Coastal and Regional Oceanography Lab

Towards an Integrated Dynamical Understanding of Coastal Marine Systems

The Team



Moninya Roughan

A.Prof. Moninya Roughan PhD

Group Leader

Dr Moninya Roughan's work focuses on improving dynamical understanding of the coastal ocean including physical forcings, nutrient enrichment processes and their biological impact. Moninya uses a combination of observations and numerical models to study the Oceanography of the East Coast Region and coordinates research in this field. She is also co-leader of the NSW node of Australia’s Integrated Marine Observing System (IMOS) and oversees the Physical oceanography component of NSW-IMOS.

Email: mroughan (at)


Dr Schaeffer

Amandine Schaeffer PhD


Amandine is interested in regional ocean dynamics. She currently focuses on marine heatwaves, frontal eddies, cross-shelf transport and upwelling along the Eastern Coast of Australia, predominantly from in situ observations, including ocean gliders, HF radars, moorings and ship-based samplings. She is now also teaching as a lecturer in the school of Maths. During her PhD at the Mediterranean Institute of Oceanography, she investigated the representation of meso/sub-mesoscale dynamics in a high resolution ocean model of the Gulf of Lions (Mediterranean Sea).

More Details

Email: a.schaeffer (at)


Paulina Cetina PhD

Postdoctoral Research Associate

Paulina studied Oceanography (B.Sc) at UABC, Ensenada, BC, Mexico; obtained a M.Sc degree in Physical Oceanography from CICESE, Ensenada, BC, Mexico; and completed her PhD under the supervision of Professor Sean Connolly at James Cook University, Townsville, QLD, Australia. She is interested in the influence of ocean dynamics on ecological processes. Her PhD research investigated the transport of larvae along the Great Barrier Reef focusing on the effect of lee-reef eddies and organism’s life traits on the retention and supply of larvae close to reefs. Methods involved combining the use of hydrodynamic models and numerical experiments with theory and empirical data to disentangle physical mechanisms that drive larval transport. Paulina's work establishes mechanistic links between circulation patterns and the dispersal of larvae to envisage implications on population dynamics under different oceanic environmental conditions. Currently working as a Post- Doctoral Research Associate with Dr. Moninya Roughan, Dr. Erik van Sebille and Dr. Melinda Coleman exploring the long-term variability of the Eastern Australian Current and using a Lagrangian approach to determine how it shapes larval dispersal patterns.

Email: p.cetinaheredia (at)


Colette Kerry PhD

Postdoctoral Research Associate

Colette is interested in studying ocean dynamics through the combination of dynamical ocean modelling and ocean observations. She has expertise with the Regional Ocean Modeling System (ROMS) and its 4-Dimensional Variational (4D-Var) data assimilation tools. Colette began her career as a coastal engineer, conducting a variety of hydrodynamic and wave modeling studies for the oil and gas industry, government bodies and other clients. In 2010 she moved to the University of Hawaii to do her PhD in Physical Oceanography at the School of Ocean and Earth Science and Technology. She used ROMS to study the interactions between internal tides and the eddying ocean circulation and the implications for predictability in regions that contain significant energy at both dynamic scales. At UNSW, she is developing a data-assimilative model of the East Australian Current (EAC) region using ROMS and 4D-Var, and assimilating a variety of data sources including those collected as part of Australia�s Integrated Marine Observing System (IMOS). The project aims to advance our understanding of the dynamics of the EAC and identify how we can best observe this oceanic region to improve model estimates and predictions.

Email: c.kerry (at)


Michael Hemming PhD

Postgraduate Researcher

Michael is responsible for developing NSW-IMOS oceanographic data products, which involves data processing and analysis, quality control, and data dissemination. He is particularly interested in producing climatologies using measurements off the eastern coast of Australia observed at moorings, by underwater gliders and ship. Prior to working at UNSW, he completed his PhD jointly at the University of East Anglia, UK and Universit� Pierre et Marie Curie, France. His PhD involved the calibration and analysis of experimental underwater glider pH sensor measurements, and the investigation of biogeochemical and physical variability using glider, buoy, and ship measurements in the northwestern Mediterranean Sea. He completed a masters degree in Integrated Climate System Science at the University of Hamburg, Germany, and prior to this, a bachelors degree in Oceans, Climate, and Physical Geography at the University of Liverpool, UK. He has seagoing experience in the Southern Ocean, Indian Ocean, Gulf of Oman, and the Mediterranean Sea.

Email: m.hemming (at)


Neil Malan PhD

Postdoctoral Research Associate

Neil focusses on using various combinations of observations and modelling to study Western Boundary Current dynamics, and particularly in how they scale down to impact the continental shelf. He completed his PhD at the University of Cape Town, South Africa on the impact of the Agulhas Current on shelf circulation and has also worked on tropical cyclones and subsurface intensified eddies in the Indian Ocean. His current interests include accurately quantifying cross-shelf exchanges at EAC separation zone, analytical modelling of submesoscale dynamics, and disentangling the various modes of the EAC and their impact on biophysical interactions.

Email: n.malan (at)


Steefan Contractor PhD

Postdoctoral Research Associate

Steefan is passionate about gaining a deep understanding of complex Earth systems such as oceans from large datasets, and to effectively communicate these insights to the broader research community and the public. To this end he is currently working on interactive visualisation of oceanographic data obtained from NSW-IMOS on the web. His research involves using machine learning to model the ocean systems with the ultimate aim of increasing the predictability of impactful ocean phenomena.

Steefan completed his PhD in Climate Science at the Climate Change Research Centre, UNSW where he created and analysed the longest running global dataset of daily precipitation observations. In this way Steefan helped further the understanding of the changes and variability of precipitation and its extremes with climate change in the last century. Steefan has also co-created, a website that shows how real-time air temperatures compare to historical observations to identify extremes, thus helping to raise climate change literacy.

Email: s.contractor (at)




Tim Austin

Tim Austin PhD

Ocean Research Technical

Tim looks after the NSW-IMOS Moored Scientific Arrays at Solitary Islands Marine Park and Batemans Marine Park and manages upkeep of electronic scientific equipment. Tim handles ADCP, Acoustic Release and Tracker technicals and is responsible for data processing, QC and uploading.


Email: t.austin (at)


Stuart Milburn MSc DipSci

Ocean Research Technical

Stuart manages NSW-IMOS Ocean Gliders, Aqualoggers and our realtime Sydney Harbour Marine Observatory (SHMO) at Sow and Pigs Reef as well as working on the NSW-IMOS Moored Scientific Arrays. Stuart also looks after web development and is involved in Sydney Harbour in-situ research, ROMS Modelling, connectivity research and development.


Email: stuart.milburn (at)



Nina Ribbat - PhD Candidate

Nina is investigating the coupled estuarine-shelf exchange flow at the mouth of the Sydney Harbour Estuary using the Regional Ocean Modelling System (ROMS). Understanding and monitoring the oceanographic processes governing the estuarine-shelf exchange in this dynamic environment is essential both for the prediction of nutrient/ contaminant flushing/residence times and flow dynamics through a combination of observations and numerical modelling. In addition, this project aims to investigate the physical dynamics controlling nutrient flux around an Offshore Artificial Reef off Sydney.

Email: n.ribbat (at)


Carlos Rocha - PhD Candidate

Carlos is interested in the use of numerical ocean models (especially ROMS) as research tools in the study of bio-physical coupled processes, such as the influence of ocean dynamics in key biogeochemical parameters and particle transport. As a research fellow at University of Aveiro (Portugal), he participated in the creation of an operational ROMS configuration for the NW Iberian Shelf, being also responsible for the implementation of a biogeochemical (NPZD) module and the development of an interactive application for particle tracking. In his PhD, Carlos aims to advance our understanding of the role of eddies on the biogeochemical dynamics in Australia's SE coast region, with special focus on the BGC response to the entrainment of coastal waters into these structures, implications of CCE/WCE presence on the shelf and in providing insight into future scenarios.

Email: c.vieirarocha (at)


Eduardo Queiroz - PhD candidate

Eduardo is currently researching the characteristics of the strength and variability of internal waves along the East coast of Australia. Studying the modulation of internal waves in a mesocale circulation such as the Eastern Australian Current and its eddy field allows to better understand the distribution and predictability of internal tide mixing. This research is part of the Australia's Integrated Marine Observing System (IMOS) project and aims to investigate the origin of the internal tides, the propagation on the shelf and the mechanisms of variability.

Email: e.vitarelliqueiroz (at)


Ziyu (Amanda) Xiao - PhD Candidate

Primary supervisor - Xiao Hua Wang , UNSW Canberra

Amanda studies the estuarine hydrodynamics and sediment dynamics in the Sydney Harbour Estuary using Finite Volume Coastal Ocean Model (FVCOM). Based on a high resolution coastal ocean model, the main physical influence on estuarine mixing, stratification, circulation and sediment suspension/resuspension processes will be investigated in details. Predictions on effects of sediment resuspension and transport on the dynamics of bottom boundary layers will be focused on by developing an idealized estuary model in the Sydney Harbour Estuary.

Email: ziyu.xiao (at)


Louise Castro MPhil

Supervisors: Moninya Roughan & Paulina Cetina

Louise is interested in understanding the shift in fish species distributions poleward as oceans becomes warmer and ocean circulation patterns are modified. Her research will involve modelling the dispersal of tropical herbivorous fish larvae along the east coast of Australia to investigate the impact of climate change on their distribution. This research will aim to link range expansion of herbivorous tropical fish in Sydney to the potential decline in the kelp, Ecklonia radiata, along the East Australian coastline. This kelp is an important habitat-forming organism and is essential to fisheries.

Email: louise.castro (at)



Matt Archer PhD

Postdoctoral Research Associate

Matt�s research focuses on western boundary currents in shelf seas. He works primarily with high frequency (HF) radar, in addition to in-situ data and satellite imagery. HF radar is a powerful tool that provides high resolution 2-D coverage of surface current velocity, enabling us to study in detail the spatio-temporal variability of the currents � important for understanding transport and dispersion of tracers such as fish larvae, or pollutants. Matt joined UNSW in June 2016 from the University of Miami, where he obtained his PhD studying the Florida Current mean jet structure and instabilities. At UNSW, Matt will be working with the IMOS HF radar array in NSW to investigate the dynamics of the East Australian Current.

Email: matt.archer (at)


Shivanesh Rao PhD

Postdoctoral Research Associate

Shivanesh is interested in the interaction between estuaries and coastal oceans through ocean modeling. He studied physical oceanography (PhD) at the University of New Hampshire under the guidance of Prof. James Pringle. His focus was on the influence of the weather band fluctuations on the coupled estuary-coastal ocean system; the goal of his PhD was to understand how the weather band fluctuations alter the interaction between the two regions; does the estuary become saltier/fresher and what causes it? He continued his estuary work in his post-doctoral at University of Maine, under Prof. Fei Chai and Prof. Huijie Xue. His post-doctoral work focused on developing and implementing a nutrient model (CoSiNE) for the San Francisco Bay; the goal of this project was to hind-cast 2004- 2014 to understand how the nutrient fields change in the bay. A Salmon budget model is used to understand how the Salmon population changes. He also worked on developing a model for simulating a tidal turbine in the Cobscook Bay; the goal of this project was to understand the efficiency of tidal farms and what controls this efficiency. He also worked with colleagues to examine the nutrient dynamics along the California coast and South China Sea, and worked on coastal inundation model for the Maine coasts. At UNSW, he is working on understanding the hydrodynamic interaction between Sydney harbor and the adjacent coastal ocean. He is experienced with modeling using ROMS, FVCOM, SCHISM, CoSiNE modeling systems.

Email: shivanesh.rao (at)


Jason Everett PhD

Postdoctoral Research Associate

Co-Supervisor - Prof Iain Suthers

Using satellite Ocean Colour data, Jason is assessing the spatial and temporal trends in Chlorophyll a and Net Primary Productivity (NPP) along the NSW continental shelf and slope. Regions of increased phytoplankton biomass are expected to support higher abundances of zooplankton and larval fish. This has significant implications for our coastal fisheries.

More Details

Email: Jason.Everett (at)


Shane Keating PhD

Lecturer and Research Associate

Shane's research combines applied mathematics, observations, and modelling to deepen our understanding of ocean eddies and their role in the Earth's climate and biosphere. His interests include ocean state estimation, satellite remote sensing, ocean eddy parameterization, and geophysical fluid dynamics.

More Details

Email: s.keating (at)


Brian Powell PhD

Dr. Powell's research focuses on the predictability of the ocean from days to weeks. Prediction relies upon knowledge of the current state. His research includes: determining which ocean observations best improve our current state, which observations improve our forecasts, and the ocean dynamics that are controlling the prediction. He applies his research to various regimes around the globe from fine-scale mixing of biogeochemical processes in Antarctic fjords, mesoscale/internal-tide/topography interactions in the Philippine Sea, wind-ocean turbulence in Hawaii, to fine-scale observations that tie to the ENSO climate over the past thousand years. He also leads the efforts of the Pacific Islands Ocean Observing System to bring research into operational oceanography and provide daily ocean weather forecasts to the community at-large.

Email: powellb (at)


Helen Macdonald

Helen Macdonald PhD

Helen is a numerical modeller specialising in ROMS. Her research interests include investigating the anatomy of meso-scale eddies in the Australian region. Currently working at New Zealand's NIWA, the National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research.

Email: helen.mcdonald (at)


Julie Wood

Julie Wood PhD

Julie completed her PhD here at UNSW using a long timeseries of moored observations to investigate seasonality and eddy encroachment in the coastal ocean off New South Wales. She is now working in the Moorings and Sensors group at Southhampton.

Email: julie.e.wood (at)



Linda Armbrecht PhD

Linda’s primary research interest is in biological oceanography and climate change related phytoplankton dynamics. Her PhD project aims to establish a baseline study of phytoplankton composition and biogeochemistry in the Coffs Harbour region, Eastern Australia, as a reference for future research. Being influenced by the warm southward flowing East Australian Current (EAC) the area is regarded a biological hotspot with a unique tropical-temperate species mix. Physical EAC parameters are changing and community shifts from temperate towards potentially toxic tropical species are expected. Such alterations at the primary producer level may severely affect the functioning of the East Australian coastal ecosystem.

E-mail: linda.armbrecht (at)


Allessandra Mantovanelli PhD

Postdoctoral Research Associate

Alessandra studies coastal oceanographic processes controlling particle transport and dispersion combining radar-based particle tracking modelling and in situ Lagrangian (drifting buoys) and Eulerian (ACDP, HF radar) observations.

Research interests: continental shelf and estuarine circulation, cohesive sediment dynamics, ecological modelling, Lagrangian analysis and the development of data assimilation techniques and biological connectivity.



Zhigang Lai PhD

Research Associate

Lai's research interest is on the modeling of oceanic processes in estuaries or coastal seas to gain insights into the fundamental dynamics. He currently focuses on river plume dynamics and frontal process in the Pearl River estuary (China) using unstructured-grid ocean model FVCOM. During his PhD, he developed the nonhydrostatic capability of FVCOM which has been used to investigate the large amplitude, nonlinear, internal wave dynamics and the associated biological influences in Massachusetts Bay.



  • Amandine Schaeffer - Postdoc (2011-2017)
  • Shivanesh Rao - Postdoc (2015-2017)
  • Anthony Gramoulle - Intern (2015 - 2016)
  • Linda Armbrecht - PhD Candidate (2011-2015)
  • Dana White - Summer Intern (2013)
  • Julie Wood - PhD Candidate (2010 - 2013)
  • Sotiris Kioroglou - Data Scientist (2012-2013)
  • Vincent Rossi - Postdoc (2010 - 2012)
  • Helen Macdonald - PhD Candidate (2008-2012)
  • Bradley Morris - NSW-IMOS Moorings Operations Manager (2009-2012)
  • Gordon Macdonald - Electronics Technician (UNSW/UTS) (2011-2012)
  • Guillaume Galibert - Data Scientist/Programmer (UTas) (2011-2012)
  • Stuart Milburn - Masters Student (2010-2011)
  • Brett Hallam - Vacation Student (2007-2008)
  • Matthew Perrett - Vacation Student (2007-2008)
  • Tess Pritchard - Undergraduate Project (S1 2007)
  • Jeremy Badcock - Vacation Student (2006-2007, 2007-2008)