Justine Shaw is an Australian Antarctic researcher, best known for her conservation work on subantarctic islands, currently working at the University of Queensland.
Early life and education
Shaw completed her BSc at the University of Queensland in 1996. Her first field season with the Australian National Antarctic Research Expedition was to Macquarie Island in the summer of 1996. She received her PhD in 2005 from the University of Tasmania, focusing on the plant ecology of subantarctic islands. She undertook a Postdoctoral Fellowship at the Centre of Excellence for Invasion Biology, Stellenbosch University, South Africa from 2007-2010.
Career and impact
Shaw is currently a Research Fellow at the Centre for Biodiversity and Conservation Science, School of Biological Sciences, at the University of Queensland. She has spent 20 years focused on Antarctic conservation science and environmental policy; working on a diverse range of plants and animals, ecosystems and management issues. Her main research areas include: multiple species interactions, impacts of non-native species, design of Antarctic protected areas, and island conservation by invasive species eradication. Her research has directly impacted policy, via her advice to the Australian state and federal governments and through her work for the Committee for Environmental Protection of the Antarctic Treaty System. She regularly leads workshops and conferences on issues relating to invasive species, Antarctic biodiversity and threatened species management for academic research groups and government agencies.
Her seminal work on Antarctic Protected Areas was published in the high impact journal PLOS Biology in 2014. This work had wide uptake in the media at a global scale appearing in Australian, Indian, French, US and Malaysian newspapers, reporting that Antarctic terrestrial ecosystems require greater protection from human activities. Her research received its most prominent exposure when it was profiled on a segment on Last Week Tonight highlighting the risk to Antarctica posed by human visitors, with the YouTube clip alone reaching over 2 million views.
Shaw has undertaken field research and led science research teams to the sub-Antarctic Heard, Macquarie, Marion, Prince Edward and South Georgia islands. She has been a member of the Australian National Antarctic program, the South African National Antarctic Programme and been hosted by the British Antarctic Survey. Altogether she has spent almost 3 years on various subantarctic islands. She has travelled on numerous research vessels across much of the Southern Ocean.
Outreach and community support
Shaw has also worked to improve outreach, collaboration, and networking within the Antarctic research community. In 2014, she co-founded Women in Polar Science, an interdisciplinary professional network, which uses social media to connect people around the issues and achievements of women working in polar science. Shaw was also the 2016 science program co-ordinator for the leadership training program, Homeward Bound. She has discussed her research and Antarctic protection on several radio programs, including 3RRR and ABC Hobart.