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The Australian National University

Dr Elizabeth G (Liz) Hanna

RN, RCCN, BA (Hist & Phil of Sc), MPH, PhD (LaTrobe), FRCNA
Fellow, National Centre for Epidemiology & Population Health, and President Climate and Health Alliance
ANU College of Medicine, Biology and Environment
T: +61 2 6125 5626

Areas of expertise

  • Environmental And Occupational Health And Safety 111705
  • Environmental Sciences Not Elsewhere Classified 059999
  • Environmental Impact Assessment 050204
  • Epidemiology 111706
  • Clinical Nursing: Primary (Preventative) 111002
  • Public Health And Health Services 1117
  • Intensive Care 110310
  • Other Medical And Health Sciences 1199

Research interests

Human health impacts of climate change

Heat exposure - effects on health and productitivty

Disasters - climate related: Community impacts and resilience & public health responses

Health sector response to environmental health challenges

Environmental health assessment

Chemical exposures & Chemical management frameworks

Occupational Health & Safety

Health sector workforce - training, competencies  and skills

Researcher's projects

Project Leader (CIA) for NHMRC Project Grant:

"Climate Change Impacts on Workplace Extremes: Health Risk Estimates and Adaptive Options"

This project, commenced in 2012, to measure thermal micro environments at worksites across southern Australia over summer months, and concurrently measure health and productivity among workers. Analysis involves assessing effects of heat exposure on health and productivty at various locations, to gain an understanding of the differing climatic tolerances in different regions. We will then compare the on-site thermal environments with ‘local’ BoM recordings and, using IPCC Climate scenarios, project forward,  the future working climatic environments and likely health impacts. The project will also assess efficacy of heat protective policies, as adaptation strategies.

Data collection is continuing throughout the summer of 2014-15, and we invite participation from heat exposed industries.


“Climate Change in Pacific Island Countries - A Health Overview”

This Australian Government  funded project examined the health vulnerabilities among Pacific Island Countries arising from Climate Change. Specific focus was given to:

1.       Vector borne diseases;

2.       Food security and food-borne diseases;

3.       Water security and water-borne diseases;

4.       Direct effects of weather extremes: storms, sea surges, droughts and  increased temperatures; and

5.       Exacerbation of existing chronic health conditions.


 Chief Investigator - NHMRC Project - (Project leader Dr Keith Dear)

“Changing Heat: direct impacts of temperature on health –  current risks and climate change projections” In this project I am the Chief Investigator examining specific vulnerabilities  to heat exposure, and limits to acclimatisation.


 Chief Investigator - NHMRC Project – (Project leader was Prof Tony McMichael)

“Climate Change & Rural Communities: Integrated study of physical & social impacts, health risks & adaptive options” This large and complex study explored rural communities coping with climate change, with as per their mental health, food issues, and fire exposure.

In this project I was the  Chief Investigator responsible for analysing past physical  health effects of bushfires in Australia, and I will then apply these findings to the future fire regimes under a warming climate (developed by Geoff Cary & Karen King Fenner School ANU) to derive estimate of the future health risks, and service sector demands.


Convenor: National Climate Change Adaptation Research Network for Human Health.

Funded from Nov 2009 at $240k per annum for 4 years to develop Climate Change Adaptation knowledge and expertise iin Australia.

Available student projects

I invite applications from students interested in pursuing further studies in area related to my research interests.

 This section will be updated shortly to provide greater detail of potential study projects

Current student projects

"The health impacts of climate change in the South Pacific".   PhD candidate Dr Lachlan McIvor

•Literature review
–Health impacts of climate change
–Review of climate-sensitive diseases in the Pacific
•Environmental epidemiology of climate-sensitive infectious diseases in the South Pacific
–Analysis of the relationship between climatic factors and climate-sensitive infectious diseases in selected countries (time series, Poisson regression, ?ARIMA, ?estimate of future climate change-attributable burden of disease)
•Solomon Islands:  malaria
•Kiribati:  diarrhoeal illness
•Fiji:  leptospirosis
•Northern Micronesia (FSM, RMI, Palau):  diarrhoeal & respiratory diseases, dengue, leptospirosis
•Atoll countries (Kiribati, RMI, ?Tuvalu):  TB (in context of sea-level rise, overcrowding and burden of type 2 diabetes)
•Health governance issues in the context of climate change in northern Micronesia
–Actors, authority and the value of “non-traditional” linkages
•Climate change and health adaptation planning in the Pacific
–Lessons learned from 11 countries and the ingredients of the “ideal” CC&H adaptation plan in the Pacific

Past student projects

The impact of climate change in the Pacific Region on water security, water-borne disease, food security, food-borne disease and vector-borne disease.

Prevention, Evaluation and Policy Project  (PEPP).  4th Medical Students ANU (Hayley Engel, Haiyao He, Jana Li, Agnes Luty, Rajivi Prematunga, and Paris Ramrakha)  provided an assessment of existing baseline data availability in the Pacific and analysed the existing health status, health threats, resilience and health system responses to these conditions.  This PEPP  project contributed to this larger Pacific Work Program  by examining three of the six priority  issues that have particular clinical relevance:  vector borne diseases, water  and food-borne diseases.  For each health issue, the task was to extend the preparation work of a Discussion Paper, and provide greater detail pertaining to each country using the downscaled climate projections developed by CSIRO.


Summer Scholar Project - Climate Change Vulnerability in Pacific Island Countries.

This program of work builds on the IPCC’s work on small islands and extends the understanding of climate change impacts in the Pacific. We were tasked with providing a regional assessment of climate change health issues in Pacific Island countries.  Current understandings of the impacts for these countries remains patchy, and is by no means comprehensive, and there appears to be no overarching analysis of vulnerability assessment. Our aim was to generate this information to assist individual nations to prioritise their future activities, and promote adaptive capacity building. The Summer Scholar Project (Marija Apostoloska - Med Student University of Tasmania) conducted background research and prepared the first draft of the Discussion Paper used as a Framework for a regional meeting of health experts in Noumea.


Summer Scholar Project - Health impacts of heat exposure in ACT- Key Informant Interviews

(Sudhvir Singh - Med Student University of Auckland)

Australian summers are hot, but the effect of hot working conditions in Australian workplaces is unknown. A key informants' survey is needed to scope the views of stakeholders on this issue. We were interested in determining whether industries already recognise that this as a workplace issue, how they currently identify heat stress in the workplace, what mechanisms they currently use for managing or reducing heat stress, and whether they have been able to quantify a change in productivity resulting from hot environmental conditions. This study interviewed key informants from peak industry and union organisations around Australia. The interview questions will be based on the effect of heat on productivity.  Participants were workers and Occupational Health and Safety Officers from peak industry or union organisations, chosen from a variety of industries, to reflect diversity in the types of work practice (i.e. physical or cognitive) and the types of heat exposure (i.e. radiant heat, metabolic heat, and ambient heat).

Accompanying this study was a continuous monitoring temperature and relative humidity at various workplaces and locations around Canberra during a 3 months summer period. This was to determine the small scale variation in thermal conditions, and to compare with Bureau of Meteorology recordings at the Canberra Airport.


Scope of Australia’s Climate Change Vulnerability & Public Health Policy Needs

Prevention, Evaluation and Policy Project  (PEPP).  4th Medical Students ANU (Belinda Allan, Corey Dore, Sarah Golding, Perla Moukhaiber, William Mitchell, Gavin Williams) The aim of this project was to provide a background paper on human health vulnerabilities to climate change within the Australian Capital Territory (ACT), to assist the development of adaptive measures in population health policy.


  1. Detailed literature review addressing climate change consequences on human health in the context of Australia’s most susceptible environments and population subsets.
  2. Demography including analysis of Australian Bureau of Statistics population data and extrapolation of climate change predictions to ACT-specific vulnerabilities. This includes subsets of local population most at risk and predictions regarding extent of impact (frequency, duration and intensity) on public health care system.
  3. Policy analysis, restricted to the ACT, and the development of recommendations to increase response capacity within the health care system.

Stakeholders include the ACT Government, National Centre for Epidemiology and Population Health, Department of Health and Aging, residents of the Australian Capital Territory and climate change working groups. Data was obtained from given resources, literature review, IPCC, Australian Bureau of Statistics, Australian Government Climate Change website and other international sources


Projects and Grants

Grants are drawn from ARIES. To add Projects or Grants please contact your College Research Office.

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Updated:  07 March 2015 / Responsible Officer:  Director (Research Services Division) / Page Contact:  Researchers