Professor Karen Gibb

DNA Technology for Real-World Solutions

Professor Karen Gibb is a University of Adelaide (Waite Campus) alumna and environmental microbiologist with 30 years of research experience. She is Co-Director of the Research Institute for the Environment and Livelihoods at Charles Darwin University (CDU). She also leads the Environmental Chemistry and Microbiology Unit (ECMU), which is a research and commercial unit at CDU. Karen and her team investigate microbes in the environment including interactions with animals, and responses to contaminants in marine, estuarine and aquatic environments. ECMU’s research has supported important improvements in the methods and policies that underpin the sustainable management of marine, estuarine and aquatic systems across northern Australia. The government now mandates some of the methods developed by ECMU for environmental monitoring.

The core research strengths of the ECMU are:

  1. The use of trace-metal and nutrient data combined with stable isotope data to determine the source of industrial and urban contaminants in tropical marine and terrestrial environments,
  2. The ecology of opportunistic water-borne pathogens, and environmental microbiology to track the sources of biological contaminants in tropical aquatic environments, and
  3. Trace DNA to track terrestrial species at waterholes.

Karen has co-authored 140 refereed papers. Her service to the community includes chairing the Darwin Harbour Advisory Committee that provides advice to the Northern Territory Government on the effective management of Darwin Harbour and its catchment to ensure a balance between; sustainable development, a working harbour important to a range of cultural, recreational and economic values, and the protection and maintenance of healthy environments and ecosystems in the harbour and its catchment, now and into the future.