Welcome to UNSW Earth and Sustainability Science Research Centre (ESSRC) 

UNSW ESSRC is a multidisciplinary research group that investigates the drivers and impacts of a changing Earth, and advises policy and decision makers about creating a more sustainable future.

For researchers interested in joining the ESSRC as an ARC Future or DECRA Fellow, we’d love to hear from you. Please email ESSRC@unsw.edu.au providing an overview of your background and proposed project, and one of the team will get back to you shortly.

Many biologists and ecologists are engaged in research about living organisms and communities on timescales of at most a few decades, and all of which have been affected by human activity. There is, therefore, a pressing need to understand the range of natural variability of earth and biological systems in order to enhance our capacity to discriminate natural cycles from recent human-induced perturbations.

A deep time perspective – encompassing timeframes of thousands, millions or even billions of years – provides this through its emphasis on understanding how the Earth functioned prior to human impacts as well as the complex and synergistic interplay between the evolution of the lithosphere, biosphere and atmosphere.

ESSRC research aims to understand the range of natural variability of complex earth and biological systems, enhancing our capacity to discriminate natural cycles from recent human perturbations.

The inter-linkages between the evolution of the Earth and landscapes and emergence and diversification of life is a major focus of research by ESSRC researchers. 

All of this is the 'palaeosciences' perspective, and it opens windows onto conditions, worlds and systems that no longer exist, providing insights into the Earth’s systems prior to human disruption. And, in doing so, it offers new insights into a range of critical areas with practical consequence – like species and ecological community conservation, landscape and resource use and management, and even human health – as well as providing understanding that touches us all deeply in our shared curiosity about life’s and Earth’s past.

Not to neglect the important role humans have played in the more recent phase of Earth's history, ESSRC also undertakes research into the biological, cultural and behavioural origins of humankind back to the earliest hominins as well as understanding ancient and recent human and environmental interactions, human ecologies and impacts, social consequences of such interactions and even geo- and cultural heritage