I am a biological anthropologist and archaeologist and have a strong interest in human evolution in Australia and South East Asia and zooarchaeology in Australia. Specifically these research interests fall within the fields of palaeoanthropology (the study of human evolution) and environmental archaeology.
I have undertaken excavations in Indonesia and Australia and have analysed the key fossils relevant to human origins in our region.
My other main field research program is on human impacts in ancient environments and I have an active excavation and field program in the Willandra Lakes World Heritage Area of Australia looking into how the megafauna became extinct.
I have also worked for state (QM) and national museums (NMA) in both a curatorial role and as a biological anthropologist/manager in the repatriation of human remains program.
My research on human skeletal remains has also included research for the Coroner in Victoria and Queensland. I teach forensic archaeology to students at UQ.
I am very active in promoting the value of Australia's archaeological record for telling a deeper story of Australia's past. In 2001 I started National Archaeology Week which each year delivers events across the country promoting our rich archaeological heritage.
I believe archaeology can play an important role in reconciliation as it holds great potential to help to deconstruct stereotypes about different cultures. It can also be used to address past human rights abuses. But archaeology can also disempower people, so it is a difficult field at times to navigate through.
I find it very encouraging to see that at long last Australia's 'ancient history' (the last 50,000 years) has now a place in the National History curriculum.
I also have an interest in the use of the past by different groups to support different agendas. I am particularly interested in the history of 'race', a social construct that really has no meaning in biology today, however, it still plays a key role in dividing society.
I have also been involved in the field of conflict archaeology, including research into the Aboriginal Wars of Colonial Australia and more recently the two world wars.
My current research into Aboriginal origins is funded by the Australian Research Council.