Eddie Watkins at Colgate University


  • Dr Catherine Massonnet (INRA Champenoux) has 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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