Dr Emilie Ens leads the Cross-cultural Ecology Lab and teaches into the Environmental Management program in the new School of Natural Sciences at Macquarie University. She is passionate about the need to respectfully collaborate with Indigenous people to combine Indigenous and Western science to better understand and manage Australia’s diverse ecosystems. Integral to her approach is the development of empowering, sustainable, place-based, multidisciplinary and collaborative solutions to maintain Australia’s biocultural diversity (biological and cultural diversity).
Dr Ens has developed her unique style of Cross-cultural Ecology since 2008 with her Indigenous colleagues, primarily in Arnhem Land and northern NSW. Her research spans topics including: biodiversity, freshwater wetlands, coastal floodplains, invasive species, climate change, fire, culture and language maintenance, Australian histories and intergenerational knowledge sharing.
Reflecting her commitment to socio-ecological transformation and sustainable development, Dr Ens is co-leader of Australia’s first Bush University, the Wuyagiba Study Hub, with Elders of south east Arnhem Land and colleagues at Macquarie University, since 2018.
Dr Ens currently leads three prestigious Australian Research Council (ARC) Grants:
- ARCDP18 “How did those trees get there? Rediscovering Aboriginal dispersal pathways” with Dr Maurizio Rossetto (Sydney Botanic Gardens), Dr Philip Clarke (SA Museum), Gerry Turpin (Mbabaram, Tropical Indigenous Ethnobotany Centre/JCU), Oliver Costello (Bandjalang, NSW DPIE/Bush Heritage) and PhD students Patrick Cooke (Gangalidda) and Monica Fahey. This project combines multidisciplinary research (Ecology, Ethnography, History, Genetics, Spatial Science) to explore pre-historic dispersal of large-seeded rainforest tree propagules by Indigenous groups of the Australian east coast.
- ARCLP20 “Can coastal floodplains of north Australia survive ferals and rising seas?” with the Yirralka Rangers and Prof Damian Gore, Dr Tim Ralph, Prof Andrew Skidmore and Prof Neil Saintilan of Macquarie University, with PhD student Daniel Sloane and Reseach Associate Mr Nick Crameri. This project combines multidisciplinary research (Ecology, Soil science, Hydrogeomorphology, Spatial Science and Remote Sensing) to better understand the effects of sea level rise and feral buffalo and pig on coastal floodplain vegetation and soils of the Laynhapuy Indigenous Protected Area, north east Arnhem Land.
- ARCLP21 “Warrakan Djama: Developing a new biocultural approach to fauna conservation” with the Yirralka Rangers, The Nature Conservancy (Dr Luke Preece), Assoc. Prof Frances Morphy (ANU), Prof Sam Banks (CDU), Prof Craig Moritz (ANU), Dr Shaina Russell (MQ) and PhD student Bridget Campbell. This project will combine Yolngu and Western science to enhance the biocultural knowledge of fauna in the Laynhapuy Indigenous Protected Area and a develop unique biocultural fauna management strategy that aims to strengthen species and cultures of north east Arnhem Land.
Dr Ens held an ARC DECRA (2013-2016) which supported her seminal research on developing two-way models of ecology in Arnhem Land with a focus on wetlands and invasive species. Prior to this she was a Post Doc in the People on Country group at the Centre for Aboriginal Economic Policy Research (ANU) with Prof Jon Altman and Dr Sean Kerins, and in the Dept of Environmental Sciences at Charles Darwin University with Prof Sam Setterfield, Prof Lindsay Hutley and Prof Michael Douglas. She completed her PhD in Invasion Biology at the University of Wollonging with Prof Kristine French, and received 1st class Honours in Geography and Ecology at UNSW with Assoc Prof Scott Mooney.