Ms Sondoss El Sawah

Honorary Associate Professor, Fenner School of Environment and Society
ANU College of Science

Areas of expertise

  • Information Systems 0806
  • Environmental Science And Management 0502
  • Decision Support And Group Support Systems 080605
  • Computer Human Interaction 080602
  • Conceptual Modelling 080603

Research interests

  • Systems thinking and modelling
  • Development of multi-method modelling processes and methods
  • Pedagogy of systems and participatory modelling
  • Learning and decision making 
  • Complex socio-environmental-technical problems
  • Interaction between system thinking, modelling, and AI



I have focused my research and teaching programs on advancing the science and practice of systems thinking, and especially its applications in public policy, engineering, and education. I have ventured on developing methods, tools, and applications to challenge and stretch the boundaries of conventional mental models beyond immediate and direct outcomes to understand the long-term and system-wide effects created by these mental models.

I have produced over 90 academic publications including articles in reputable journals, a diverse range of book chapters, conference papers, reports, blogs, and edited collections. My publications include journal articles recognized by the Web of Science to be high impact articles in computer science. My research has been recognized by 8 awards from national and international bodies, including the prestigious Research Award by the International Environmental Modelling and Software Society (2018). I am also the first female recipient of the Australian Operations Research Society Rising Star Award (2016). Both awards are devoted to recognize science talents and academic excellence.

Through a series of ARC and industry funded projects, I have led and worked in several projects that pursue high stake public policy issues, such as: climate change adaptation, risk assessment of the cumulative impacts of mining on ecological and social assets, sustainable management of Australia’s groundwater resource, and policy design with consideration of food-environment-water-energy nexus.

The policy impact of my research program has been recognized by the prestigious Peter Cullen Trust (PCT) fellowship award (outstanding fellow of the year; 2014). This fellowship recognizes leaders in science and policy who have an impact in bridging the science-policy gap.


Past student projects

  • Kurran Sindhu (completed, 2020), Honours Project, Use of scenario planning and dynamic models for energy futures in the ACT
  • Aya Hussein (completed, 2020), PhD, The development of AI algorithms, simulation models, and human experiments to understand the role of trust in human-machine interactions.
  • Fateme Zare (completed, 2020), PhD, Integrated water assessment for the Campaspe region
  • Ebrahim Aly (2020-present), PhD, Use of integrated modelling for investigating water-energy-food nexus.
  • Jason Evans, (2018-present), PhD, Use of education instructional theories to inform the development of serious games

Kurran Sindhu, ANU

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Updated:  16 July 2024 / Responsible Officer:  Director (Research Services Division) / Page Contact:  Researchers