Professor Damien Burrows, Director TropWater
See Damien’s full research profile here.
What are your research interests as they relate to northern Australia?
It used to be that my research interests were in aquatic ecology but now I’m really enjoying being at the stage of my career where I’m a research enabler. I like to build capacity in other researchers – more so than in myself – and I like to build up that capacity in people who have a love of northern Australia like I do. I’m particularly keen for my research team to fall in love with the north like I have, and to commit their careers to northern Australia.
What do you love about working in northern Australia?
I love doing research because I love discovering things that other people don’t know. That feeling of discovery is very exciting. And I love northern Australia because I love the variability, the unpredictability, the slightly harsh edge. I find it hard to think about myself working down south, because everything’s too tame. There’s a certain wildness in the north, and you feel free. That feeling of freedom very much goes with the feeling of discovery. Discovery is the freedom of your mind and working in the north is the freedom of your body. My favourite place in northern Australia is Queensland’s Burdekin River. It’s my home river. I started working with graziers in the Burdekin as a young researcher, before I knew where I wanted my career to go. I got to see all kinds of amazing places on private property that very few people get to see. I saw the landowners’ love for the river and I fell in love with the river too. I’m still grateful for how those graziers helped kick off my career. I have very fond memories of the faith they put in me as a very young researcher – it was a bit daunting going out and meeting them on my own but we developed a really good rapport. I miss those days of being young, sleeping in a swag by the riverbank and doing fieldwork. They were good days. I also like the Burdekin because it can be so shallow at the end of the dry season, then it rains and it’s 30m deep and 600m wide. Then a week later it’s back to normal levels. You just never know what you’re going to get. It’s really wildly variable and I love that variability.