Maximilian McQuillan

Maximilian McQuillan

Higher Degree by Research Candidate

School of Architecture and Civil Engineering

Faculty of Sciences, Engineering and Technology


Max's research interests lie at the intersection of landscape architecture and landscape science, where he aims to integrate ecological restoration with the design of urban landscapes. He completed his Advanced Bachelor of Science at Adelaide University, majoring in Ecology and Environmental Science, and went on to pursue an Honours degree focused on plant-soil interactions in native Australian systems. His research investigated how native plants store phosphorus in their leaves, and its implications for nutrient cycling, global change, and ecosystem function. This research led to a publication in the prestigious journal, Plant and Soil.

After gaining practical experience as an environmental scientist in contaminated land consulting in Adelaide and Melbourne, Max pursued his long-standing ambition to study Landscape Architecture during the Covid-19 lockdown. He obtained a Graduate Certificate in Landscape Design, furthering his interest in the interrelation of social, environmental, and design aspects.

Max is currently a PhD candidate in Landscape Architecture at Adelaide University, leveraging his scientific background and design interests to pursue a cross-disciplinary project. His research focuses on achieving biodiversity conservation in urban areas, which he believes can be achieved by incorporating ecological restoration tools with design. He secured a Green Adelaide grant to reconstruct a native grassland at Glenthorne National Park, located within metropolitan Adelaide.

Max's primary research question is: how to design urban landscapes that prioritize biodiversity conservation. To answer this question, he is using action research methods to document the design and implementation process of a native grassland reconstruction project. Through his work, he aims to develop strategies that incorporate restoration ecology principles and tools into urban landscape design, with the ultimate goal of promoting biodiversity conservation in urban areas.

To validate the effectiveness of his approach, Max has established a randomized controlled ecological experiment and is using genetic and remote sensing tools to track biotic and abiotic changes. This experiment will allow him to rigorously evaluate the success of his ecological restoration efforts, and to adjust his strategies as necessary. Overall, Max's research represents an innovative and interdisciplinary approach to the challenge of promoting biodiversity in the context of urban development.

  • Language Competencies

    Language Competency
    German Can read, write, speak and understand spoken
  • Education

    Date Institution name Country Title
    2020 - 2020 Deakin University Australia Graduate Certificate of Landscape Design
    2018 - 2019 University of Adelaide Australia Honours - Soil Science
    2015 - 2018 University of Adelaide Australia Bachelor of Science (Advanced)
  • Journals

    Year Citation
    2023 McQuillan, M., & Ryba, R. (2023). The evolving circle of landscape design. Restoration Ecology, 32(1), 6 pages.
    DOI
    2020 McQuillan, M., Smernik, R. J., & Doolette, A. L. (2020). Partitioning of phosphorus between biochemical and storage compounds in leaves follows a consistent pattern across four Australian genera growing in native settings. PLANT AND SOIL, 454(1-2), 57-75.
    DOI Scopus10 WoS10

Honours Scholarship – AW Howard Memorial Trust Inc.

Dr Jennifer Gardner Prize for Waite Arboretum Research

PhD Research Training Program (RTP) Scholarship

Green Adelaide Grassroots Grant for project titled: Glenthorne Community Grassland 

Laboratory demonstrator for undergraduate Soils classes (in 2019)


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