Stephen van Leeuwen
Curtin University

Stephen van Leeuwen photo

Dr Stephen van Leeuwen, Indigenous Facilitator

BHP Curtin Indigenous Chair of Biodiversity and Environmental Science

See Stephen’s full research profile here.

E: [email protected]

Research outputs linked to policy change and decision-making 

  • Through IAC, Dr van Leeuwen has influenced Indigenous engagement and inclusion across major programs within DAWE including the 2021 SoE report, RAP, Reef Trust, 2019 IPA Competitive Grants Round and design of NESP 2. He also co-authored the IAC’s submission to the EPBC review and independent submissions tendered by Indigenous Working Groups for the TSR Hub and Ecological Society of Australia (ESA).
  • Dr van Leeuwen was a key biodiversity and Indigenous influencer in the design and initial implementation of the Pilbara Environmental Offset Fund, WA Environmental Protection Authority’s Section 16(e) advice on the Fortescue Marsh and the Great Victoria Desert Biodiversity Trust’s threatened species implementation and bioregional management plans. He also Chaired WABSI’s Biological Survey Strategy Working Group.
  • Strong links and established networks with Indigenous Ranger groups (e.g. Birriliburu Rangers), Prescribed Body Corporates (e.g. Tarlka Matuwa Piarku), Native Title Representative Bodies (e.g. SWALSC), Indigenous-led organisations (e.g. NAILSMA), Indigenous-led land management practitioners (e.g. Firestick Alliance), Indigenous focused land management organisations (e.g. 10 Desert Project) and Not-for-Profit organisation that support management of the Indigenous Estate (e.g. BHA, Rangelands NRM)
  • NESP Northern Hub projects: Monitoring, mapping and safeguarding Kimberley bilbies.

Highest Qualification

  • 1997: PhD, Curtin University of Technology (Biology)


  • BHP Curtin Indigenous Chair of Biodiversity and Environmental Science (2020 – present)
  • Assistant Director, Biodiversity and Conservation Science, Department of Biodiversity, Conservation and Attractions (2015-2020)
  • Science Partnerships Manager, Science and Conservation, Department of Parks and Wildlife (2014-2015).
  • Science Program Leader – Biogeography, Department of Parks and Wildlife (2007-2014)

Indigenous Representation

  • Initial Director, Karri Karrak Prescribed Body Corporate (2021 – present)
  • Steering Committee, First Nations Science Centre (2021 – present).
  • Independent Reference Group – Indigenous Rangers Program: National Indigenous Australians Agency (2020 – present).
  • South West Australian Marine Parks Advisory Committee: Parks Australia (2019 – present).
  • Indigenous Reference Group: Threatened Species Recovery Hub, National Environmental Science Program (2018 – present).
  • Indigenous Advisory Committee (IAC) – Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment (2017 – present).
  • Indigenous Working Group: Ecological Society of Australia (2017 – present)

Scientific Representation

  • Advisory Board, Atlas of Living Australia (2021 – present)
  • Threatened Species Scientific Committee (2020 – present)
  • Wildlife and Threatened Species Bushfire Recovery Expert Panel: Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment (2020 – present).
  • Western Australian Biodiversity Survey Working Group, Western Australian Biodiversity Science Institute (Chair) (2019 – 2020).
  • Research Executive Committee, Northern Australia Environmental Resources Hub: National Environmental Science Program (2015 – 2021).
  • Ecosystem Surveillance Monitoring Advisory Committee: Terrestrial Ecosystem Research Network (2014 – present)
  • Great Victoria Desert Biodiversity Trust Management Panel (2013- – 2020).
  • Western Australian Threatened Ecological Communities Scientific Committee: Department of Biodiversity, Conservation and Attractions (2009 – present)


Professor Stephen van Leeuwen is Australia’s first Indigenous Chair of Biodiversity and Environmental Science, based at Curtin University in Perth, Western Australia. He obtained all his academic credentials from Curtin University completing his PhD in 1997 on the ‘Reproductive biology and mating system of Banksia tricuspis’ a rare species endemic to the Mt Lesueur National Park.

Prof van Leeuwen is a respected South West Boojarah Wardandi Noongar leader with a profound respect for Country who engages and builds collaborative relationships with Traditional Owners and other land managers to co-deliver novel and enduring outcomes for biodiversity conservation, bio-cultural land management, and the stewardship of Country.

Prof van Leeuwen is a botanical ecologist, research scientist and senior manager with a diverse research pedigree extending from threatened flora survey, fire ecology and threatened flora and fauna management through to biological survey, arid zone ecology, plant taxonomy and pollination biology. He has worked for over 39 years across Western Australia, principally in the rangelands (Pilbara and Western Desert) and the Kwongan sandplains of the biodiversity hotspot that is south-west Western Australia.

As a former senior manager within the Western Australian government, Prof van Leeuwen provided leadership and oversight to a highly motivated, capable and dedicated team of professional, technical, and administrative staff committed to the delivery of evidenced-based science to inform nature conservation and sustainable nature resource management. Prof van Leeuwen strives to build and deliver research collaborations where the outputs are focused on solutions, which were co-designed and co-delivered in concert with conservation practitioners.


My Projects

Current projectCompleted project
NESP, 2015-2021NERP, 2012-2015TRaCK, 2005-present