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Dr Paul De Barro

Research Director


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Contact details:

GPO BOX 2583


Dr Paul De Barro is a Senior Principal Research Scientist and is the Research Director of the CSIRO Health & Biosecurity's Risk Evaluation and Preparedness Program. The Programs’s approximately 60 researchers focus their research on developing a better understanding of the biological, physical and human processes that lead to the establishment of species that pose a biosecurity risk for Australia, and, through advances in understanding how risk is perceived and managed, prioritization, detection, predictive modeling and system analysis, help reduce the risk to Australia’s people, agricultural, marine and natural systems. We do this by supporting sound decisions and investments, by engaging with communities and through developing smarter surveillance systems and technologies to support earlier detection and intervention.

Research capabilities span ecology, economics, evolutionary biology, risk analysis, robotics, sensors, image processing, signal processing, communications, computational modelling, data mining, spatio-temporal modelling, diagnostics, epidemiology, vector biology, complex systems science, assessing the impact of technology, understanding and modelling social systems, motivating positive behaviour change and exploring pathways to connect people and policy.

Dr De Barro joined CSIRO in 1994 and established an internationally recognised research program focused on managing the silverleaf whitefly (Bemisia tabaci MEAM1). Paul now leads a diverse research program of around 70 researchers, postdocs and support staff. The research undertaken by the group ranges from risk analysis through to risk mitigation and incursion response and optimisation, but has at its core the development of implemental solutions to real-world problems. The research undertaken draws upon skills encompassed by risk analysis, network analysis, statistical analysis, optimisation modelling, advanced biotechnology approaches, phylogenetics, plant, invertebrate and vertebrate biology and ecology and social and economic research. In addition to his research on whiteflies, he has been closely involved in research on biosecurity threat identification and prioritisation. As part of this research he developed an interest in risk analysis and applied that to the assessment of risks posed by the release of Wolbachia infected mosquito, Aedes aegypti. This has since seen a growing interest in the association between vector ecology and human health. He is now working with a team of CSIRO researchers developing new research initiatives on Vector Ecology and Human Health, the use of aerial and marine remote operated vehicles as surveillance platforms, use of social media in biosecurity intelligence gathering and communication, various aspects of risk analysis, marine biosecurity and the management of fruit flies.

Dr De Barro was awarded a Bachelor of Agricultural Science, with First Class Honours, in Entomology and Biochemistry, from the University of Adelaide, South Australia in 1985 and later a Doctor of Philosophy, also from the University of Adelaide, in 1992. As a result of his PhD, Paul was awarded a George Murray Fellowship which he used to undertake a postdoctoral fellowship at the University of Southampton, UK where he researched aphid ecology. Here he used the newly developed DNA fingerprinting technique to explore the population genetic structures of aphid populations. While there he teamed up with a fellow ecologist, Tom Sherratt, now at Carleton University, Canada to further research on the molecular ecology of aphid populations. In 1994, Paul returned to Australia where he joined CSIRO in Canberra where he was based until 1999 when he moved to CSIRO’s research facility in Indooroopilly, Brisbane. In 2014 Paul and his whitefly research team was awarded the CSIRO Chairman's Medal. He is now based at the Ecoscience Precinct in Dutton Park, Brisbane.

Other Interests

Doctor Who and red wine particularly Pinot Noir,
Biosecurity as a Business Opportunity:

Current Roles

  • Research Director
    Health & Biosecurity

Achievements and Awards

  • 2014

    Chairman's Medal

  • 2007

    Medal For Research Achievement

Other highlights

  • 2013

    Plenary, First International Whitefly Symposium. Kolymbari, Crete

  • 2013

    Invited guest speaker, Washington State Univesity, Washington, USA

  • 2013

    Invited guest speaker, UC Davis, California, USA

  • 2012

    Keynote, Integrated pest management symposium and review of the Directorate of Research and Development, Abu Dhabi Food Control Authority. Abu Dhabi Food Control Authority

  • 2012

    Keynote, National Institute for Biotechnology and Genetic Engineering (NIBGE), Faisalabad.

  • 2011

    Keynote, 4th European Whitefly Symposium. Hebrew University of Jerusalem

  • 2011

    Invited, CFIA Science Symposium 2011. Better Models - Better Assessments: The Use of Models in Plant Health and Biotechnology Risk Assessment, Ottawa, Canada.

  • 2010

    Invited, 11th International Symposium on the biosafety of genetically modified organisms. Buenos Aires, Argentina

  • 2010

    Keynote, 2010, International Symposium on future directions in Bemisia research, Zhejiang University, Hangzhou, China

  • 2010

    Ivited, 4th International Pest Risk Modelling & Mapping Workshop, Port Douglas, Australia

  • 2009

    Invited, 2009, Integrated Management of Dates in the Sultanate of Oman. Muscat, Oman

  • 2009

    Keynote, 5th International Bemisia Workshop, Guangzhou, China

  • 2009

    Keynote, International Congress on Biological Invasion, Fuzhou, China. Plenary with Liu Shu-Sheng and David Crowder

  • 2007

    Invited, 2nd International Barcodes Conference, Taipei, Taiwan

  • 2006

    Invited, 4th International Bemisia Workshop, Florida, USA

  • 2005

    Plenary, APEC Invasive Alien Species Workshop, Beijing, China

  • 2004

    Keynote, European Whitefly Symposium II, Cavtat, Croatia

  • 2003

    Keynote, 3rd International Bemisia Conference, Barcelona

  • 2001

    Keynote, European Whitefly Symposium, Sicily, Italy

  • 2000

    Invited, XXI International Congress of Entomology, Iguassu, Brazil

  • 1997

    Keynote, Third Asia Pacific Entomology Congress, Taichung, Taiwan