A NSW Government website

Melinda Coleman

Senior Principal Research Scientist

Melinda is a Senior Principal Research Scientist with Regional NSW, Department of Primary Industries, whose research is transforming management and protection of kelp forests.

Kelp forests support immense biodiversity, sequester carbon and underpin fisheries yet are declining globally, including in NSW. Through the development of innovative science-based restoration technologies, Melinda’s research is reversing loss of kelp forests and protecting the vast economic, social and ecological values derived from the NSW Marine Estate.

Importantly, Melinda’s research has real-world impact. In a global first, Melinda and her colleagues successfully restored lost underwater forests to the Sydney coast, winning a “green globe” award for environmental protection and saving NSW an estimated $1M per km of coastline restored per/year.

As part of a global research team, Melinda pioneered a new restoration technology (“green gravel”) which overcomes extant challenges in underwater restoration.

Critically, Melinda’s research is paving the way for proactive “future-proof” management that allows restoration to match natural adaptive responses of kelp to future climatic conditions, placing NSW at the forefront of environmental management.

Melinda has over 150 publications in top journals and has secured more than $12M in external funding including 14 ARC grants. Her position as a global leader in kelp forest conservation is highlighted through long-standing editorial positions with leading journals and regular keynotes and plenaries at major international conferences.

She mentors the next generation of scientists through supervision of 34 postgraduate students and 5 postdoctoral scientists.

Current projects

  • Lead, Climate Change Research Team, Fisheries Research, NSW DPI
  • Norwegian Council 2022 - Kelp forests in the Anthropocene: unravelling impacts of warming and marine heatwaves from genes to ecosystems
  • ARC Linkage 2022 – Resolving the role of kelp in blue carbon cycles to enable management
  • ARC Discovery 2020 – Marine heatwaves drive selection and adaptation in kelp forests
  • ARC Discovery 2024 - Maladaptation in changing oceans: identifying potential trade-offs of adapting to climate change.


Email: melinda.coleman@dpi.nsw.gov.au

Research branch: Fisheries

Location: Coffs Harbour