Professor Tim Smith

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Professor Tim Smith


Research areas

  • sustainability
  • coastal management
  • climate change adaptation
  • water governance
  • geography


Professor Tim Smith is the inaugural Director of the Sustainability Research Centre (SRC) at the University of the Sunshine Coast, which is one of three flagship research concentrations of the university, comprised of over 60 researchers.

Prior to his appointment with USC in 2007, Professor Smith was a senior research scientist with the CSIRO. Prof Smith has also led the social science research and education portfolios of two national research centres, the Coastal Cooperative Research Centre and the Catchment Hydrology Cooperative Research Centre.

Apart from academic appointments, Prof Smith has also worked in local and state government, and in private industry.

Prof Smith has led numerous research projects relating to sustainability (lead or co-Chief Investigator on over A$14m of competitive research grants) and has authored over 150 publications in this area. He has undertaken numerous projects for national and international organisations such as the Australian Research Council, CSIRO, Land and Water Australia, five Cooperative Research Centres, AusAID, Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit, Riksbankens Jubileumsfond, Volkswagen Foundation, Compagnia di San Paolo, and UNDP.

Apart from assessing Australian research proposals and programs, he has been invited to assess applications to the Canadian Chairs program, US Sea Grants, and the G8 environmental research councils and Belmont Fund.

Prof Smith has given keynote addresses or invited seminars in Australia, Norway, Italy, China, Thailand, Cambodia, New Zealand, Vietnam, Fiji and the United States on his sustainability research.

Prof Smith currently leads the Institutions Work Package of the Global Challenges Project: Climate Change and Water Governance, and the Socio-Economic Vulnerability Theme of the Climate Change Adaptation for Natural Resource Management in East Coast Australia project.

Along with his research partners, he was awarded the 2009 Australian Museum Eureka Prize for Innovative Solutions to Climate Change. He was also awarded the NSW Coastal Innovation Award in 2009 and the Vice Chancellor's Medal for Excellence in Research and Research Training in 2010.

Prof Smith currently serves on a number of committees such as the Executive Scientific Committee of the Healthy Waterways partnership. He is a Director of the Noosa Biosphere Reserve Board. He convenes the Social, Economic and Institutional Dimensions Research Network of the National Climate Change Adaptation Research Facility (NCCARF). He is on the Editorial Board of the journal Geographical Research. He has held adjunct positions at Griffith University, the University of Queensland, and the New Zealand Climate Change Research Institute at the Victoria University of Wellington. He is currently an Adjunct Professor with Brock University, Canada.

Examples of current research

  • Climate Change and Water Governance (CADWAGO) (Global Challenges Programme:  Riksbankens Jubileumsfond, Volkswagen Foundation, and Compagnia di San Paolo, 2012–2014). A consortium of 10 partners from 7 countries — leading the Institutions Work Package
  • Climate Change Adaptation for Natural Resource Management in East Coast Australia, Natural Resource Management (NRM) Climate Change Impacts and Adaptation Research Grants Program (UQ, Griffith, USC, CSIRO, Qld Govt, NSW Govt) 2013–2016
  • Community Vulnerability and Extreme Events: Development of a Typology of Coastal Settlement Vulnerability to Aid Adaptation Strategies (ARC Discovery, 2011–2013) (Baum, Arthurson and Smith)
  • Too Big to Ignore: Global Partnership for Small-Scale Fisheries Research 

Examples of recent past projects

  • Transition Management:  Enabling Science Impact in Australia's Coastal Zone (A CSIRO Cluster:  'Clearing the path for science impact:  Identifying and overcoming the social and institutional barriers to effective and integrated management of Australia's coastal zone in the face of future change'):  Curtin University of Technology, University of the Sunshine Coast, University of Wollongong, University of Tasmania, Deakin University, University of Adelaide, and Flinders University (2011–2013) — leading the Adaptive Learning Theme
  • Australian Adaptation Research Network for Marine Biodiversity and Resources:  University of Tasmania and 16 partners (2009–2013) — leading the Communities Theme 
  • Integrated Coastal Area Management in Soc Trang Province, Vietnam (GIZ, 2012–2013) (Smith, Thomsen and Gould)
  • Community Plan Sustainability Indicators Report, Sunshine Coast Council (2013) (Thomsen, Smith and Stephenson)
  • Prioritising Coastal Adaptation and Development Options for Local Governments (in partnership with Sydney Coastal Councils Group, Oak Ridge National Laboratory and USC) (2011–2012)
  • Nature and utility of adaptive capacity research (National Climate Change Adaptation Research Facility, 2009–2010) (Smith, Daffara and Keys)
  • Regional Sustainability Indicators for the Sunshine Coast (Sunshine Coast Regional Council 2009) (Smith, Carter, Stephenson and Mangoyana)
  • Systems approach to regional climate change adaptation strategies in metropolises, (Department of Climate Change and Energy Efficiency/Australian Greenhouse Office, 2006–2008). (Smith, Preston, Brooke, Goddard, Measham, McInnes, Abbs, Withycombe, Morrison and Beveridge)

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