Associate Professor David Kennedy

dsc01269David is a coastal geomorphologist and spends his time studying: rocky shores and platformscoral reefs and islands; sandy beachesgravel beaches; and muddy estuaries. Part of his research is also understanding the impact of  storms, tsunami ,  sea level change, sedimentation, and human modification on these coastal landforms.

He is currently chair of the rocky coast working group for the International Association of Geomorphologists as well as actively engaged in Australia societies such as the Australian Coastal Society.

Cutting-edge methodological design and practice are central to his research and teaching. This includes UAV/Drone and aerial laser surveying, through to isotopic chemical methods and traditional geomorphic hole-digging. He is also at the forefront of eLearning having received several grants for the development of online teaching tools.

David’s research is highly applicable beyond the academic environment having presented invited public talks at community forums throughout Victoria and being interviewed widely for national and international media. Putting research into practice is a core endeavour of this work.

Dr Sarah McSweeney


Sarah is a coastal geomorphologist who studies estuaries, beaches, and coastal morphodynamics. Her research to date has focused on estuary processes and evolution with an emphasis on estuaries which intermittently close to the ocean (ICOLLs). Sarah’s work also examines how coastal environments respond to changing wave and climate conditions, with an application in understanding past evolution as well as predicting future change. Sarah has worked in New Zealand and Australia and undertakes a range of field work, spatial analysis, and wave modelling. Her current research includes projects on: estuary entrance dynamics in Victoria, estuarine infill and catchment change in Australia, evolution and tidal dynamics in Queensland (Great Sandy Strait), and storm and wave impacts on sandy coasts in Australia.

Associate Professor Mike Hilton


Visiting fellow from Otago University


Dr Teresa Konlechner

dsc00886I am a coastal geomorphologist with connections to ecology and conservation management. My research interests lie at the interface of physical geography and ecology with a focus on the response of bio-geomorphic systems to disturbance. My research to date has been largely concerned with dunal and sandy coasts, since the morphology and dynamics of coastal dunes are governed in large part by the distribution, density and growth forms of associated plant communities and species. Recent projects have involved the measurement of aeolian sand transport and deposition over vegetated foredunes, the impact of invasive sand-binding plants on dune morphology and ecology, and the development of methodologies to evaluate the geomorphic success of coastal dune restorations. Current research examines the sensitivity of the Victorian coastline to erosion under future climates.

Chloe Morris

Chloe_MorrisChloe is a coastal geomorphologist and numerical modeler who is interested in the medium- to long-term behaviour of coastal environments. She uses advanced modelling techniques to understand the role of driving environmental conditions in shaping the coastal system, including changing wave climate patterns and sea level rise. Understanding the response of coasts to changes in these conditions is key to predicting their future evolution and the potential impact this could have on enviro socioeconomic factors. Her current research forms part of the wider Victorian Coastal Monitoring Program (VCMP) and is focused on using innovative modelling techniques to predict the future morphodynamics of the Victorian coastline, south east Australia.

Dr Elisa Zavadil


PhD students

Pete Kamstra


My research focuses on which elements of the rocky coast environment are perceived as being hazardous and how those perceptions relate with physical elements to produce risk. Using high-risk locations in coastal regions of Victoria and New South Wales, Australia, as the case, my research investigates the complex socio-environmental relations that produce risk. In particular, my work emphasises the deep contextualised understanding of risk that is developed through first-hand experience.

Rhiannon Bezore

img20160308171610-2I am a second year PhD student studying the evolution of rocky coasts over multiple glacial cycles. My work focuses on the modern coast of Victoria, as well as paleo-shorelines found offshore that have been preserved below modern sea level. One of the most exciting discoveries made during this work has been that of the Drowned Apostles, a group of 60,000 year old sea stacks found at 50m depth offshore of the modern 12 Apostles along the Great Ocean Road. By studying these submerged features and their contemporary counterparts onshore, an evolutionary model of how coasts form and evolve over time will be created not only for Victoria but for rocky coasts across the world.

Ralph Roob

ralph-roob-image-1.jpgI have recently commenced my research program with the University of Melbourne on a part time basis while still employed as an Environmental Engineer with the City of Greater Geelong. My research aims to explore the application of ecological engineering in coastal areas to address coastal hazards in environmentally sensitive areas and asses the benefits of ecosystem services that these approaches may deliver. As part of managing natural resources, in particular coastal areas on the Bellarine Peninsula and Corio Bay, my work involves the delivery of capital works some of which aim to address the impacts of coastal hazards that result in erosion and / or landslides. As a key part of my research I will be applying a living shoreline approach by incorporating the establishment of an offshore breakwater in the form of an artificial reef and on shore treatments to stabilise the foreshore and consolidate the primary dune / berm.

Marita McGuirk

marita.jpgI am researching the role of vegetation in foredune morphology. Predicted scenarios for climate change include rising sea levels and increased storm events, I am interested in studying the role of vegetation in mediating erosion on the backshore. My study sites will be located at Summerland’s Bay on Phillip Island Victoria.




Jinjuan Gao

JinjuanMy research topic is sand dunes along the Victoria coast. Sand dunes are of significant ecological importance and could also be the most economical natural defence against coastal erosion caused by storms and rising sea levels. My study will investigate the changes of sand dunes in Victoria area during the last several decades. Specifically, changes in bare sands and vegetated dunes as well as their movement rates will be quantified. To explain these changes, both natural factors and potential human influences will be examined. Modelling will also be applied to predict trends in sand dune change.

Runjie Yuan

img_3905My research topic is about the seasonality of hourly-scale surface changes on shore platform. With the traversing micro-erosion meter (TMEM), the elevation of rock surface can be measured. I’m exploring the drivers for the short-term micro-topography change. By studying this phenomenon, it will facilitate to better explore the effect of short-term changes on T/MEM measurements, the calculation of vertical weathering rates and the development of shore platform at larger spatial and temporal scales.

Mitch Baum


Masters Students

Emily Jordan

B003240-R2-32-5I am a current Master of Environments student passionate about conservation and restoration of fauna. I am particularly interested in human-animal conflict and associated impacts of anthropogenic change. My research will focus on projected climate change impacts, such as sea level rise, and subsequent impacts to coastal species that utilise these habitats on the Phillip Island coastline, Victoria. Vulnerability of species will be determined by criticality of habitat utilised within life cycle processes, and sensitivity to geomorphic change, based on global models of sea level rise.

Cara Hull


Research Assistants

Karina Sorrell

ljpi-2-e1536560908293.jpgKarina is a research assistant in The Coastal Lab. Primarily, Karina works on the Victorian Coastal Monitoring Program. This project involves training members from local community groups to fly drones, allowing coastal erosion, and relevant management, to be monitored and assessed. Karina holds her Remote Pilot License (RePL), so is licensed to fly drones/Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) under CASA. Previously, Karina completed her honours research project at Monash University and Phillip Island Nature Parks. For her project, she looked at the usefulness of UAVs compared to traditional counting techniques, for monitoring fur seal population numbers, at colonies along the Victorian coastline.

Past Lab Members

Cam Adams

Lynda Hanlon

Maree Husny

Harry Knox

Hanna Kowalczyk

Megan Lowe

Jem Milkins

Nick Mulcahy

Thomas Savige

Jack Solomon