Dr Stephen van Leeuwen, Assistant Director, Science Science and Conservation Division, Department of Biodiversity, Conservation and Attractions (Western Australia)
See Stephen’s full research profile here.
What are your research interests as they relate to northern Australia?
My research interests relate to biological surveys and managing threatened species in northern Australia. This encompasses not only trying to finding out what species are here, where they are and why they occurs where they do, but also knowing how to manage threatened species and the processes that impact upon them to ensure they remain part of the northern Australian landscape for many years to come. To achieve such outcomes and realise these interests, I enjoy working with Traditional Owners – this is not optional when working in northern Australia, it is essential.
What do you love about working in northern Australia?
I love the remoteness and untapped nature of northern Australia, the thrill of finding new things around every corner and the challenge of working out how the plants and animals interact to persist in such a challenging and dynamic environment. I also enjoy working with Traditional Owners to learn from them how country works, how they are connected to country and the sense of place and well-being you get from being on country. My favourite place in northern Australia is the Western Desert (Great Sandy, Little Sandy, Tanami). It is such a remote and relatively undisturbed place with vast landscapes and endless skies. What makes it even more exciting is that it’s the land of discovery – in terms of both species discovery and knowledge discovery, especially when working on country with the Traditional Owners.