Dr Joëlle Gergis is an award-winning climate scientist and writer from the Australian National University, Australia. She is an internationally recognised expert in Australian and Southern Hemisphere climate variability and change based in the Australian Research Council (ARC) Centre of Excellence for Climate Extremes. Joëlle’s research focuses on providing a long-term historical context for assessing recently observed climate variability and extremes. She is the Director of Climate History Australia, a landmark initiative to reconstruct past climate variability and extremes to improve future climate change risk.
From 2009–2012 she led the Australian Research Council Linkage funded South-Eastern Australian Recent Climate History (SEARCH) project; a landmark initiative, spanning the sciences and the humanities to reconstruct the region’s climate variability from first European settlement in 1788.
From 2009 Joëlle led the international Past Global Changes (PAGES) working group on Australasian climate variability of the past 2,000 years (Aus2K), until the project’s completion in 2017. This involved coordinating the development of the region’s 1,000 year temperature reconstruction for input into the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Fifth Assessment Report. In 2012 she joined the World Climate Research Programs (WCRP) Climate Variability and Predictability (CLIVAR)–Past Global Change (PAGES) science panel working to promote the use of palaeoclimate data to examine issues of future climate predictability.
Joëlle received her PhD in high-resolution palaeoclimatology from the University of New South Wales in 2006. Since 2003 she has authored over 100 climate variability and change publications. Her work has been covered on national and international television (SBS World News, ABC New Breakfast, TVNZ, USA 60Minutes), radio (ABC Radio National, AM, BBC World Service, Bush Telegraph, Science Show, RRR) and print media (The Guardian, New York Times, The Australian, The Age, Sydney Morning Herald, and Australian Geographic).
In 2007 she was one of three national finalists for the 2007 Eureka Prize for Young Leaders in Environmental Issues and Climate Change, and was one of nineteen Wentworth Group of Concerned Scientists’ Science Leaders Scholarship recipients selected nationwide. Professor Tim Flannery, the 2007 Australian of the Year, was one of her mentors during the program aimed at training outstanding young scientists to help bridge the communication gap between science and public policy.
In 2012 Joëlle completed the RMIT University’s esteemed Diploma of Professional Writing and Editing. She has published articles for the The Monthly, The Guardian, The Griffith Review, Harper’s Bazaar, Sydney Morning Herald, Australasian Science, The Conversation, and Cosmos magazine. In 2008 Joëlle was nominated for a Reuters/IUCN Awards for Excellence in Environmental Journalism for feature writing, and in June 2012 she was awarded a Writers Victoria Grace Marion Wilson Fellowship for an Emerging Writer.
In 2012 Joëlle was awarded an Australian Research Council (ARC) Discovery Early Career Researcher Award (DECRA) fellowship, and her team won the 2014 Eureka Prize for Excellence in Interdisciplinary Scientific Research – informally known as the ‘Oscars of Australian Science’.
In 2015 Joëlle was awarded the Dean’s Award for Excellence in Research in the Faculty of Science at the University of Melbourne. In February 2018, she was selected to serve as a lead author for the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Sixth Assessment Report – a global, state-of-the art review of climate change science.
Joëlle’s book Sunburnt Country: The future and history of climate change in Australia, was released by Melbourne University Publishing in April 2018.
In August 2018, Joëlle joined the Climate Council – Australia’s leading independent body providing expert advice to the Australian public on climate change and policy.
In February 2020 she received the 2019 AMOS Science Outreach Award, a national prize for science communication awarded by the Australian Meteorological and Oceanographic Society (AMOS), Australia’s peak professional body for climate science.
She is currently working on her next book, Witnessing the Unthinkable: Notes from the Front Line of the Climate Crisis, due for release in 2022.