Professor Geoff Cary

BAppSc (Environmental Biology) (Hons) UTS; PhD (Ecology) ANU
Professor, bushfire science, Fenner School of Environment & Society
ANU College of Science

Areas of expertise

  • Forestry Fire Management 070503
  • Fire Ecology 410205
  • Environmental Science And Management 0502



Geoff’s research interests include: landscape-scale simulation of fire management & climate change effects on fire regimes; fire ecology from genes to communities; house loss in wildland fire; and laboratory experimentation of fire behaviour. He co-led an international group of landscape-scale wildland fire simulation modellers.

Geoff gave a keynote address, on fuel management & house loss, at the Wildland Fire Canada Conference (Kananaskis, 2012). He was an invited speaker at the 10th World Wilderness Congress (Spain, 2013), the International Association of Landscape Ecology World Congress (USA, 2015), Banff International Research Station fire management workshop (Canada, 2017), an International Workshop of Fire Ecology (China, 2019), and the US National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine workshop on greenhouse gas emissions from wildland fires (2023).

Media engagement includes Voice of America and ABC Radio National ‘The World Today’.


Geoff teaches bushfire dynamics and management in ANU courses, including ‘Fire in the Environment (Convenor), with contributions to: ‘Island Sustainable Development’, 'Environment & Society'; 'Climate Change Vulnerability & Adaptation'; 'Biodiversity Conservation'; and 'Environmental Policy'.


Geoff is Associate Director (Research) in the Fenner School and was Associate Director (Higher Degree Research). He is on the Editorial Advisory Committee, and was Associate Editor (2002-2023), for the International Journal of Wildland Fire. He sits on the CoS Research Committee & Fenner School Executive Committee, and served on the CoS Reconciliation Action Plan Committee, FSES Local Area Consultative Committee, ANU WHS Fieldwork Advisory Group, ANU Statistical Consulting Unit Advisory Committee, and NSW Parks & Wildlife Advisory Council. He mentored in the ANU NECTAR early career program.

Researcher's projects

ARC Discovery Project

‘Can animal dispersal inform fire management for species conservation?’ with Sam Banks, Geoff Cary, Hugh Davies, Graeme Gillespie, and others

ARC Discovery Project

‘Managing Australian landscapes to reduce house loss during fire’ with Phil Gibbons, Geoff Cary, Steve Dovers, Max Moritz

ARC Linkage Project

‘Fauna, Fuel and effects of native animals on fuel dynamics and bushfire risks' with David Lindenmayer, Geoff Cary, Paul Kardol, David Wardle, and Postdoctoral Research Fellow Claire Foster

ARC Linkage Infrastructure, Equipment and Facilities Grant

‘Australian mountain environmental research infrastructure facility' with Adrienne Nicotra and others

Bushfire and Natural Hazards Cooperative Research Centre Project

'Mapping Bushfire Hazards and Impacts' with Marta Yebra, Albert van Dijk, Geoff Cary

ACIAR Project

‘Improving community fire management and peatland restoration in Indonesia' with ANU Investigators Luca Tacconi, Geoff Cary, Peter Kanowski, John McCarthy, Lisa Robins, Lorrae Van Kerkhoff, and others

Available student projects

Projects are developed in consultation with potential students.

Current student projects

Heather Burns (Fenner School, ANU)

PhD: Examining the effectiveness of supplementary habitats for small mammals and reptiles after fire (Associate Supervisor)

Rachel Taylor (Fenner School, ANU)

PhD: Australian fire season severity forecasting in present and future climates (Associate Supervisor)

Sami Ullah Shah (Fenner School, ANU)

PhD: Development of a composite method to predict wildfire hazard using remote sensing data and GIS (Associate Supervisor)

Kyle Townsend (Fenner School, ANU)

PhD: Evolving governance: The future of fire (Associate Supervisor)

Vicki Miller (School of Culture, History and Language, ANU)

PhD: Long term fire and vegetation change in south-western Victoria: Disentangling anthropogenic factors from natural drivers (Associate Supervisor)

Alex Carey (Charles Darwin University)

PhD: Using landscape genetics and other tools to understand how spatial patterns of fire affect the dispersal and persistence of mammals on the Tiwi islands (external Associate Supervisor)

Past student projects

Past Graduate Research Supervision

Dr Matt Gale (Fenner School, ANU)

PhD: Applications of LiDAR for bushfire fuel assessment in Australian forests (Primary Supervisor and Panel Chair)

Dr Matt Chard (Fenner School, ANU)

PhD: Flora, fauna & fire: Feedbacks of macropod herbivory on fire regimes (Associate Supervisor)

Dr Li Zhao (Fenner School, ANU)

 PhD: Incorporating soil moisture dynamics for dead fine fuel moisture estimates (Associate Supervisor)

Dr Daniel May  (School of History, ANU)

 PhD: Taking Fire: The Historical and Contemporary Politics of Indigenous Burning in Australia and the Western United States (Associate Supervisor)

Dr Michael Doherty (Fenner School, ANU)

 PhD: Fire Severity and Plant Community Dynamics in the Australian Alps, Southeastern New South Wales (Primary Supervisor and Panel Chair)

Dr Kelly Dixon (Fenner School, ANU)

PhD: Achieving ecological integrity in protected areas: aligning fire management with conservation objectives (Associate Supervisor)

Dr David Taylor (Fenner School, ANU)

PhD: Prescribed burning to increase the richness of long-unburned and fragmented mallee communities (Primary Supervisor and Panel Chair)

Dr Robyn Shaw (Research School of Biology, ANU)

PhD: The genetic consequences of demography and disturbance in small mammal populations (Associate Supervisor)

Dr Zoe Reynolds (Research School of Biology, ANU)

PhD: Disturbed birds: The function of fire in shaping patterns of avian diversity in south-eastern Australia (Associate Supervisor)

Dr Ian Davies (Fenner School, ANU)

PhD: Scale and abstraction: The sensitivity of fire-regime simulation to nuisance parameters (Primary Supervisor and Panel Chair)

Dr Luke Nguyen-Hoan (Computer Science, ANU)

PhD: Visualising ecological scenarios and simulations (Supervisor)

Dr Phil Zylstra (ADFA, UNSW)

PhD: Forest flammability - modeling and managing a complex system (co-supervisor)

Dr Juliana Lazzari (Fenner School, ANU)

PhD: Fire and fragmentation interactions: effects on reptiles and small mammals in modified semi-arid landscapes (Associate Supervisor for component of program)

Dr Adam Leavesley (Fenner School, ANU)

PhD: The response of birds to the fire regimes of mulga woodlands in central Australia (Primary Supervisor and Panel Chair)

Dr Lyndsey Vivian (Fenner School, ANU)

PhD: Variation in fire response traits of plants in mountainous plant communities of south-eastern Australia (Primary Supervisor and Panel Chair)

Dr Karen King (Fenner School, ANU)

PhD: Simulating the effects of anthropgenic burning on patterns of biodiversity (Primary Supervisor and Panel Chair)

Dr Auro Almeida (Fenner School, ANU)

PhD: Application of a process-based model for predicting and explaining growth in Eucalyptus plantations (Panel Chair)

(Dr) Mourad Jaffar-Bandjee (Master of Environment, Université Paris Sud, France)

Effect of disturbance on genetic diversity (Supervisor)

Nic Gellie (MPhil, Fenner School, ANU)

Landscape Susceptibility to Large Fires (Primary Supervisor and Panel Chair)


Past Honours Research Supervision

Riley Guyatt (Fenner School, ANU; CSIRO), Honours: Investigating the behaviour of backing fire in dry eucalypt litter under controlled conditions; 2023 Tillyard Prize recipient (ANU Supervisor)

Sophia Cain (Fenner School, ANU), Honours: Impacts of macropod herbivory on plant traits - consequences for flammability (Co-supervisor)

Margot Schneider (Fenner School, ANU), Honours: Exploring the effects of past fire regimes on leaf chemistry: Can fire make a system more flammable? (Co-supervisor)

Matt Gale (Fenner School, ANU), Vulnerability of post-fire Eucalyptus delegatensis regeneration across stand boundaries

Lauren De Waal (Research School of Engineering, ANU), Grassland curing and moisture content monitoring with automated sensing systems

Nick Wilson (Fenner School, ANU), Effects of competition on vegetation structure and fuel characteristics

James Hall (Fenner School, ANU), Combustion and flight characteristics of smooth-bark firebrands

Josh Mulvaney (Fenner School, ANU), Fire behaviour variability arising from standard fuel beds in a horizontal wind tunnel

Amy Davidson (Fenner School, ANU), Statistical modeling of fire frequency in the Sydney region

Rob de Ligt (Fenner School, ANU), Modelling fire probability in the Sydney region

Carola K. de Bednarik (ANU), Factors affecting fire severity in the 2003 bushfires

Lyndsey Vivian (ANU), Recruitment at eucalypt stand boundaries after bushfires

Christine Kelly (ANU), Effects of fire frequency on subalpine understory

Michael Nguyen (ANU), Bushfire effects on water yield

Rochelle Richards (ANU), Snow gum sensitivity to bushfire scar formation

Brendan Pippen (ANU), Modelling bushfire fuel moisture content

Ben Stein (ANU), Species distribution modelling

Alison Pritchard (ANU), Bushfire fuel modelling


Past Supervision of Independent Research and Advanced Studies Projects

Josie Ginty (PhB Scholar), The environmental impacts of global change: a case study in Eucalyptus pauciflora (Supervisor)

Josh Mulvaney (Fenner School), Using fuel moisture models to develop an experimental burning program (Supervisor)

Rachael Tarlinton (Fenner school), Use of hyperspectral remote sensing data for assessing fuel moisture content (Supervisor)

The Environmental Impacts of Global Changes: a case study in Eucalyptus pauciflora



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Updated:  25 June 2024 / Responsible Officer:  Director (Research Services Division) / Page Contact:  Researchers