Cath is a quantitative community ecologist, scientific communicator and teacher, with a research focus on river ecosystems. Her work seeks to understand ecological responses to natural and human-induced changes in the environment by incorporating population- to ecosystem- level science with state-of-the-art, data-driven analytical approaches, and to find innovative solutions to real world environmental problems. Cath is a Chief Invesitgator on the ARC Linkage Project 'Revolutionising water quality monitoring in the information age', working with ACEMS, industry and international colleagues to improve river monitoring and data-driven modelling for enhanced environmental and biodiversity outcomes. Her expertise is sought widely across state, national and international levels, spanning government, professional, industry and community organisations. Cath was a key participant in the international Intermittent River Biodiversity Synthesis and Analysis project, the ACIAR Improving the Sustainability of Rice-shrimp Farming Systems in the Mekong Delta, Vietnam project, and the Australian National Water Commission Low Flows project, and the AusAID River Health and Environmental Flows in China project. She is highly productive and an excellent communicator, having produced over 80 research outputs, including 40+ journal articles, 7 invited book chapters, online databases, and multiple conference proceedings and technical reports. She enjoys convening special sessions and workshops and delivering plenary and keynote presentations at national and international conferences and at public outreach events. Cath served as Guest Editor for the 2016 special issue of the journal Freshwater Biology on intermittent river ecology and management, and serves on this journal's Editorial Board. She is a Wentworth Group of Concerned Scientists scholar and the National Secretary and past Queensland State Representative for Australia's peak professional body for freshwater scientists and managers, the Australian Freshwater Sciences Society. Cath is the proud recipient of the 2017 AFSS Early Career Excellence Award.
Water-quality sensors are exposed to changing environments and extreme weather conditions and thus are prone to errors, including failure. These technical errors make data unreliable and untrustworthy and affect performance of any subsequent data analysis. ACEMS researchers, led by Priyanga Dilini Talagala, have proposed a feature based procedure, named oddwater, for detecting technical outliers in water-quality data derived from in situ sensors.
ACEMS researcher Dr Catherine Leigh and colleagues have found that learning about the environment positively influences attitudes towards the environment, and in important ways. Their findings were published in People and Nature.
Monnet, A-C., Leigh C., Ballesteros-Mejia L., Dauby G., MacDonald A., Peron C., et al.
(2018). Synthesis and collaborative science in ecology. SFECOLOGIE 2018 - International Conference on Ecological Sciences.
Capon, S. J., Leigh C., Hadwen W., George A., McMahon J., Linke S., et al.
(2018). Transforming environmental water management for a changing climate. Frontiers in Environmental Science. 6, doi: 10.3389/fenvs.2018.00080