Robert Hill

Professor Robert Hill

Director - Environment Institute

Environment Institute

Division of Research and Innovation

Eligible to supervise Masters and PhD - email supervisor to discuss availability.


Professor Robert Hill is the Director of the Environment Institute.

He is a graduate of the University of Adelaide. He completed his Ph.D. on Tertiary plant macrofossils in 1981, and his D.Sc. on the interaction between climate change and the evolution of the living Australian vegetation in 1997. In 1979 he accepted a position as Tutor in Botany at James Cook University, and in 1980 he was offered a lecturing position in the Department of Botany at the University of Tasmania. He remained at the University of Tasmania until 1999, after being promoted to Professor in 1993. He was Head of the School of Plant Science for 6 years prior to his departure, and was awarded Professor Emeritus status by the University of Tasmania Council in 2000. In 1999 he returned to the University of Adelaide as an Australian Research Council (ARC) Senior Research Fellow, in 2001 he was appointed Head of Science at the South Australian Museum and in 2003 became Head of the School of Earth and Environmental Sciences. He was appointed to his current position of Executive Dean in September 2006.

During his career he has won many awards including the Clarke and Burbidge Medals for his research into the impact of long-term climate change on the evolution of Australian vegetation. He is currently Editor in Chief of the Australian Journal of Botany.

Professor Hill has had a profound impact on the study of Botany in Australia. He has been instrumental in raising the profile of modern botanical studies through his own research which is of the highest international standard, through the training of numerous honours and postgraduate students, many of whom now hold botanical research positions in their own right, and through his distinguished service to botanical societies, organisations and government agencies.
His botanical research has made significant contributions to the areas of palaeobotany, plant systematics, plant ecophysiology and the application of research from these areas to interpreting changes that have occurred to the Australian flora through evolutionary time.

He has had a lifetime interest in the evolution of the vegetation of Australia and Antarctica. He has published more than 125 refereed journal papers, 35 book chapters, several symposium papers and has edited or co-edited four books, including The History of the Australian Vegetation (Cambridge University Press), Ecology of the Southern Conifers (Melbourne University Press), The Ecology and Biogeography of Nothofagus Forests (Yale University Press), and Vegetation of Tasmania (Australian Biological Resources Study).

He is best known for his research on the fossil history of the southern beech, Nothofagus, and the southern conifers. His research on the fossil history of Nothofagus has been critical in refining our understanding of its evolution and has led to a major revision of our understanding of the biogeography of this critical southern genus.

Research Interests

Professor Hill has had a profound impact on the study of Botany in Australia. He has been instrumental in raising the profile of modern botanical studies through his own research which is of the highest international standard, through the training of numerous honours and postgraduate students, many of whom now hold botanical research positions in their own right, and through his distinguished service to botanical societies, organisations and government agencies.

His botanical research has made significant contributions to the areas of palaeobotany, plant systematics, plant ecophysiology and the application of research from these areas to interpreting changes that have occurred to the Australian flora through evolutionary time.

He has had a lifetime interest in the evolution of the vegetation of Australia and Antarctica. He has published more than 125 refereed journal papers, 35 book chapters, several symposium papers and has edited or co-edited four books, including The History of the Australian Vegetation (Cambridge University Press), Ecology of the Southern Conifers (Melbourne University Press), The Ecology and Biogeography of Nothofagus Forests (Yale University Press), and Vegetation of Tasmania (Australian Biological Resources Study).

He is best known for his research on the fossil history of the southern beech, Nothofagus, and the southern conifers. His research on the fossil history of Nothofagus has been critical in refining our understanding of its evolution and has led to a major revision of our understanding of the biogeography of this critical southern genus.

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  • Appointments

    Date Position Institution name
    2011 Director The University of Adelaide
    2007 - 2008 Chair The University of Adelaide
    2006 - 2017 Executive Dean The University of Adelaide
    2003 - 2006 Head of School The University of Adelaide
    2001 Director of Science SA Museum
    1999 - 2003 Professor & ARC Senior Research Fellow University of Adelaide
    1993 - 1999 Professor in Plant Science University of Tasmania
    1991 - 1992 Associate Professor in Plant Science University of Tasmania
    1991 - 1991 Reader in Plant Science University of Tasmania
    1988 - 1990 Senior Lecturer in Plant Science University of Tasmania
    1980 - 1987 Lecturer in Botany University of Tasmania
  • Awards and Achievements

    Date Type Title Institution Name Country Amount
    2003 Achievement Research Associate of the Royal Zoological Society SA Australia
    2002 Recognition Nancy Burbridge Medal Systematic Botany Society
    1975 Achievement The Ernest Ayers Scholarship in Botany
    1975 Award JG Wood Memorial Prize for Botany
    1974 Award Elsie Marion Cornish Prize for Botany
  • Language Competencies

    Language Competency
    English Can read, write, speak, understand spoken and peer review
  • Education

    Date Institution name Country Title
    1997 University of Adelaide Australia D.Sc
    1981 University of Adelaide Australia PhD
    1977 University of Adelaide Australia First Class Honours
    1976 University of Adelaide Australia B.Sc.
  • Research Interests

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  • Current Higher Degree by Research Supervision (University of Adelaide)

    Date Role Research Topic Program Degree Type Student Load Student Name
    2019 Principal Supervisor Drought Adaptation in the Leaves of Selected Australian Proteaceae Species Doctor of Philosophy Doctorate Full Time George Batzios
    2018 Principal Supervisor Systematics and evolution of conifers Doctor of Philosophy Doctorate Full Time Mr Raees Khan
    2016 Principal Supervisor New insights into the evolutionary history of Nothofagus (Nothofagaceae) from molecular systematics and palynotaxonomy Doctor of Philosophy Doctorate Full Time Mrs Yelarney Kim Beer
    2012 Other Doctor of Science Doctor of Science Higher Doctorate Full Time Dr Andrew Mark Carleton
  • Past Higher Degree by Research Supervision (University of Adelaide)

    Date Role Research Topic Program Degree Type Student Load Student Name
    2018 - 2018 Other The Lives of Animals and Animals in Our Lives Doctor of Science Higher Doctorate Full Time Prof Christopher Daniels
    2014 - 2018 Principal Supervisor Contributions to the Cenozoic Macrofossil Record of the Myrtaceae in South Eastern Australia Doctor of Philosophy Doctorate Full Time Myall Alexander Tarran
    2011 - 2015 Co-Supervisor Adaptation and acclimation of leaf traits to environmental change in time and space Doctor of Philosophy Doctorate Full Time Dr Kathryn Edwina Hill
    2007 - 2008 Other Cenozoic Foraminifera in the Indo-Pacific Region: Stratigraphy, Oceanic and Environmental Change, and Faunal Impact Doctor of Science Higher Doctorate Full Time APrf Brian McGowran
    2007 - 2012 Co-Supervisor Quaternary Climate Change and Podocarpus elatus Podocarpaceae Doctor of Philosophy Doctorate Full Time Mr Rohan Mellick
    2004 - 2009 Co-Supervisor Molecular Systematics of the Lomandra Labill. Complex (Asparagales: Laxmanniaceae) Doctor of Philosophy Doctorate Part Time Mr Matthew Donnon
    2002 - 2008 Principal Supervisor Systematics and Biology of Hemigenia R.Br.and Microcorys R.Br. (Lamiaceae) Doctor of Philosophy Doctorate Part Time Mr Greg Guerin
    2002 - 2006 Principal Supervisor A Prototype Interactive Identification Tool to Fragmentary Wood from Eastern Central Australia, and its Application to Aboriginal Australian Ethnographic Artefacts Doctor of Philosophy Doctorate Full Time Ms Jennifer Barker
    2002 - 2005 Co-Supervisor An Investigation of the Functions of Leaf Surface Modifications in the Protaeceae and Araucariaceae Doctor of Philosophy Doctorate Full Time Mr Mansour Afshar Mohammadian
    2002 - 2007 Co-Supervisor A Reassessment of Taxonomic Diversity and Geographic Patterning in the Melanesian Mammal Fauna Doctor of Philosophy Doctorate Full Time Mr Kristofer Helgen
    2002 - 2007 Principal Supervisor Cenozoic Cupressaceae Macrofossils from Southeastern Australia Comparisons with Extant Genera/Species Doctor of Philosophy Doctorate Part Time Dr Rosemary Paull
  • Position: Director - Environment Institute
  • Phone: 83136807
  • Email: bob.hill@adelaide.edu.au
  • Campus: North Terrace
  • Building: Benham Laboratories, floor G
  • Room: G 05
  • Org Unit: Environment Institute

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