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Our team

Our team


James Butler

Dr. James Butler is a sustainability scientist with a background in agricultural economics, terrestrial, freshwater and marine ecology gained in southern Africa, Europe and Australia. He joined CSIRO in 2006, and is based in Brisbane with the Livelihoods and Adaptive Development Team. His research analyses complex development problems in the Asia-Pacific region, with a focus on trans-boundary issues linking northern Australia, Indonesia and Papua New Guinea. He applies concepts of social-ecological systems, resilience, transformation and well-being to explore alternative livelihood development pathways and trade-offs through participatory action research. Consequently, he has an interest in agriculture, fisheries, health, biosecurity, aquaculture, biodiversity, human-wildlife conflict and their governance. James enjoys integrating the varied knowledge of science disciplines, communities and policy-makers to generate systems understanding, innovation and change. His current research areas are adaptation pathways planning processes, the Sustainable Development Goals, regional trans-boundary security risks, and the Coral Triangle Initiative on Coral Reefs, Fisheries and Food Security. Learn more about James.

Erin Bohensky

Dr. Erin Bohensky is a sustainability scientist who researches engagement with and adaptation to past, present and future social and environmental change. Since 2002 when she began her Ph.D. at the University of Pretoria on transformation in South Africa’s water sector, and led a component of the Southern African Millennium Ecosystem Assessment, she has studied the links between societies and ecosystems at multiple scales, acknowledging the multiple epistemologies involved in doing this. A theme of her work has been to apply mixed methods (quantitative and qualitative) approaches to interrogate concepts of resilience and transformation in social and ecological systems, ranging from urban and regional Australian societies affected by natural disasters to remote Torres Strait Island communities facing pressure from climate, economic and cultural change. Much of her work involves designing and running participatory processes for knowledge co-production focused on future visioning, and more recently, the socio-political dynamics that surround these processes, and evaluation of their outcomes. She has an interest in extending the learning from this research to society more broadly – including its younger members – and works through the Scientists-in-Schools program to bring the science of ‘futures thinking’ to primary school classrooms.  Learn more about Erin.

Lucy Carter

Lucy Carter has a background in international health, agriculture and nutrition links, and applied ethics. Her work helps to design, facilitate and learn from stakeholder engagement processes which aim to address complex problems across health and biosecurity, agricultural development and food security domains. She also spends time investigating food and health systems approaches to improving livelihoods. Recent work includes understanding social inclusion and equity considerations for marginalised groups undergoing major transitions. Learn more about Lucy.

Michaela Cosijn

Michaela Cosijn has a M.Sc In integrated Environmental Sciences from Southampton University. She has over 20 years of experience in environmental management, natural hazard identification and risk management; and international development enhancing livelihood programmes. She joined CSIRO in 2013, after living and working in Mozambique for 12 years and New Zealand for 4.5 years. Her key skills are in (i) climate adaptation and proofing of programmes (ii) pro-poor value chain development in the agriculture and fisheries sector with a focus on gender integration; (iii) agricultural innovation systems; (iv) establishing monitoring and evaluation systems; (v) participatory planning processes; and (vi) situational assessments and associated risk evaluations. She has worked in sub-Saharan Africa, West Africa, Asia, Australia and New Zealand. Learn more about Michaela.

Toni Darbas

Dr Toni Darbas completed her BA Honours (1992) and PhD (2002) at the UNSW in the Schools of Sociology and Science and Technology Studies, leaving the university sector to work as a CSIRO Scientist in 2004. Her work focuses upon institutional analysis, development effectiveness, gender and rural livelihoods in Southeast and South Asia. Key foci include building pro-poor value chains and extension systems to foster climate change adaptations such as conservation agriculture and integrated pest management, through nested multi-stakeholder processes and participatory action research. Her current projects focus on the feminisation of agriculture and water-food-energy nexus in South Asia. Learn more about Toni. Learn more about Toni.

Carol Farbotko

Carol Farbotko is a cultural geographer with interests in advancing equity and valuing culture in changing environments. Her work has focussed on understanding the cultural politics of environmental governance, particularly the way problems are defined and solutions debated, and the consequences for marginalised groups. Research topics have included environmental migration, climate change adaptation, consumption, biosecurity, forestry and water. Learn more about Carol.

Samantha Stone-Jovicich

Dr. Samantha Stone-Jovicich has a background in environmental sociology and social-cultural anthropology. Her current research focuses on understanding how innovative and creative approaches (such as cross-scale partnerships, social learning processes, and innovation systems approaches) that have emerged to address global social-environmental challenges can be designed and implemented for greater impacts. Her primary interest is in the science of systemic change and in strengthening the role science can play in contributing to wide-scale and lasting impacts by rethinking research institutions’ and scientists’ roles, research practices, and the communication of scientific knowledge. Before joining CSIRO in 2006, she spent 10 years working on forest-based conservation and development issues in Latin America, primarily in Brazil. In her PhD research and as a consultant, her work focused on the impacts of political, economic, and cultural structures of inequity at the global-, regional-, and community-levels on rural people dependent on forest resources, and their understanding of and responses to these impacts. Learn more about Samantha.

Liana Williams

Liana is a human geographer concerned with social and institutional implications of agricultural and rural development in South East Asia. Recent work has focused on the role of research-private sector partnerships in facilitating smallholder friendly innovation; and how to support sustainable, positive impact from agricultural research for development projects. While working at CSIRO she is also undertaking a PhD at the University of Queensland concerned with the processes and impacts of taking agricultural research projects to scale. Learn more about Liana.