Research Fellow

Contact Details

Phone: +61 (0)409 581 906
Fax: +61 (0)7 3274 9003
39 Kessels Road
Coopers Plains
QLD 4108
Email: c.gaus@uq.edu.au

Background and Research Themes

Caroline and her group’s research aims to predict contaminant formation and transport processes, and how these influence human and wildlife exposure. The ultimate goal is to inform anthropogenic contaminant management strategies that protect the environment and human health. Fundamental to this research is to gain process-orientated understanding on the interactions of contaminants with environmental and biological factors according to their physico-chemical properties. Research in her group is defined in the three core themes outlined below. These typically combine laboratory experimental and field-based approaches, and are underpinned by state-of-the-art analytical chemistry and modelling tools.

Sources, transformation and formation of environmental contaminants

Understanding the type, origin and quantity of pollutant sources and their release to the environment is fundamental for risk management of hazardous chemicals. Research under this theme includes the identification and apportioning of contaminant sources and formation/transformation processes, and quantifying their release to the environment. This involves the development and application of chemical fingerprinting, as well as mass balance or receptor models.

Environmental transport and fate processes.

The transport and fate of contaminants in the environment is specific to the chemicals’ properties, their release pathways as well as environmental factors, and governs the potential for wildlife and human exposure. Research under this theme includes a range of studies that typically combine laboratory experimental, field-based and modeling approaches to determine the transport and distribution processes of anthropogenic chemicals in the environment. 

Human and wildlife exposure and associated risks

Studies within this theme apply the information on contaminant sources and fate processes to evaluate population-scale impacts of contaminant exposure. It comprises a wide range of field-based assessments and tools, incorporating both qualitative and quantitative modelling approaches, as well as the development of new approaches to screen and quantify contaminant exposure.

Current Research Topics

Sources, transformation and formation of environmental contaminants

  • Assessing the contribution of pesticide impurities to environmental dioxin loads due to photolytic formation processes via precursors
  • Developing receptor and mass balance models to facilitate source identification and contribution of dioxins using chemical fingerprinting
  • Estimating the contribution of secondary contaminant source releases in topical agricultural regions

Environmental transport and fate processes

  • Predicting facilitated transport of superhydrophobic contaminants to groundwater in the presence of colloidal species (e.g. surfactants, DOM)
  • Evaluating the atmospheric transport and fate of current-use pesticides in tropical agricultural areas

Human and wildlife exposure and associated risks

  • Evaluating contaminant exposure and associated risks in nearshore marine wildlife populations
  • Developing passive sampling approaches to facilitate exposure assessment for persistent, bioaccumulative compounds in lipid rich biota
  • Developing strategies to evaluate chemical induced toxicity in wildlife populations


Selected Research Grants


Australian Research Council (ARC) Discovery Grant: “Unintentional surfactant facilitated solubilisation and transport of apparently immobile chemicals” (Gaus, C; Escher, B; Finkel M)


Australian Research Council (ARC) Linkage Infrastructure, Equipment and Facilities (LIEF) Grant: “Ultra High Performance Liquid Chromatography Ion Trap Mass Spectrometer to develop new capabilities in environmental and human toxicology” (Mueller, J; Gaus, C; Hall, W; Sly, P; Keller, J; Ayoko, G et al)


Smart Futures Fellowship: “Predicting chemical transport to groundwater at contaminated sites and within agricultural areas” (Gaus, C)


Australian Research Council (ARC) Discovery Grant: “Atmospheric fate and processes of semi-volatile organic compounds in tropical climates” (Gaus, C; Bartkow, M; Wania, F)


Australian Research Council (ARC) Discovery Grant: “Formation, degradation and migration of a yet unidentified POP source” (Gaus, C; Kuch, B; Weber, R)


Major Equipment & Infrastructure Grant (UQ): “Establishment of a clean room facility for trace organic contaminant research” (Mueller, JF; Gaus, C; Lang, M; Escher, BI; Ng, J; Keller, J; Gjerniak, W; Lovington, DA; Lovelock, C )


National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) Project Grant: “Exposure and risks from persistent organic pollutants through consumption of traditional seafood” (Gaus, C)


University of Queensland Start-up Grant: “Developing methods for analysis of dioxin-like compounds in biota” (Gaus, C)


University of Queensland Early Career Grant: “The role of precursors in Queensland’s dioxin contamination” (Gaus, C)


Australian Research Council (ARC) Linkage Grant: “Exposure and sensitivity of marine turtles and dugongs to dioxins - a risk assessment in near shore marine environments of Queensland” (Gaus, C; Connell, D; Limpus, C; Van den Berg, M, Paepke, O; Haynes, D)

Selected Publications

Link to http://www.researcherid.com/rid/B-3387-2009 for Caroline Gaus' full list of publications.

Current Staff and Students

  • Sharon Grant (PhD student & Research Officer)
  • Lan Chen (Research Officer)
  • Nat Jin (PhD student)
  • Kristina Goot (Research Assistant)
  • Ms Veronika Schacht (Occupational Trainee)

Alumni, students and postdoctoral staff:

  • Dr. Eva Holt (2007 -2011). PHD: The Environmental Release of Dioxins Associated with the Use of Pesticides.
  • Dr Yukari Ishikawa (2008-2011). JSPS Postdoctoral Fellow: Semivolatile organic compounds in air
  • Hannah Brocke (2008-200). MSc thesis (Diplomarbeit):
    Heavy metals in seafood from Moreton Bay, Australia – a case study to assess exposure and risk to a local community.
  • Paul Bendig (2008-2009). Endeavour Postgraduate Award Visiting Scholar:
    Extending analytical tools and methods for assessing the atmospheric fate of semi-volatile organic compounds in tropical Queensland
  • Dr Amanda Strachan (2006-2009). PhD thesis: Environmental fate of synthetic pyrethroids: a study on the loss pathways and processes of termiticides in tropical climates.
  • Dr Eva Holt (2005-2006). Honours 1st class: Environmental formation of OCDD from dioxin precursors.
  • Dr Veronica Matthews (2005-2008). PhD thesis: Contaminant dietary exposure assessment for a coastal subpopulation in Queensland, Australia.
  • Christine Muth (2005). Visting Scholar: Distribution of dioxins in marine sediments
  • Martine Muusse (2004-2005). MSc thesis: Maternal transfer of POPs in marine turtles
  • Dr Siobhan Hermanussen (2004-2008). PhD thesis: Distribution and fate of persistent organic pollutants in nearshore marine turtle habitats of Queensland, Australia.


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