Regional Reports July 2022

Category: Our People

  05 Jul 2022

New South Wales

Susan Wilson NSW Regional Representative

CSIRO Land and Water, Lucas Heights, Aquatic Contaminants Group (Lisa Golding

April/May 2022 was when dreams came true for the ecotox crew from Lucas Heights with completion of experimental work at the SeaSim facility at AIMS in Townsville. Lisa Golding led an expert team (Merrin Adams, Monique Binet, Gwilym Price, Mandy Reichelt-Brushett and Jenny Stauber) in collaboration with Craig Humphrey, Matt Salmon and Justin Hochen at SeaSim to determine the acute and chronic toxicity of manganese to adult coral (Acropora millepora). These vital data will contribute to deriving a marine manganese guideline value and will be presented at the SETAC-AP virtual conference in September 2022. The experiment was originally planned for 2020 but COVID-related issues caused delays then contributed to the challenges of coral bleaching events and flooding that were faced in 2022 but the team was able to handle the challenges and complete the experimental work successfully and have our dreams come true!

Lisa Golding has been co-supervising a post-doc, Gaurangi Anand, in the AI/ML future science platform on using machine learning methods to predict chemical toxicity to aquatic biota when there are sparse toxicity data sets and was part of a Q&A panel at the MARS 2022 conference in May. Lisa has recently had a publication accepted in the special tribute edition of Environmental Chemistry dedicated to the past and ongoing scientific achievements of Graeme Batley

The Lucas Heights team were also very proud of Graeme Batley when he received his Member of the Order of Australia (MA) medal in May at a special ceremony with family at the Governor of NSW residence. Graeme is a valued and respected member of the team and this award is one way to acknowledge all that he continues to contribute to environmental toxicology and chemistry. Please see the special feature for more highlights of Graeme’s career so far!

Recent publications:

Golding, L.A., Kumar, A., Adams, M.S., Binet, M.T., Gregg, A., King, J., McKnight, K.S., Nidumolu, B., Spadaro, D.A., Kirby, J.K., 2022. The influence of salinity on the chronic toxicity of shale gas flowback wastewater to freshwater organisms. Journal of Hazardous Materials 428, 128219.

Golding, L.A., Valdivia, M.V., van Dam, J.W., Batley, G.E., Apte, S.C., 2022 (accepted). Toxicity of arsenic (V) to temperate and tropical marine biota and the derivation of a chronic marine water quality guideline. Environmental Chemistry.

School of Environmental and Rural Science, University of New England, Susan Wilson ( and Matt Tighe (

A snapshot update focussing on student news:

Last year Sajanee Gunadasa was awarded her PhD on “Arsenic and cadmium co-contamination in agronomic soils: Risks and options for management” and she received the Chancellors medal. Pleasingly this year, with UNE Graduations restarting, she was able to receive the medal in person. Steven Doherty has submitted his PhD “Speciation, associations, and geochemical transformations of antimony and arsenic in a mine-contaminated freshwater system” and moves to a postdoc with Southern Cross University. He’s published 3 papers from the work so far with more to come. Carolyn Sonter, currently completing her PhD on PFAS effects on honey bee colonies is also an experienced bee keeper. She presented at this year’s 4th Australian Bee Congress, and creamed honey from her productive hives was awarded 3rd place. She has also recently been interviewed by ABC New England North West about the impacts of the recent varroa mite outbreak in NSW on bee colonies. 

Recent publications:

Doherty, S., Rueegsegger, I., Tighe, M.K., Milan, L.A. & Wilson S.C. (2022) Antimony and arsenic particle size distribution in a mining contaminated freshwater river: Implications for sediment quality assessment and quantifying dispersion. Environmental Pollution, 305, 119204,

Esmaeili, A., Knox, O., Juhasz, A & Wilson, SC. (2022) Differential accumulation of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) in three earthworm ecotypes: Implications for exposure assessment on historically contaminated soils. Environmental Advances, 7, 100175.

Check out our webpage at, and follow us on Twitter at @UNEPollutionSci. We have new PhD opportunities, including scholarships.

Carolyn Sonter’s presentation for the 4th Australian Bee Congress

Sajanee Gunadasa receives the Chancellors Medal at the 2022 UNE  Graduation

ANSTO Environmental Toxicology and Radioecology Team, Francesca Gissi (

In December 2021, Tom Cresswell and Francesca Gissi chaired the Mercury Australia Symposium. The symposium was a great success and was attended by researchers, regulators and industry representatives. Keynote speakers included Sarah Douglass (DAWE) who discussed Australia’s ratification of the Minamata Convention and Dr Jeroen Sonke (Geosciences Environment Toulouse – Université de Toulouse) and Dr Chuxian Li (Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences) who presented their research on differences in biogeochemical mercury cycling and anthropogenic mercury enrichment between Northern and Southern hemispheres. Talks in the symposium covered topics from artisanal small scale gold mining, mercury in offshore infrastructure decommissioning and mercury in the atmosphere. The best student presentation was awarded to Jalene Nalbant (Australian National University), sponsored by AINSE. The best postgraduate presentation award went to Darren Koppel (Curtin University/AIMS), sponsored by Metrohm Australia.

The ANSTO Offshore Infrastructure Decommissioning team presented a virtual poster at the SETAC Europe conference to raise awareness and interest of contaminants in subsea oil and gas infrastructure and the current knowledge gaps needing to be filled to improve ecological risk assessments.  If you want to know more about our offshore decommissioning research, check out our ‘explainer video’ below:

Click here to view video or scan the QR code above

Francesca Gissi and Alexandra Boyd have enjoyed getting back into the lab this year and have been busy running experiments to develop and valid a method in our labs using toluene to extract methylmercury from environmental samples (water, sediment, biota). The method is utilising the radioactive mercury-203 made in ANSTO’s OPAL reactor.

Francesca has also been co-supervising a Masters student Kate Mutch from Western Sydney University, with Val Spikmans (WSU), Eleonora Egidi (WSU) and Chris Doyle (DPE). Kate’s project is investigating the presence of microbial life inhabiting the highly acidic and metal-laden sediment dams at the abandoned Captains Flat/Lake George mine site in NSW. Kate and Francesca collected samples from the site in April and Kate has been busy in the lab extracting and amplifying DNA from the water and sediment samples. The long-term goal of the project is to identify microbes which could potentially be used to remediate the site which has been abandoned since the 1970s but continues to impact the surrounding environment through the release of metals into the adjacent river.