Sharon R

Senior Professor Sharon Robinson

PhD, University College London, 1990
Graduate Certificate in Science Education, Kings College London 1986
B.Sc. First Class Honours, University College London 1983

Phone:    +61 2 4221 5753
Office:      B15.G14

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View My PublicationsUOW Research Online 

Drones used for surveying Antarctic moss - ABC Science Show


Drones Used to Assess the Health of Fragile Antarctic Vegetation 


Research Interests

My group is investigating how plants respond to Climate Change induced environmental stress in Antarctica (see Cool Plants below) and Australia (Plant Stress Ecophysiology). We are also interested in the mechanisms that allow thermoregulatory plants to maintain their flowers at temperatures well above ambient air temperatures (Hot Plants). Plant responses can be monitored at a range of levels from the molecular to the ecological and my research employs a systems biology approach to answer these questions.
For potential research topics and information, see following pages:

cool plants 2

Cool plants
How are Antarctic plant communities affected by climate change?
Using Antarctic plants as indicators and facilitators for remediation of contaminants.
Antarctic plants in a time of change TEDxUWollongong
YouTube - The Science of Cool


hot plants 2

Hot plants
How do plants keep floral ovens hot?
Native Australian hot plants and their pollinators
YouTube - In the Heat of the Night


stressed plants 2

Plant Stress Ecophysiology
Using chlorophyll fluorescence to investigate plant stress
Linking active and passive (solar induced fluorescence) chlorophyll fluorescence signals.
Plants and extreme events


recent publicity
Representative Publications

Pecl GT, Araújo MB, Bell JD, Blanchard J, Bonebrake TC, Chen I-C, Clark TD, Colwell RK, Danielsen F, Evengård B, Falconi L, Ferrier S, Frusher S, Garcia RA, Griffis RB, Hobday AJ, Janion-Scheepers C, Jarzyna MA, Jennings S, Lenoir J, Linnetved HI, Martin VY, McCormack PC, McDonald J, Mitchell NJ, Mustonen T, Pandolfi JM, Pettorelli N, Popova E, Robinson SA, Scheffers BR, Shaw JD, Sorte CJB, Strugnell JM, Sunday JM, Tuanmu M-N, Vergés A, Villanueva C, Wernberg T, Wapstra E, Williams SE. (2017) Biodiversity redistribution under climate change: impacts on ecosystems and human well-being. Science 365 6332
View the video abstract.

Ashcroft, M.B., King, DK, Raymond, B., Turnbull, J.D., Wasley, J. & Robinson, S.A (2017) Moving beyond presence and absence when examining species range shifts. Global Change Biology early online doi: 10.1111/gcb.13628

Robinson, SA & Erickson DJ (2015) Not just about sunburn – profound, indirect effects of the ozone hole on Southern hemisphere climate and ecosystems. Global Change Biology 21: 515-27 plus front cover see article in The Conversation 

Malenovský, Z, Turnbull, JD, Lucieer, A & Robinson, SA (2015) Hyperspectral mapping of Antarctic moss chlorophyll, water content and leaf density as environmental stress indicators. New Phytologist 208 608-624

Nydahl, A, Wasley J, King, CK, Jolley, DF & Robinson, SA (2015) Toxicity of fuel contaminated soil to Antarctic moss and terrestrial algae. Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry 34: 2004–2o12, DOI: 10.1002/etc.3021

Bornman, JF, Barnes, PW, Robinson, SA, Ballaré, CL, Flint, SD & Caldwell, MM (2015) Solar ultraviolet radiation and ozone depletion-driven climate change: effects on terrestrial ecosystems. Photochemical & Photobiological Sciences 14: 88-107 

Bramley-Alves, J, Wanek, W, French, K & Robinson, SA (2015) Moss δ13C is an accurate proxy for past water environments in polar regions. Global Change Biology 21: 2454–2464

Williamson, C.E., Zepp, R.G., Lucas, R.M., Madronich, S., Austin, A.T., Ballaré, C.L., Norval, M., Sulzberger, B., Bais, A.F., McKenzie, R.L., Robinson, S.A., Häder, D-P., Paul, N.D., Bornman, J.F. (2014) Solar Ultraviolet Radiation in a Changing Climate. Nature Climate Change 4: (DOI: 10.1038/NCLIMATE2225)  

Lucieer, A, Turner, D, King, DK & Robinson, SA (2014) Using Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) to capture micro-topography of Antarctic moss beds. International Journal of Applied Earth Observation and GeoInformation (

Nichol, CJ., Pieruschka, P., Takayama, K. Förster, B., Kolber, Z., Rascher, U., Grace, J., Robinson, SA., Pogson, B., & Osmond, CB (2012). Canopy conundrums: exploring the envelope of reversible down-regulation of photosynthesis in the outer and inner canopy to scale observations from the leaf to the landscape. Functional Plant Biology 39 1–24

Miller RE, Grant NM, Watling JR, Giles L, Ribas-Carbo M, Berry J & Robinson SA (2011) In the heat of the night – alternative pathway respiration drives thermogenesis in Philodendron bipinnatifidum. New Phytologist 189 1013–1026

Clarke, LJ, Robinson, SA, Hua, Q, Ayre, DJ & Fink, D (2012), Radiocarbon bomb spike reveals biological effects of Antarctic climate change. Global Change Biology 18: 301–310

Current Postdocs

Dr Mick Ashcroft
Dr Melinda Waterman

Current PHD Students
  • Diana King - Climate Change Impacts on Antarctic Terrestrial Communities
  • Rhys Wyber - Measuring Canopy Photosynthesis
  • Axton. C. Aguiar - Urban Forestry (with Professor Kris French)
  • Alison Haynes - Biocrusts for Green Roofs (with Professor Kris French) 
  • Krystal Randall Measuring Antarctic microclimates

  • Dr Melinda Waterman The what and where of ultraviolet protective mechanisms in Antarctic mosses. (PhD, 2015) Endeavour Fellowship University of Santiago de Chile
  • Dr Johanna Turnbull Antarctic Moss: Surviving Ultraviolet Radiation In A Changing Climate. (PhD, 2015)
  • Dr Jessica Bramley-Alves Stable Isotopes Reveal Past Polar Environments (PhD, 2015) Centre, Urban Greenery & Ecology, National Parks Board Singapore 
  • Dr Nicole Grant Development and regulation of thermogenesis in thermoregulating flowers (PhD, 2010) NSW Police
  • Dr Laurence Clarke Resilience of the Antarctic moss Ceratodon purpureus to the effects of elevated UV-B radiation and climate change. (PhD 2008) Australian Antarctic Division
  • Dr Sue Fyfe Remote Sensing of Australian Seagrasses (PhD, 2004) Director - Geoinformatics and Data Services, Geoscience Australia 
  • Dr Jane Wasley The Effect of Climate Change on Antarctic Terrestrial Flora. (PhD, 2004) Australian Antarctic Division

Suggested Topics for Future Students

Antarctic plants and global change

  1. How is climate change influencing vegetation dynamics in Antarctica?
  2. How does UV-B effect Antarctic mosses?
 What UV screening compounds do they produce?

  3. Using unmanned aerial vehicles and hyperspectral measurements to map and monitor vegetation health and change in Antarctica (with University of Tasmania)
  4. How sensitive are plants to contamination in Antarctica? Can they be used in phytoremediation?

Hot plants

  • What controls flower heating in thermoregulating plants?
  • Native hot plants and their pollinators

Plant Stress Ecophysiology

  • AirLIFT- Developing an active chlorophyll fluorescence sensing system (LIFT) for assessment of photosynthetic activity in plant canopies
  • How do plants cope with heat waves

Abbreviated CV

Professional Activities

  • Australian Research Council College of Experts 2013 -
  • United Nations Environment Programme Environmental Effects Assessment Panel Member 2010 -
  • Editor Global Change Biology 2005 –
  • Antarctic Science Advisory Committee Member 2009 - 2014

Academic Appointments

  • Associate Dean Graduate Research & Senior Professor, The University of Wollongong 2016
  • Co-Director, Centre for Sustainable Ecosystem Solutions 2015 -
  • Professor, The University of Wollongong 2010
  • Director, Institute for Conservation Biology 2005 - 2008
  • Associate Professor, The University of Wollongong 2004  - 2010
  • Senior Lecturer, The University of Wollongong 2000 - 2004
  • Lecturer, The University of Wollongong 1996 - 1999

Academic Degrees

  • PhD, University College London, 1990
  • Graduate Certificate in Science Education, Kings College London 1986
  • B.Sc. First Class Honours, University College London 1983


Last reviewed: 14 December, 2017