Kathy Townsend (USC)

Kathy Townsend

PhD (University of Queensland)

Lecturer / Research Fellow The University of the Sunshine Coast


Dr. Kathy Townsend is a researcher at The University of the Sunshine Coast. Previously based on North Stradbroke Island (off of Brisbane), and originally from Canada, Kathy has been working and living on Australia’s tropical research stations for over 20 years.

Kathy’s professional interests include marine conservation and human impacts on the marine environment. She has successfully won multiple Australian Research Council grants, working with a broad range of multidisciplinary teams. She has published in both international and regional journals and regularly presents at scientific conferences. Because of this, she has been invited to provide expert comment on policy issues across all levels of government.

Kathy is a great believer in bridge the gap between academia and the general community. Kathy has established multiple community orientated research programs involving scientist, industry and community contributions: winning the prestigious Peter Doherty Award for Science and Education in 2010. She regularly gives public talks, writes popular science articles, and provides comment for the media. Her work has been featured in National Geographic, Australian Geographic, BBC and ABC.As lead scientist from Turtles in Trouble, Kathy and her colleagues have been untangling the impact that discarded rubbish has on Australia’s sea turtle populations. Through her work, it has been found that over 35% of the sea turtles found within this region are dying due to discarded marine rubbish.

She has been was presented with multiple awards for her work in this area. Including:

  • nominated for an Australia Day Award,
  • receiving both a Healthy Waterways Research Award
  • and an Earthwatch/Goldring Marine Emerging Scientist Fellowship and nominated for a QLD Premier’s Sustainability Award.