• The University of Western Australia (M019), 35 Stirling Highway,

    6009 Perth


Calculated based on number of publications stored in Pure and citations from Scopus
If you made any changes in Pure these will be visible here soon.

Personal profile


Carolyn Oldham is Professor at the University of Western Australia in the School of Civil, Environmental and Mining Engineering. She earned a BSc with Honours in Chemistry and a PhD in Environmental Engineering for an investigation into the effects of turbulence on oxygen patchiness in a lake. Since 1994, Carolyn has worked to integrate her cross-disciplinary research interests in transport processes, environmental chemistry and spatial and temporal patchiness. This focus on cross-disciplinary integration, i.e. trans-disciplinary research, has led Carolyn to collaborate with hydrologists, oceanographers, estuarine and groundwater scientists.

Carolyn has led a diverse range of research projects on arsenic contamination of wetlands, rivers and ground waters, fate and transport of decomposing seagrass wrack in coastal waters, groundwater nitrogen plumes into coastal waters, prediction of contaminant dynamics after mine closure, and acidification dynamics in surface and ground waters. While the context of Carolyn’s research has been, and remains, extremely diverse, she has worked to integrate approaches and frameworks across multiple disciplines and has maintained her core interest in the interactions between transport and biogeochemical transformation processes, with a focus on patchiness and connectivity dynamics at system, local and micro scales.

Carolyn brings the same trans-disciplinary approach to her teaching and in 2010, received a national Australian Learning and Teaching Council Award for an “outstanding and sustained commitment to increasing the diversity of student learning experiences in engineering”. From 2003 – 2008, she served as Associate Dean (Teaching and Learning), and Dean in the Faculty of Engineering, Computing and Mathematics at UWA. She remains one of the few women promoted to Professor of Engineering in Australian research intensive universities, she is an active mentor for junior academic women, chairs the UWA Leadership Development for Women Planning Group and initiated an Australian study on optimizing the performance of women academics in engineering. She is currently Project Lead for UWA's SAGE Athena SWAN initative.

Carolyn has also led research projects in a number of developing countries, has sat on the Board of Engineers Without Borders Australia, and has worked in East Timor to build capacity in their Universities to train East Timorese engineers.

Carolyn and her husband Paul have raised two delighful young men, and she is a certified Iyengar yoga teacher.

Roles and responsibilities

Current - 2017

Project Leader, CRC Water Sensitive Cities: Groundwater - Surface Water Interactions.
Project Leader, Dept Transport: Water Quality in Jurien Bay Boat Harbour
UWA Lead, SAGE Athena SWAN initiative
Academic Promotion Committee
Board of the Graduate Research School
Chair, UWA Gender Equity Committee
Faculty of Engineering and Mathematical Science Equity and Diversity Committee
Chancellor's Boards of Discipline Panel

Funding overview

Career funding

$5.1m in industry funding
$4.8m in national competitive funding

Previous positions

1993-94 Postdoctoral Fellow, Masschusetts Institute of Technology
2005-2007 Associate Dean (Teaching and Learning) Faculty of Engineering, Computing and Mathematics
2007 Deputy Dean, Faculty of Engineering, Computing and Mathematics
2008 Interim Dean, Faculty of Engineering, Computing and Mathematics

Current projects

Oldham, Lavery, Hipsey and McMahon (2016-17) Dept Transport. The impact of marine wrack degradation on water quality in the Jurien Bay Boat Harbour.

Oldham (2012-2017) CRC Water Sensitive Cities. Hydrology and nutrient transport processes in urban environments.

Industrial relevance

Carolyn works at the interface between industry and UWA. The majority of the work done in her Contaminant Dynamics Research Group has had direct industry applications, whether on mine sites, along coastal infrastructure or in areas undergoing urban development. She has chaired a number of industry stakeholder groups that provide feedback to researchers on the usefulness of their work.

Teaching overview

Carolyn teaches Transdiplinary Design, a unit that brings together Masters students from 4 different Faculties (including Engineering) to work on real life projects in rural and urban areas.

Over the last 20 years, Carolyn has supervised over 100 Engineering Honours students, 12 PhD students and 3 Masters students.

Recently graduated PhDs

Randika Singhe (2016) A critical study of the wastescape in the western province of Sri Lanka: pathways towards alternative approaches.
Adam Lillicrap (2016) Assessing changing land uses and their impact on acidification of downstream waters.
Tanveer Adyel (2017) Treatment wetland metabolism in urban catchments with significant groundwater interactions.

Current supervision PhD and PhM students - 2017

Bronwyn Woodward (PhD) Convective circulation in the side arms of a sheltered lake.
Maria la Paz (PhD) Seasonal stratification, oxygen and macrophyte interactions in a shallow lake.
Benya Wang (PhD) Use of machine learning to explore sources of groundwater organic nitrogen in urban areas.
Sobia Ahmed (PhD) Bioavailability of groundwater organic nitrogen.
Ana Singh (PhM) Interactions betwee macrophytes and hydrology: impact on nutrient attenuation in an urban stream.
Carl Davies (PhD) Groundwater recharge coefficients at urban lot and precinct scales.
Gelareh Khakbaz (PhD) Interaction between hydrology and macrophyte assemblage in urban waterways.
Katia Defendi(PhD) Dwelling, natural resources, and human health: Searching for balance through urban metabolism.
Jeanette Jensen (PhD) Regulation of diffuse source pollution from agriculture
Claire Idris (PhM) Water treatment in developing countries.
Fraser Eynon (PhM) Sediment loads discharged from drains under urban development.
Kumar Kandappan (PhM) Trimetric assessment of infrastructure design and maintenance.
Josephine Neldner (PhD) Where to for water sensitivity? Landscape architecture’s role in determining Australia’s urban water futures.


The use of non-dimensional numbers to characterize the effectiveness of material transfer across ecosystems.
The impact of surface water – groundwater interactions on nutrient transformation pathways in urban catchments.
Origins and impact of acidic groundwater and acid sulfate soils.
Prediction of water quality in mine pit lakes: monitoring and modeling.
Interactions between waves and marine canopies and the impact on solute and particle fate within canopies.
Seagrass wrack fate and transport.
Engineers, communities and environment

Expertise related to UN Sustainable Development Goals

In 2015, UN member states agreed to 17 global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure prosperity for all. This person’s work contributes towards the following SDG(s):

  • SDG 3 - Good Health and Well-being
  • SDG 6 - Clean Water and Sanitation
  • SDG 7 - Affordable and Clean Energy
  • SDG 11 - Sustainable Cities and Communities
  • SDG 13 - Climate Action
  • SDG 14 - Life Below Water
  • SDG 15 - Life on Land

Research expertise keywords

  • Biogeochemistry
  • Acidic environments
  • Nutrient cycling in marine and freshwater systems
  • Sediment–water interactions
  • Mine closure
  • Contamination


Dive into the research topics where Carolyn Oldham is active. These topic labels come from the works of this person. Together they form a unique fingerprint.
  • 1 Similar Profiles

Collaborations and top research areas from the last five years

Recent external collaboration on country/territory level. Dive into details by clicking on the dots or