Melanie Blanchette

Research Fellow
Edith Cowan University

Perth, WA

Contact me for

  • sitting on boards or committees
  • providing an expert opinion
  • outreach activities
  • opportunities to collaborate

Biography

I am a freshwater ecologist, specializing in the biology and function of river systems, particularly in mined environments. I apply my research to the assessment of mining impact and closure - such as how mine water discharge affects catchments. I take a 'whole system' approach to research, investigating food webs, hydrology, macroinvertebrates and prokaryotic DNA to assess the impacts of above-background levels of (for example) metals and salinity on freshwater ecosystems. I work in rivers, wetlands and mine pit lakes.

Since 2013 I have attracted Australian Category 1 grant projects from the Australian Coal Association Research Program (ACARP), which has allowed me to develop my DNA assessment program as well as a method of rehabilitation assessment that avoids the use of reference sites.

I very much enjoy working with industry - it is challenging and rewarding to use science to assist with applied problems, as well as meet people involved with mining operations all over the the world. Currently, my work is in the Hunter Valley, NSW, but I have worked in Western Australia, and have collaborations with colleagues in South Africa and the USA and have supervised a PhD student on a mine site in Ghana, West Africa.

My experience in mine water research resulted in nomination to the Australian Bioregional Assessment Program – an Australian national government body examining potential impacts of coal seam gas and coal mining developments on water resources. I was also selected to present my microbiome research at the 2016 Australian Academy of Science ‘Frontiers’ conference.

I am an Associate Editor of the international journal Mine Water and the Environment and I am currently lead guest editor of a special issue on pit lakes. My research has appeared in local and national media outlets  such as The Conversation, ABC news, and QantasLink in-flight magazine. In 2015 I co-won the Edith Cowan University Vice-Chancellor’s award for Engagement in Research, and in 2017 won the Edith Cowan University Vice-Chancellor’s award for Early Career Researcher of the Year.

I have a PhD in river ecology from James Cook University in Queensland, an MSc in aquatic toxicology also from JCU, and a Bachelor of Science in ecology and evolutionary biology from the University of New Hampshire, USA (magna cum laude).

I would be happy to discuss any of the opportunities outlined above and look forward to making new connections in this space.