Dr Peter Nichols

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Dr Peter Nichols


Teaching areas

  • Engineering Problem Solving ENG101

Research areas

  • water sensitive urban design
  • stormwater management
  • permeable pavement technology
  • floating wetland treatment systems
  • stormwater filtration systems
  • environmental engineering


Dr Peter Nichols is an ecologist, landscape and environmental management specialist. He has had substantial experience in the field of ecological research and assessment, landscape horticulture and project management and administration. He has spent most of his career integrating his environmental specialist skills, knowledge and experience with the practical application of projects within the civil engineering industry. Projects include environmental assessment and permitting, specific environmental and ecological assessment and research, over fifty cases as an expert witness (planning, arboricultural and ecological) in the NSW Land and Environment Court, and over ten years of ecological assessment and research experience. Dr Nichols also has experience coordinating business planning, policy development planning and operational delivery of the Parks and Gardens Branch of the fourth largest local government in Australia. His experience also includes all types of residential and commercial construction projects.

From 2002 to 2006, Dr Nichols undertook a PhD in Restoration Ecology at the University of Western Sydney.

Dr Nichols joined the USC in 2013 as a postdoctoral research fellow investigating synergies between water sensitive urban design, stormwater management, pavement construction and the natural environment. Dr Nichols is a part of a highly active research team led by Dr Lucke at USC and who has established a significant engineering research team at USC, particularly in the areas of Water Sensitive Urban Design (WSUD) and stormwater management. The current research team comprises one post-doctoral research fellow and eleven research students, including three PhD candidates and eight honours students. Dr Lucke currently manages a research portfolio of over $1 million in a variety of research areas and projects.

Professional memberships

  • Member, Royal Zoological Society of NSW
  • Member, Society for Ecological Restoration
  • Member, Ecological Society of Australia
  • Member, Australian Institute of Horticulture
  • Founding member of the Institute of Australian Consulting Arborists


Journal articles

Gopinath Kathiravelu, Terry Lucke & Peter Nichols (2016) Rain Drop Measurement Techniques: A Review. (Stormwater Special Ed.) Water.mdpi open access.

Darren Drapper, Terry Lucke & Peter Nichols (2015) Field and evaluation methods used to test the performance of a stormceptor® class 1 stormwater treatment device in Australia. Water 7(12): 16311-16323.

Peter W.B. Nichols, Terry Lucke (2015) The pollution removal and stormwater reduction performance of street-side bioretention basins after ten years in operation. Science of the Total Environment, 536: 784–792.

Peter W. B. Nichols, and Terry Lucke. (2015) Local Level Stormwater Harvesting and Reuse: A Practical Solution to the Water Security Challenges Faced by Urban Trees. Sustainability, 7: 8635-8648.

Peter W.B. Nichols, Richard White, Terry Lucke. (2015) Do sediment type and test durations affect results of laboratory-based, accelerated testing studies of permeable pavement clogging? Science of the Total Environment, 511: 786-791.

Peter W.B. Nichols & Terry Lucke (2015) Does One Particular Size of Sediment Initiate Clogging Processes in Permeable Pavement Systems. CLEAN- Soil Air Water.

Lucke, T., White, R., Nichols, P., Borgwardt, S. (2015) A simple field test to evaluate the maintenance requirements of permeable interlocking concrete pavements. Water 7 (6): 2542-2554.

Terry Lucke & Peter W.B. Nichols. (2015) Do sediment type and test durations affect results of laboratory-based, accelerated testing studies of permeable pavement clogging? Science of the Total Environment, 511: 786-791.

Peter W.B. Nichols, Terry Lucke, Carsten Dierkes (2014) Comparing Two Methods of Determining Infiltration Rates of Permeable Interlocking Concrete Pavers, Water mdpi open access.

Nichols, P.W.B., Morris, E.C. and Keith, D.A. (2010) Testing a facilitation model for ecosystem restoration: Does tree planting restore ground layer species in a grassy woodland? Austral Ecology, 35, pp.888–897.

Conference proceedings

Peter Nichols & Terry Lucke (submitted 15/11/15) Debris behaviour during storms and the optimisation of culvert design. Conference Proceedings Novatech 2016 Lyon, FRANCE.

Kathiravelu, Gopinath, Lucke, T., Nichols, Peter. Designing the perfect rainfall simulator for urban stormwater studies: an impossible dream? (2014) Proceedings of the 13th International Conference on Urban Drainage, pp.1-9.

Nichols, Peter, Lucke, T., Dierkes, Carsten., Keeshan, Georgia, Denny, Lancelot., Permeable Pavements: Particle Size Distributions, Infiltration and Clogging—The Road to Durable Performance. (2014) 13th International Conference on Urban Drainage Book of Abstracts, pp.98

Kathiravelu, Gopinath., Lucke, T., White, R., Nichols, Peter. Review on design requirements of a rainfall simulator for urban stormwater studies (2014) Proceedings of the 2014 Stormwater Queensland Conference, pp.1-13.

Walker, C., Nichols, Peter., Reeves, Kristin., Lucke, T., Nielsen, Michael., Sullivan, Daryle. Use of floating wetlands to treat stormwater runoff from urban catchments in Australia. (2014) Proceedings of the 13th International Conference on Urban Drainage, pp.1-8.

Mullaney, Jennifer, Lucke, T., Nichols, Peter. Using permeable pavements to increase soil moisture in the urban environment to increase street tree health (2014) Proceedings of the 2014 Stormwater Queensland Conference, pp.1-8.

Potential research projects for HDR and Honours students
  • Water Sensitive Urban Design
  • Permeable pavements and infiltration
  • Culvert performance investigation
  • Floating wetlands stormwater treatment systems
  • Vegetated biofilter stormwater treatment systems
Research grants
Project name Investigators Funding body

Optimising permeable pavements with underlying reservoirs to enhance urban tree performance (Post-doc research project).

T. Lucke; P. Nichols: S Beecham; A. Warren

ARC Linkage (LP120200678) and Industry partner Sunshine Coast Council.

A$150,000 (ARC) +

A$333,000 (In-kind)

Current co-supervision
Topic/title Student name
Honours Developing more appropriate culvert blockage factors for use in flood modelling studies on the Sunshine Coast Brian Manning Dickfos
Honours An investigation of the stormwater pollution removal performance of the SPEL Stormceptor Ronald Kleijn
Honours The effectiveness of floating wetlands in treating stormwater pollutants on Bribie Island Renee Melis
Honours The effectiveness of modular streetside wetlands in treating stormwater pollutants Shelbi Paterson
Honours Using ground penetrating radar to evaluate permeable pavement sub-grade design Johnathon Kennedy
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