Dr Joe Greet, Postdoctoral fellow

joegreet crop

Joe is a riparian plant ecologist working on a project with Chris Walsh and me that aims to restore Eucalyptus camphora swamp forest at Yellingbo. Funded through an ARC Linkage with partners Parks Victoria, Greening Australia, Melbourne Water and Zoos Victoria, we aim to quantify the interactive effects of flood regime restoration, native vegetation plantings, and removal of understorey vegetation in restoring degraded wetland forests. Email: greet[at]

Dr Nicki Munro, Postdoctoral fellownicki munro

Nicki is working with Cindy Hauser, Brendan Wintle and me on a project that aims to develop and test a process-based model of invasion. Nicki brings a wealth of experience to the project, which will be invaluable as we build, test and apply our model. Email: nicola.munro[at]


Dr Annabel Smith, Postdoctoral fellow

annabel smithAnnabel is working with me and folk from Minnesota on a project examining trait-based interactions between invading plants and resident species in a Minnesotan prairie. Using a bunch of traits for over 200 species, we’re examining how the (relative) functional characteristics of 50 seeded species affect their invasion success and impact over a 20 year period. Email: annabel[at]


Dr Elizabeth Wandrag, Postdoctoral fellow
lizzie wandrag

Lizzie is working with Richard Duncan and me on our ARC Discovery Project that aims to predict the causes and consequences of plant invasions. Email: elizabeth.wandrag[at]

Current students

Estíbaliz Palma, PhD studentEsti 1_photo

Esti is exploring the relationship between species invasiveness and ecosystem invasibility. [Primary supervisor: Catford; Co-supervisor: A/Prof. Peter Vesk]. Email: epalma[at]

Saras Windecker, PhD studentphoto

Saras is studying plant community assembly and its influence on wetland ecosystem function. [Primary supervisor: Catford; Co-supervisor: A/Prof. Peter Vesk]. Email: windeckers[at]

David Johnson, PhD student

DJ Fieldwork (7) - Copy
David is using field surveys and experiments to increase understanding of ways to restore forbs in modified woodlands. [Primary supervisor: Dr Phil Gibbons; Co-supervisors: Prof. Don Driscoll and me]. Email: david.johnson[at]

Decky Junaedi, PhD student

photo-2014_edDecky’s project examines the influence of traits on the abundance of invasive plant species in mountainous tropical rainforest ecosystems. He is interested in using knowledge of plant traits to inform invasive plant risk assessments of exotic flora for use in Botanic Gardens. [Primary supervisor: Prof. Mark Burgman; Co-supervisors: Prof. Mick McCarthy and Catford]. Email: d.junaedi[at]

Shana Nerenberg, PhD StudentShana Nerenberg

Shana is working in the south west slopes long term restoration study. Her project investigates plant diversity of farmland revegetation sites with the aim of identifying effects of landscape context on restoration of plant diversity. [Primary supervisor: Dr Phil Gibbons; Co-supervisors: Dr Sue McIntyre, Prof. David Lindenmayer and Catford]. Email: shana.nerenberg[at]

Andrew O’Reilly-Nugent, PhD student

Andrew is using modern coexistence theory to understand biological invasions using a series of greenhouse and field experiments. [Primary supervisor: Prof. Richard Duncan; Co-supervisors: Prof. Don Driscoll, Dr Elizabeth Wandrag and Catford]. Email: Andrew.Oreillynugent[at]

Urvashi Sanwal, PhD student photo copy

Urvashi is undertaking a biogeographic comparison ofAcacia mearnsii in its native and introduced range (Australia and India) focusing on above- and below-ground ecosystem processes. She is enrolled at the University of Delhi. [Primary supervisor: Prof. Inderjit; Co-supervisor: Catford]. Email: sanwalurvashi[at]

Potential students 

I welcome interested undergraduate and postgraduate students to contact me about potential projects. I will be starting a new position at the University of Southampton in July 2016, and would encourage interested students to look at options for joining my lab there (as a start, see links here).

If you’d like me to be your primary supervisor, Southampton will be the place to be. However, I’ll retain official affiliations at the University of Melbourne and ANU, so would be open to co-supervising students at those institutions, as well as other universities. Although I do move around a bit, I am in regular contact with students and colleagues via email and Skype so lack of in-person time should not be a problem.

I have a number of ideas regarding student projects, but welcome – and encourage – other ideas. Please get in touch if you’d like to chat (catfordj[at]

Former students

Dr Samantha Dawson, PhD (2012-2016), University of New South Wales profile_pic_SD[1] - Copy

Sam’s PhD project focused on the impacts of flooding and agriculture on vegetation in the Macquarie Marshes, NSW. [Primary supervisor: Prof. Richard Kingsford; Co-supervisors: Prof. David Keith, Dr Peter Berney and me]. Email: samantha.k.dawson[at]


Maggie Gardner, summer student

Maggie is studying Environmental Biology at Washington University in St. Louis, USA and spent six months in Australia at the School of International Training in 2013. As part of her “Australian adventure”, she spent five weeks working with me on a research project that focused on biological invasions at global- and local- scales. The former involved big, exciting data; the latter involved long, exciting days in the field.

Estíbaliz Palma, visiting PhD student

A PhD student at the University of Barcelona, Esti came to Melbourne for 6 months at the end of 2011 where she worked with Peter Vesk, Matt White (DSE ARI) and me. Interested in the link between species invasiveness and ecosystem invasibility, Esti used boosted regression trees and hierarchical modelling to examine how species traits modulate their responses to the environment. She presented the outcome of this work at the Neobiota 2012 conference in Spain.

Mike Sammonds, summer student

Supported by the National Climate Change Adaptation Research Facility – Water Resources and Freshwater Biodiversity, Mike used boosted regression trees to examine the relative importance of climatic conditions (vs other environmental factors) for the distribution of riparian plant species in south-eastern Australia. Based on these relationships and climate change projections, he then predicted which species were likely to have larger or smaller geographic range sizes in the future.  Mike is now working as a research assistant in the Department of Resource Management and Geography at the University of Melbourne.


I have coordinated “Graduate Seminar – Environmental Science” (Masters of Science, 2011; + guest lecturer thereafter) and have given guest lectures in “Environment Impact Assessment” (Masters of Environmental Science) at the University of Melbourne and “Biodiversity Conservation” (3rd year subject) at ANU. I have also assisted with undergrad and postgrad teaching as a tutor and demonstrator.

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