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Dr Kirsten Maclean

Principal Research Scientist

Contact details:

GPO BOX 2583


Kirsten Maclean is a Human Geographer who works as part of the Sustainability Pathways program based in Brisbane, Australia. As recognised leader in Human Geography and Sustainability Science, she uses diverse theory and participatory methodologies to co-produce knowledge and governance of complex social ecological systems undergoing change. In particular, she investigates the role of diverse people, their knowledge and values in relation to their natural and cultural resource governance, interests and aspirations in regional and rural Australia.

Much of this work is developed in partnership with government agencies, industry bodies and community and Indigenous organisations to ensure it responds to relevant national, state and place-based challenges. Importantly and as appropriate, research is often conducted with Indigenous co-research partners who actively care for their traditional country via diverse governance strategies. Such work also aims to address the challenges of, and harness future opportunities for Reconciliation, to support Indigenous leaders and their research and innovation agendas, and to ‘Close the Gap’, all identified as areas of great importance by CSIRO and Australian Society.

Past research has developed processes and methods to integrate diverse knowledge, values and interests for improved governance outcomes in the domains of agriculture (in relation to: biosecurity; and the development of the Indigenous-led Bush Products sector, northern Australia), water, and biodiversity (including co-benefits of Indigenous cultural fire management). The outcomes of such research have been used by state and federal governments, peak industry organisations, non-government organisations and Indigenous and community organisations operating across these domains.

Current Roles

  • Team Leader
    Indigenous Science and Knowledge Team

  • Project Leader
    Biocultural assessment framework (risks and opportunities) of Reef Restoration and Adaptation Program technologies (part of RRAP Best Practice Engagement program of work led at CSIRO by Bruce Taylor, CSIRO)

  • Project Leader (CSIRO)
    Moving the Middle: Empowering land managers to act in complex rural landscapes (led by Manaaki Whenua Landcare Research, funded by NZ Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment)

  • Project Leader
    Research Support for Traditional Owner-led Integrated Monitoring and Reporting using the Strong People-Strong Country Framework, Great Barrier Reef

  • Team member
    Integrated Monitoring and Reporting of Stewardship, on the Great Barrier Reef

  • Supervisor CSIRO Early Career Postdoctural Fellow (Indigenous perspectives of SynBio)
    Dr Kirsty Wissing

  • Team Member
    Indigenous Futures Strategic Intiaitive

  • Advisor, JCU Indigenous Research Fellow
    Dr. Vincent Baukhaus, Reef Traditional Owner co-design, values and governance assessment for Crown of Thorn starfish on the Great Barrier Reef

  • Advisor, ANU-CSIRO PhD student (Indigenous women's bush product enterprises)
    Ms. Giselle Cruzado Melendez (Fenner School of Environment & Society)

Academic Qualifications

  • 2007

    Doctor of Philosophy (Human Geography)
    The Australian National University

  • 2001

    Masters of Philosophy (Geography: Environment and Development)
    The University of Cambridge

  • 1999

    Bachelor of Arts (Human Geography, Sociology)
    Monash University

  • 1999

    Bachelor of Science (Physical Geography, Conservation Biology)
    Monash University

Professional Experiences

  • 2022-pres

    Principal Research Scientist

  • 2015-2022

    Senior Research Scientist

  • 2009-2015

    Research Scientist

  • 2007-2009

    Post Doctoral Research Fellow
    The University of Queensland

  • 2006-2007

    Fisheries Management Officer (Thursday Island, Torres Strait)
    The Australian Fisheries Management Authority

Achievements and Awards

  • 2022-2022

    Excellence in leadership - facilitating, connecting and enabling (runner-up)

  • 2022-2022

    Excellence in clear communication of sustainability science (runner-up)

  • 2021-2021

    Caring for Colleagues (Managing our Boundaries team)
    CSIRO Land and Water

  • 2021-pres

    Homeward Bound Women in STEMM Leadership initiative and community
    Homeward Bound

  • 2018-2023

    Julius Career Award

  • 2017-2018

    Ruby Payne Scott Award

  • 2015-2015

    Award for successful Project Delivery

  • 2011-2011

    Staff Development Award

  • 2008-2008

    Desert Knowledge Innovation Award (Team Member)
    Northern Territory Government


  • 2022-2025

    NZ Endeavour Fund (partnership led by Manaaki Whenua Landcare Research, 'Moving the Middle: Empowering land managers to act in complex rural landscapes')

  • 2022-2024

    Great Barrier Reef Foundation (Integrated Monitoring and Reporting of Stewardship on the Great Barrier Reef)

  • 2021-2024

    Great Barrier Reef Foundation (JCU Research Fellow, Reef Traditional Owners and Crown of Throwns Starfish on the Great Barrier Reef)

  • 2021-2024

    CSIRO Early Research Career Fellowship (Synthetic Biology and Indigenous leadership)

  • 2021-2021

    CRC for Transitions in Mining Economies (Foundational Projects: Indigenous strategic inclusion; Transitions, climate change, Indigenous perspectives)

  • 2019-2020

    CSIRO L&W Acorn Grant (Girringun Biodiversity Nursery Project)

  • 2018-2019

    CRC for Developing Northern Australia (Building the Traditional Owner-led Bush Products industry across northern Australia)

  • 2009-2009

    Travel Grant, The University of Auckland

  • 2008-2009

    New Staff Research Grant, The University of Queensland

  • 2008-2009

    Q150 Grant, Queensland Government

  • 2008-2008

    Travel and Conference Grant, Institute of Australian Geographers

  • 2004-2006

    Post-Graduate Award (Ph.D), Australian National University

  • 2004-2006

    Ph.D stipend and Research budget, Desert Knowledge CRC

Community and Corporate Citizenship

  • 2022-pres

    Working Group member, CSIRO Indigenous Knowledge and Science Cross Cutting Capability Community of Practice

  • 2022-pres

    Editor, Sustainability Science Journal (Springer Nature)

  • 2021-pres

    Honorary Senior Lecturer, ANU Fenner School of Environment and Society

  • 2021-pres

    Assessor, CSIRO R+ CERC Postdoctoral Fellowship Program

  • 2020-pres

    CSIRO Equity and Diversity contact officer, Dutton Park.

  • 2020-2020

    Managing our Boundaries L&W Working Group

  • 2018-2018

    Judge, 2018 Asia Pacific 3MT (3 minute thesis) competition, Springer Nature and The University of Queensland

  • 2010-pres

    Member, Indigenous Peoples' Knowledges and Rights Study Group, Institute of Australian Geographers