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Associate Professor Nanjappa Ashwath

PhD Ecophysiology-ANU Canberra, MSc (Agri) & BSc (Agri)-UAS Bangalore, MAIAST, MEIANZ
Associate Professor
School of Health, Medical and Applied Sciences
Centre for Intelligent Systems
(07) 4930 9595
+617 49309595 Alternative Phone
Rockhampton North
CQIRP, Ibis Avenue - Bldg 361/ Room 1.16
QLD 4701, Australia
About Me

Associate Professor Nanjappa Ashwath has been researching Australian plants for over 40 years and is an acknowledged expert in Central Queensland botany. He has screened 100’s of native species for stress tolerance, biodiesel production and other uses. Additionally, he has demonstrated the benefits of an innovative technology called ‘phytocapping’ for landfill remediation. At present, he is exploring native species that have the potential to produce biofuel (bioethanol - agave and biodiesel - beauty leaf tree) from marginal lands. He has also helped establish a pyrolysis facility at CQUniversity to convert urban, industrial and agricultural wastes into biofuel.

Associate Professor Ashwath teaches into both undergraduate and postgraduate courses. In the last 25 years, he has taught into almost all the 'plant science' courses that CQU has offered. Currently he teaches into "Australian Botany" and "Mining, Industrial and Urban Lands Rehabilitation".  Nanjappa is popular amongst post graduate students and has supervised more than 30 PhD and Masters’ students.

His passion for research, particularly on native plants, has enabled him to win the highly prestigious "Vice Chancellor’s Researcher of the Year" award in 2001. He has attracted considerable research funds from ARC, CRC, NHT, RIRDC, EPA, mining companies and federal/state governments. He has published over 250 research articles in journals, books and as technical reports. He has an h-index of 29 with 3631 citations. Dr Ashwath collaborates with researchers at Texas A&M University, and is also an adjunct professor at Amrita University, India. As a Central Queensland  expert on Australian plants, he routinely engages in community services via plant identification, plant propagation and conservation activities. His contributions to science were recognised by the Rotary Club via the award of 'Rotary International University Fellowship' which helped him promote Australian plants in India.


He grew up in a farming community in south India. He found it curious in planting a seed and seeing it grow and produce fruits. His passion for plants made him quit civil engineering study and join an agricultural university. After arriving in Australia, he fell in love with native plants and he has never drifted away from researching into these plants. He finds Australian plants as the living Gods to save this planet from degradation. This is because Australian plants can grow in any soil, no matter how bad it is, as they have adapted to growing in such environments for millions of years. His research focuses on conservation, resource assessment and selection of suitable species for fodder, fuel, conservation and land rehabilitation. Currently he is exploring the use of thermochemical methods of convert biomass accumulated from plants grown on degraded sites to generate biodiesel, bio-oil and biochar.

Universities Studied At

Australian National University, Canberra, Australia

University of Agricultural Sciences, Bengaluru, India

Sri Sathya Sai Arts & Science College, Brindavan, Bengaluru, India

Universities Worked At

Australian National University, Canberra, ACT

CSIRO, Canberra and Brisbane, Queensland

Environmental Protection Agency (federal), Jabiru, Northern Territory

Central Queensland University, Rockhampton, Queensland


Vice Chancellor’s Researcher of the Year (2001) award - CQUniversity

Rotary Foundation University Teaching Fellowship

ANU Post Graduate Research Fellowship

Gold Medal in MSc (Agri) - University of Agricultural Sciences, Bengaluru

8th rank in B.Sc (Agri) - University of Agricultural Sciences, Bengaluru

First Class - Pre-University Course

First class - Higher Secondary School

Media Citations

CQU Uninews

Rockhampton Morning Bulletin


ABC Radio

Win TV

Professional Experience

Member - CQU Academic Board

Member - CQU Post Graduate Advisory Committee

Member - Management committee of the Centre for Intelligent Systems

Chair - Research Committee of the School of Medical & Applied Sciences (2010-2012)

Associate Director - Natural Resources (Faculty of Science, Engineering & Health)

Professional Memberships

Australian Institute of Agricultural Science & Technology (AIAST)

Environmental Institute of Australia & New Zealand (EIANZ)

Society for Ecological Restoration (SER)

American Society for Surface Mining & Reclamation (ASSMR)

Australian Society of Plant Scientists (ASPS)

Society for Conservation Biology (SCB)

Society for Growing Australian Plants (SGAP)

Native Plants Queensland

Native Plants Capricornia

Central Queensland Mine Rehabilitation Group


Associate Professor 

School of Medical & Applied Sciences (SMAS) and Centre for Plant & Water Sciences (CPWS) 

Board Member



CQUni Academic Board

School Research Committee (2010-2012) 

Terrestrial Botany





Land Management & Rehabilitation

Landscape Ecology & Management

Waste Minimisation and Cleaner Production

Environmental Management Research Projects A&B 


Divisional Research Committee (FRC)


Centre for Plant & Water Science Planning and Development Committee (P&DC) 


CQU's Research Higher Degrees Committee (RHDC) 




CQU expert

CQU's Research Committee of the Academic Board (ReCAB)

CQUni's Multifaith Reference Group

CQUni's Sustainable Committee

Australian Plants/ Phytoremediation/ Biofuels/ Phytocapping/ Revegetation/ Restoration

CQU expert

Native Plant Identification and Propagation

Professional Interests

Australian native plant identification and propagation

Conservation of rare and threatened plant species

Revegetation of degraded lands - mine spoils, heavy metal contaminated sites, mangroves, landfills

'Match making': finding suitable plant species for a given habitat (mine site, degraded land, salt or drought affected land)

Supervising post graduate research students

Interacting with scientists and entrepreneurs

Collaboration with innovative scientists

Helping conserve the habitats

Creating awareness in smart use of resources


Key Achievements

ARC Linkage grant on Landfill Phytocapping

ARC Linkage grant on Phytoremediation of arsenic contaminated soils

NHT grant for developing Native Plant Seedbank for Central Queensland

ARC LEIF grants- Growth cabinets (CQU) and ICP-MassSpec-HPLC (UniQld) 

Establishment of revegetation strategies for coal mine sites

Development of an innovative method of remediating landfills (Phytocapping)

Establishment of field demonstration trials of phytocapping in Brisbane, Noosa, Rockhampton, Townsville, Sydney, Melbourne, Adelaide and Perth

Completion of PhD and Masters degrees by students (30)

Successful completion of research projects (>50)

Development of undergraduate and post graduate courses (6)

Publication of books, research papers and technical reports (250)

Attraction of research funds- both NCG and industry (>6 million)

Liaison with various industry partners and government organisations (city councils, mining companies, govt depts, Universities, CSIRO, research development corporations and other funding agencies)

Conservation of rare and threatened plant species of Central Queensland- Alectryon ramiflorus, Samadera bidwillii, Stackhousia tryonii

Restoration of disturbed mangrove habitats - Koorana Crocodile Farm, Gladstone Port Authority

Development of revegetation practices for uranium mines in Kakadu and Nabarlek

Stabilisation of railway embankments using green technology

Phytoremediation of arsenic contaminated sites at Stanwell Power Station

Smart Irrigation System for parklands of Cairns Regional Council

Phytoremediation of heavy metal contaminated lakes in Gympie

Patent on smart irrigation

Patent on biodiesel conversion

Computer Software

Fesuk S, Shaw R and Ashwath N (2003). Grasses of Northern Territory – A Lucid key for identification of selected grasses of NT. Primary Industries Research Centre, Central Queensland University, Rockhampton, Australia.

Ashwath N and Fesuk S (2004). Electronic students key for identification of native plants of Central Queensland. Primary Industries Research Centre, Central Queensland University, Rockhampton, Australia.

Industry Reports

Greenwaste report to Rockhampton City Council

Phytoremediation report to Gympie Regional Council

Phytocapping report to Waste Management Association of Australia

Revegetation report to Angloamerican Coal

Vegetation survey report to Lagoon Hill Nickel

Tissue Culture report to pineapple farmers

In vitro culture report to wasabi grower

Mangrove restoration report to Gladstone Port Corporation

Uranium mine restoration report to Ranger Mine

Effluent irrigation report to Livingstone Shire Council

Rail embankment stabilisation report to Queensland Rail

Arsenic contaminated site remediation report to Stanwell Power Station

Landfill leachate testing report to Brisbane City Council

Landfill phytocapping report to Noosa Shire council

ARC phytocapping report to Townsville City Council

Smart Irrigation report to Cairns Regional Council


Editorial board Annals of Ecology and Environmental Science (

Editorial board Agriculture and Natural Resources

Editorial Board Journal of Environmental Protection


Editorial board Journal of Environment & Biotechnology

Guest Editor Biomedical Research International “special edition”

Guest Editor International Journal of Environmental Technology
and Management, Special edition; Inderscience Publishers

Guest Editor Special Volume “Toxicity of Environmental Contaminants”
of Biomedical Research International,
Volume 2015, Article number 702439 (

Editor of the journal Energies special edition “Current Trends in Biomass Pyrolysis for Biofuel Production”

Editor of the book “Mining Technology" by Intech Open Limited, London

Consultancy Work


Plant Propagation

Plant Tissue Culture

Biodiesel Testing

Soil Testing

Minesite Rehabilitation

Vegetation Survey

Environmental Impact Assessment

Seed testing

Microbiological assessment

Waste management

Contaminated site remediation: phytoremediation, phytocapping

Smart irrigation

Sustainable waste management

Waste to energy conversion

Organising Training sessions on the above topics

Flora survey

Revegetation of difficult sites

Selection of suitable plant species and cultivation practices for landscaping

Recent Research Projects
Lake Alford Water/Soil Quality Improvement Tier 1
From: 15/06/2020 to 28/02/2021
Grant: Government Tender (Category 2: Other Public Sector)
Funding Scheme: Gympie Regional Council
Total Funding: $71,754.57
Smart Sensor Systems for Parks Water Management in Cairns Regional Council area
From: 18/03/2019 to 17/12/2020
Grant: Contract Research (Category 2: Other Public Sector)
Funding Scheme: Cairns Regional Council
Total Funding: $168,083.64
Conservation of Quassia bidwillii at Callide Mine, Central Queensland
From: 01/06/2010 to 12/10/2016
Grant: Scholarship (Not Specified )
Funding Scheme: Anglo American Contract Research
Total Funding: $186,775.00
Research Supervision

I am currently accredited for supervision in the following:

  • 4011 Environmental Engineering
  • 4102 Ecological Applications
  • 4103 Environmental Biotechnology

At the level of Principal Supervisor

Current Capacity
I am currently available to supervise more research candidates
Current Supervision
Doctor of Philosophy
Physiology of stress tolerance in Calophyllum inophyllum L.
Principal Supervisor
Doctor of Philosophy
Salt Tolerance of Beauty Leaf Tree (Calophyllum inophyllum): Investigation of cellular and subcellular response to salinity using metabolomic analysis and synchotron imaging technique.
Principal Supervisor
Doctor of Philosophy
Use of Artificial Neural Network to Select Feedstocks for Biofuel Production
Principal Supervisor
Doctor of Philosophy
Reproductive ecology and management of the exotic pasture species, Guinea Grass (Megathyrsus maximus), and valuable native pasture grasses (Themeda triandra, Heteropogon contortus, Heteropogon triticeus)
Principal Supervisor
Doctor of Philosophy
Experimental design and simulation of diesel engine performance parameters using grape marc based biofuel: combustion, emissions, and spray characteristics
Associate Supervisor
Master of Informatics
Deep learning based Smart Water management model in Cairns park
Associate Supervisor
Master of Applied Science
Facilitation as a fire management process and Calcium & Magnesium levels as determinants of Endemism in the Canoona Serpentine environment.
Associate Supervisor
Doctor of Philosophy
How can social resilience and ecological stewardship foster uptake of urban agriculture in building cohesive communities in regional Queensland.
Associate Supervisor
Doctor of Philosophy
Seed banks: How best to preserve the seeds for conservation 
Principal Supervisor
Complete Supervision
Doctor of Philosophy
International Diversification of Australian Portfolios into Emerging Markets: Using the Copula Approach
Associate Supervisor
Master of Engineering
Energy Recovery from municipal green waste (MGW) using Pyrolysis Process
Associate Supervisor
Master of Business
Assessing the viability of growing agave tequilana for biofuel production in Australia.
Associate Supervisor
Doctor of Philosophy
Conservation Ecology, Genetics and Propagation of the Threatened Species Samadera bidwillii (Hook.f.) Oliv.
Principal Supervisor
Doctor of Philosophy
Associate Supervisor
Master of Applied Science
Stevia research - agronomy and plant physiology
Associate Supervisor
Master of Applied Science
Selection of tomato genotypes that hyperaccumulate cadmium, for use in phytoremediation of cadmium contaminated sites
Principal Supervisor
Doctor of Philosophy
Revegetation techniques for native plant establishment on disturbed sites in Queensland, Australia
Principal Supervisor
Doctor of Philosophy
Potential of Beauty Leaf Tree (Calophyllum inophyllum L) as a Biodiesel Feedstock in Australia.
Principal Supervisor
Doctor of Philosophy
"Phytocapping of Municipal Landfills: The Role of 21 Tree Species and Two Soil Depths in Determining Site Water Balance".
Principal Supervisor
Doctor of Philosophy
Organic amendments for crop production.
Associate Supervisor
Research Interests
Agricultural And Veterinary Sciences

Forestry Sciences - Tree Nutrition and Physiology

Biological Sciences

Plant Biology - Plant Physiology

Chemical Science

Inorganic Chemistry - Bioinorganic Chemistry


Resources Engineering and Extractive Metallurgy - Resources Engineering and Extractive Metallurgy not elsewhere classified

Environmental Sciences

Environmental Science and Management - Environmental Rehabilitation (excl. Bioremediation)
Expertise • Selection of native plants for biofuel production • Bioethanol production from Agave species • Phytoremediation of heavy metal contaminated sites • Phytocapping of municipal landfills • Mine site rehabilitation • Biodiversity conservation • Biochar effects on plant production and soil health • Plant tissue culture and genetic studies • Productive use of waste lands • Solid waste management • Waste to bioenergy conversion • Supervision of research students Major Projects • Phytocapping of landfill sites- National collaborative project (ARC linkage with 5 other universities, CSIRO and the WMAA) • Biodiesel production from beauty leaf tree (RIRDC) • Phytoremediation of arsenic contaminated soils using Chinese Brake Fern (ARC) • Native plant seedbank for Central Queensland (NHT) • Revegetation of coal mine sites (Anglocoal) • Conservation of Samadera bidwillii (Callide mine) • Revegetation of high voltage power line corridors (Powerlink)

Medical And Health Sciences

Public Health and Health Services - Preventive Medicine


Environmental Biotechnology - Bioremediation

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