This site explains a little of the research I’m involved in, which is broadly defined as environmental social research. In other words, I study the people part of environmental issues. I am currently a Research Fellow at the Institute for Future Environments at the Queensland University of Technology in Brisbane, Australia, and a Visiting Fellow at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Cornell University (following a position as a Rose Postdoctoral Research Associate), in Ithaca, New York, U.S.A.

The main focus of much of my work these days is environmentally-friendly behaviours. I use theories of human behaviour and communication to understand why people do the things they do, and how we might encourage them to change particular behaviours to improve environmental and social outcomes.

If you’re looking for my publications, click here or on the button at the top of the page.

Research background

Beginning on Australia’s Great Barrier Reef in the mid-1990s, I have been fortunate enough to work in a range of environments in Australia, New Zealand, North America, and Latin America. Some of the topics I’ve worked on include pro-environmental behaviour change, environmental science communication, environmental values, citizen science, marine debris, climate change, energy efficiency & waste reduction, protected area management, tourism impacts on coral reefs and geothermal vegetation, and community impacts of wastewater treatment plants and aquaculture development.

Current research interests include:

  • Behaviour change and pro-environmental behaviours
  • Environmental communication
  • Environmental values
  • Social research in science communication and public engagement in science
  • Social research on environmental impact and management issues
  • Quantitative and qualitative social research


Organisations I have worked with:

  • Healthy Land & Water, Australia
  • Institute for Future Environments, Queensland University of Technology, Australia
  • Centre for Marine Socioecology, University of Tasmania, Australia
  • Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Cornell University, Ithaca, U.S.A.
  • Facultad Ciencias del Mar, Universidad Catolica del Norte, Chile
  • Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, Washington D.C., USA
  • North Carolina State University, Raleigh NC, U.S.A.
  • Southern Cross University, Australia
  • Queensland Fisheries, Australia
  • Landcare Research/Manaaki Whenua, New Zealand
  • National Institute for Water & Atmospheric Research (NIWA), New Zealand
  • Lincoln University, New Zealand
  • Taylor Baines & Associates, New Zealand
  • Canterbury University, New Zealand
  • Hiking New Zealand
  • Environment & Behaviour Consultants, Australia
  • CRC Reef Research Centre, Australia
  • James Cook University, Australia
  • Implementation Group, Washington D.C., U.S.A.

Current projects and collaborations

Here is a brief summary of the projects I am currently working on (updated June 2020)

  1. Community values of waterways (QUT, with Dr Angela Dean)
  2. Social impacts of marine debris in coupled human-marine systems (QUT, with Dr Angela Dean)
  3. Promoting environmental stewardship: Identifying pathways to greater participation (QUT, with Dr Angela Dean)
  4. Selecting indicators of success for behaviour change programs (QUT, with Drs Erik Simmons, Blake Simmons, Angela Dean, and Professor Kerrie Wilson)
  5. Helping environmental social scientists pivot to online data collection in moments of social disruption (with Dr Chloe Wardropper and Madeline Goebel from University of Idaho, and Dr Ashley Dayer, Virginia Tech, U.S.A.)
  6. Increasing participation of young adults in citizen science (Cornell Lab of Ornithology and Prof. Drew Margolin, Cornell University)
  7. Quantifying bird feeding practices and motivations in the U.S.A (Cornell Lab of Ornithology and Dr. Ashley Dayer, Virginia Tech)
  8. Understanding how people assess the reliability and trustworthiness of the data source when we communicate about species range shifts (Prof. Jonathon Schuldt, Prof. Drew Margolin, Prof. Bruce Lewenstein, and Prof. Rich Stedman, (Cornell University) and Dr. Emma Greig and Dr. David Bonter, (Cornell Lab of Ornithology))
  9. Understanding how perceived competence in bird identification influences people’s participation in citizen science (Cornell Lab of Ornithology)
  10. Impacts of non-native birds on cavity nesting species and how people attempt to manage for conservation (Cornell Lab of Ornithology)
  11. Situational factors related to participant retention in a continental-scale citizen science project (Cornell Lab of Ornithology)
  12. Diversity of divers, diving specialization level and participation rate in marine citizen science (M. Hermoso (PhD candidate, Prof. Martin Thiel et al., Universidad Catolica del Norte, Chile)
  13. Understanding marine litter perceptions, norms and behaviors in 11 Latin American countries (D. De Veer (PhD candidate), Prof. Martin Thiel et al., Universidad Catolica del Norte, Chile)


My undergraduate and honours studies were completed at James Cook University in Townsville, Australia, and my PhD is from Southern Cross University in Lismore, Australia.

The marine environment was the focus of my research in both my Honours and PhD theses:

Martin, V.Y. (2016). Science engagement from the audiences’ perspective: can participatory marine science communication increase public engagement in science? PhD thesis, Southern Cross University, Lismore, NSW.

Johnson, V.Y. (1995). Reef Walking on the Great Barrier Reef: A Study of Visitor Experiences. Honours thesis, James Cook University, Townsville, QLD.

Funding and grants

My research and other work has received additional funding from the Centre for a Waste-free World (QUT), Selby and Hancock Endowments, Centre for Marine Socioecology (University of Tasmania), Cornell Lab of Ornithology (Cornell University, U.S.A.), North Carolina State University, American Ornithological Society, Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, Southern Cross University, Australian Citizen Science Association, Institute of Marine and Antarctic Studies (University of Tasmania), Royal Society of New Zealand, Brian Mason Scientific and Technical Trust, James Cook University, and the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority.

Media (Lead PI/author research only)

  • †Over 50 news items in Australian and New Zealand newspapers
  • 13 local & national radio interviews, incl. ABC’s Science Show with Robyn Williams (twice; 2016/2019; see links below)
  • †1 television news piece
  • †3 podcasts (for BioScience Talks, Science Communication, and Cornell University) and an interview for the YouTube channel (Track My Fish)
  • †Several special interest magazines (e.g. sailing and dive publications) and newsletters

Here is an interview I did in March 2019 with Robyn Williams for Australia’s ABC Science Show, where we discuss some of the research I’m doing at the Lab. Robyn and I also discussed my PhD research on marine citizen science back in December 2016, again for the ABC Science Show.

Committees (since 2014)

North American Bird Conservation Initiative Human Dimensions Subcommittee
Social Science Taskforce Committee, Cornell Lab of Ornithology
Postdoctoral Advisory Committee, Cornell University
Postdoctoral Research Associate Selection Committee, Cornell Lab of Ornithology
2016 – 2017
National projects advisory group, Australian Citizen Science Association
2015 – 2017
Great Barrier Reef Citizen Science Alliance Steering Committee
2014 – 2015
Communications Working Group, Australian Citizen Science Association

Please contact me if you would like a copy of my full CV.