Abbas El-Zein is a writer and an academic. He runs the GeoEnvironmental Laboratory at the School of Civil Engineering of the University of Sydney and is working on issues of environmental decline, soil contamination and unsaturated soil hydrology. He has published widely on organic cycles in soil, groundwater quality, vulnerability to climate change, as well as environmental degradation in the developing world. His memoir, Leave to Remain, was published in 2010 and won a New South Wales Premier literary award. His latest book, The Secret Maker of the World, is a collection of short stories published by Queensland University Press.