Dr Cass Hunter

Indigenous Social-Ecological Researcher

Contact details:

  • PO BOX 12139
    CAIRNS QLD 4870 AUSTRALIA

Biography

Cass joined CSIRO in 1998 as an Indigenous cadet with interests to learn about the benefits of science. She is now a research scientist for the Coastal Development and Management program in Oceans and Atmosphere, Cairns. Her role as an Indigenous social-ecologist is to develop visualisation and predictive tools to address priority issues of Indigenous communities and government agencies in northern Australia and our near neighbours in PNG and Indonesia. An important part of her engagement role is sharing her experiences and lessons learnt with the broader public.

Dr Cass Hunter is an Indigenous woman with connections to Far North Queensland. Her grandfather is a Kuku Yalanji man and her grandmother is a Torres Strait Islander woman. She is interested in making research more inclusive, accessible, and relevant. Her research interests are interdisciplinary and broadly focused on the development of participatory tools to support sustainable livelihoods and ecosystems. She is motivated by the opportunities to increase Indigenous-led research that is relevant to communities, has benefits, and builds capacity in new areas.

Other Interests

Cass is keen to work in the science field to continually learn how to improve ‘real world’ effectiveness of developed approaches. My interests evolve as I tackle the challenge of applying scientific learning to achieve relevant outcomes for our communities. She values relationships that foster shared learning.

My main personal interest is enjoying family time with our boys and discovering new locations to go camping. I'm also keen to learn more about photography because when I look back on life the photos can express the good times I shared with others.

Current Roles


  • Engagement with locals and regional stakeholders to help deliver on livelihood objectives for the Torres Strait


  • Socio-ecological considerations for holistic management and adaptation to environmental changes


  • Collaborative and iterative learning approach to assessing future impacts on ecosystem services and livelihoods


  • Improving the response to future threats based on empowering locals, such as, accommodating the social and cultural values of the community and supporting deeper conversations with policy makers

Academic Qualifications

  • 2000

    Bachelor of Environmental Science
    Griffith University

  • 2001

    Honours - Stock assessment project
    University of Queensland

  • 2010

    Doctor of Philosophy - Quantitative Marine Science
    University of Tasmania

  • 2015

    Indigenous Post-doctoral Fellow
    James Cook University

Professional Experiences

  • 1998-2001

    Indigenous cadet
    CSIRO

  • January 2002-December 2002

    Experimental Scientist
    CSIRO

  • 2003-2009

    PhD Student
    Univsersity of Tasmania

  • August 2009-April 2010

    Impact Modeller
    CSIRO

  • August 2010-Current

    Post-doctoral researcher
    James Cook University

  • September 2015-Current

    Indigenous social-ecological researcher
    CSIRO

Achievements and Awards

  • 1999

    Academic Excellence
    Griffith University

Grants

  • 2003-2006

    TAFI Postgraduate Award. Assessing the impact of intraspecific and interspecific interactions on Tasmanian rock lobster (Jasus edwardsii) caught in traps: analysis and modelling. Supervisors: Malcolm Haddon and Keith Sainsbury

  • 2003-2005

    CSIRO top-up PhD scholarship. Assessing the impact of intraspecific and interspecific interactions on Tasmanian rock lobster (Jasus edwardsii) caught in traps: analysis and modelling. Supervisors: Malcolm Haddon and Keith Sainsbury

  • 2010-Current

    Australian Research Council. Developing predictive tools for rapid assessment of multiple impacts, including climate change, on the marine ecosystem of Torres Strait (Australia). Co-investigators: S Skewes, J Butler, S Turton, D Brewer. $180k