Keynote speakers

Dr Azzam Alwash

Dr. Azzam Alwash was born in Kut, Iraq in 1958 and left to the United States in 1978 where he completed his graduate work with a Ph.D. in Civil Engineering from the University of Southern California in 1988. He practiced in the environmental and geotechnical field for over 20 years.

He started Eden Again, a program to put the spotlight on the drying of the marshes of southern Iraq, under the auspices of the Free Iraq Foundation, where he is a member of the board of directors. After the removal of Saddam Hussien, he moved back to Iraq to work on the restoration of the marshes and founded Nature Iraq, an Iraqi NGO focusing on the preservation of the environment of Iraq and its cultural heritage. An effort that earned him the Takreem Award in 2011 and The Goldman Environmental Prize for the 2013 as well as being designated one of the 100 forward thinking leaders of the world by the Foreign Policy Group in 2013.

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Gillian Davies

Gillian Davies is a Senior Ecological Scientist at BSC Group, Inc., where her work focuses on the intersection of climate change and wetlands. She also holds the title of Visiting Scholar at the Tufts University Global Development and Environment Institute and served as the 2016-2017 President of the international Society of Wetland Scientists. Prior to serving on the SWS Executive Board, Gillian chaired the scientific program committee for the 2015 SWS Annual Meeting themed Changing Climate. Changing Wetlands. As an outcome of the meeting, she collaborates with other wetland scientists and a climate scientist, developing an informal SWS Climate Initiative to communicate the significance of wetlands as our climate changes through papers, articles, symposia and webinars. Gillian and other members of the Initiative are developing a Declaration on the Rights of Wetlands as a wetland-specific response to the emerging Rights of Nature movement and the World Scientists’ Second Warning to Humanity: A Second Notice(Ripple et al 2017).

INTECOL Gillian Davies Photo

Nancy Grimm

NANCY B. GRIMM is an ecosystem ecologist and interdisciplinary sustainability scientist who studies interactions of climate change, human activities, resilience, and biogeochemical processes in urban and stream ecosystems. From 1997-2016 Grimm directed the Central Arizona–Phoenix LTER (CAP LTER), a pioneering interdisciplinary study of a complex metropolitan region whose conceptual models of social-ecological-technological systems expanded ecology. She now co-directs the Urban Resilience to Extremes Sustainability Research Network (URExSRN), working with cities to co-produce visions of resilient and sustainable futures, and the new NATURA network of international networks that focuses on nature-based solutions to urban resilience challenges in the Anthropocene. Grimm is a Member of the US National Academy of Sciences, Past President of the Ecological Society of America (ESA) and the Society for Freshwater Science (SFS), and a Fellow of American Association for the Advancement of Science, ESA, SFS, and the American Geophysical Union.

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David Irwin

David is the creative and a founding director of Isthmus Group, a New Zealand based inter-disciplinary design studio. The isthmus design philosophy is inspired by Land People Culture.

David’s design work crosses the boundaries of art and design, landscape architecture, architecture and urban design. His design work spans some 30 years and has seen him lead project teams that have won national awards in; landscape architecture, architecture and urban design, resource management, planning and engineering. A number of projects have won international acclaim including New Plymouth Foreshore and Oriental bay and in 2016 major international design awards for a Taumanu bridge in the world architecture news, and Landscape of the year for Kopupaka reserve at the World Architecture Festival WAF.

INTECOL David Irwin

Dr Maria Tengö

Maria Tengö is a researcher in Sustainability Science, with extensive experience of inter- and transdisciplinary research applying a social-ecological systems and resilience perspective. She is based at the Stockholm Resilience Centre (SRC), Stockholm University, and leads the research stream on Biosphere Stewardship. Her work has focused on the role of indigenous and local knowledge, management practices and governance in complex social-ecological systems – based on empirical research in local communities in Tanzania, Madagascar, South Africa, India, and Sweden. Since 2011, Maria has been collaborating closely with SwedBio, a science-policy-practice interface based at the SRC, in an on-going dialogue process bringing together representatives from indigenous, local and scientific knowledge to develop theory, tools and approaches for weaving knowledge systems for sustainability. In particular the target has been the Intergovernmental Panel on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES), and the challenges of synthesizing knowledge across knowledge systems in ways that are equal, transparent, and useful for all actors involved.

INTECOL Maria Tengo photo WEB

Plenary speakers

Kevin Collier

KEVIN COLLIER completed a PhD at Canterbury University under the supervision of Mike Winterbourn, and subsequently has worked as an aquatic ecologist for the Department of Conservation (5 years), National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research (11 years), Waikato Regional Council (10 years) and most recently The University of Waikato (7 years). His research interests have spanned decomposition processes of leaves and wood in streams, factors affecting habitat and food supplies of blue duck, the effects of acidity and land use on stream invertebrates, indicators and monitoring methods to assess aquatic ecosystem health, food webs in rivers and lakes, and most recently the structure and function of large rivers. Kevin was on the editorial boards of the journals Freshwater Reviews, Aquatic Conservation: Marine and Freshwater Ecosystems, and Freshwater Science, and has served as Secretary-Treasurer (1996-1998) and President (2006-2010) of NZFSS.

INTECOL Kevin Collier

Phil Duncan

Phil Duncan is from Moree New South Wales and is a member of the Gomeroi Nation and a Member Gomeroi Nation Native Title Claimant Group. His homelands are Moree and Terry Hie Hie. Phil almost 40 years’ experience working with Aboriginal people and government to improve the lives of Aboriginal people through recognition of our rich cultural history, the return of our lands, the improvement of our living conditions and education of our next generation through both his employment and active volunteer community work. Phil provides high level policy and strategic advice and leadership to key Indigenous Representative Organisations, Universities, State and Federal government agencies as well as key external stakeholder groups.

INTECOL Duncan Phil

Aleicia Holland

Dr Aleicia Holland is a Senior Lecturer at La Trobe University and a member of the Centre for Freshwater Ecosystems. She also holds a visiting scientist position within CSIRO Land and Water. Dr Holland completed her PhD in 2014 at CQUniversity, Rockhampton, QLD, before conducting a postdoctoral fellowship at the National Institute of Amazonian Research (INPA) in collaboration with University of British Columbia. In 2016 she was awarded an Australian Research Council Discovery Early Career Researcher Award, which she begun at the University of Wollongong and then moved to La Trobe University in 2017.


Ross Thompson

Professor Ross Thompson is foundation Director of the Centre for Applied Water Science and co-Director of the Institute for Applied Ecology at the University of Canberra. Ross is a freshwater ecologist with interests in the study of biodiversity and the restoration of landscapes. His fundamental research is in food web ecology; seeking the rules that determine how natural communities assemble and persist. His applied research addresses the ways in which food webs can be influenced by anthropogenic factors. Increasingly this has led him to research which reaches across social science, environmental law, economics and indigenous reconciliation.

Ross co-leads the Basin-wide program monitoring the effectiveness of environmental flows in the Murray Darling Basin in Australia, and works closely with rural landholders, indigenous groups and local communities in his work.

INTECOL Ross Thompson Director IAE WEB