Dr Penny Wurm

Dr Penny Wurm is currently Associate Head of School - Learning & Teaching, School of Environment.

She is an ecologist with research interests in the ecology and management of monsoonal wetlands and invasive plant species, and a teaching practice in environmental science. Her PhD research into the population ecology of native rice has led to projects investigating exotic grass invasion of floodplains and the potential of wild rice as a wild harvest “bush tucker” product.

Penny is currently involved in supervising PhD projects focussing principally on wetland and invasive species ecology and management, and coursework Master students in a range of project areas including ecology, sustainability and livelihoods.

Teaching partnerships with Indonesian universities - Universitas Kristen Wacana, Univesitas Nusa Cendana and Universitas Gadjah Mada – have led to an emerging research practice in catchment management and rural development in West Timor.  Supervisory, academic and consultancy activity also underpin an emerging practice in Timor Leste.

Penny is Course Coordinator for the Master of Environmental Management (formerly the Master of Tropical Environmental Management) at CDU and teaches in a number of units within the Bachelor and Master coursework programs.  She formerly served as Higher Education Project Leader for the Tropical Savannas CRC, and has taught in the VET sector.


  • Endeavour Executive Award – DEEWR (2011). For 10 week funded placement at Satya Wacana Christian University, Salatiga, Central Java, Indonesia. The award focussed on further development of collaborative curriculum projects, collaborative publications and a grant proposal. Awarded by DEEWR in Dec 2010 to be taken up in November 2011. Member of Endeavour Alumni.
  • National Carrick Institute Citation (2006) for An engaging, flexible postgraduate program, focusing on tropical Australia and building skills and understandings for regional Professionals in authentic learning contexts.  ($10,000) .  In collaboration with Dr Keith Mc Guinness, Dr Lindsay Hutley, Dr Diane Pearson and Dr Samantha Setterfield (CDU).
  • National Australian Society for Computers in Tertiary Education (ASCILITE) Award (2005).  Fire Ecology & Management in Northern Australia teaching and learning materials won one of the 2005 National ASCILITE Awards for Educational Design & Technology in Tertiary Education, for “Exemplary use of electronic technologies in teaching and learning in higher education”.  In collaboration with Dr Lesley Instone (CDU), Helen Rysavy (CDU) and Dr Kate Parr (CSIRO/Bushfire CRC).


  • PhD, Charles Darwin University.  The population ecology of Oryza meridionalis Ng on the South Alligator River floodplain, Kakadu National Park, monsoonal Australia.  Completed in December 1998. 

  • BSc (Hons I), Murdoch University.  Honours thesis Molluscs of Leschenault Inlet: habitats, distribution and population dynamics. Completed in June 1987. 

  • BSc, Murdoch University. Degree commenced 1976 at University of the South Pacific, Fiji, and was completed at Murdoch University, Western Australia, in December 1979. 


Unit coordinator:
SID300 Eastern Indonesian Field Intensive (offered biennially)
SBI550/551 MTEM/MEM Research Project (Semester 1,2)
SBI401 Community Engagement for Biosecurity (Semester 2)
SBI201 Introductory ecology (Semester 1)

Other academic administrative service:

Year Type Citation
2013 Journal Article Boyden, J., Joyce, K., Boggs, G. & Wurm, P. Mapping of native vegetation and para grass (Urochloa mutica) on a monsoonal wetland of Kakadu NP using a Landsat 5 TM Dry-season time series. Journal of Spatial Science 58, 77 (2013).
2012 Report Wurm, P., Campbell, L., Batten, G. D. & Bellairs, S. M. Australian native rice: A new sustainable wild food enterprise. Research Project No PRJ000347/Publication No 10/175 (Rural Industries Research and Development Corporation, 2012). at <https://rirdc.infoservices.com.au/items/10-175>
2012 Journal Article Myers, B. A. et al. Food Security and Access to Water Resources: A Case Study at a Village in West Timor. Kritis 21, 134-154 (2012).
2011 Report Myers, B. A., Fisher, R. P., Paul, T., Wurm, P. & Campbell, C. Andrew. The Vulnerability of Groundwater Resources to Climate Change in Timor-Leste Groundwater Resources to Climate Change in Timor-Leste. (Department of Climate Change and Energy Efficiency, 2011).
2010 Journal Article Trueman, M., Atkinson, R., Guézou, A. & Wurm, P. Residence time and human-mediated propagule pressure at work in the alien flora of Galapagos. Biological Invasions 12, 3949 - 3960 (2010).
2009 Report Myers, B. A. et al. Food and Water Resources in Linamnutu Village: A Pilot Study. Technical report on field studies in West Timor, 23 November - 5 December 2009 (CDU, UKSW, UNDANA, 2009).
2008 Conference Paper A. Gutteres, daC., Wurm, P., Janes, J. & Paul, T. The Control of Bellyache Bush (Jatropha gossypifolia) Monocultures - Properties of a Bellyache Bush Burn. Proceedings of the 16th Australian Weeds Conference, 18-22 May 2008 (van Klinken, R. D., Osten, V. A., Panetta, F. D. & Scalan, J. C.) (Queensland Weeds Society, 2008). at <http://www.caws.org.au/awc/2008/awc200814511.pdf>
2007 Journal Article Wurm, P. Suppression of germination and establishment of native annual rice by an exotic grass on an Australian monsoonal floodplain. Plant Protection Quarterly 22, 106-112 (2007).
2006 Conference Paper Wurm, P., Bellairs, S. M. & Kernich, B. Suppression of native wild rice germination by exotic para grass. 'Managing Weeds in A Changing Climate': Proceedings of the 15th Australian Weeds Conference, 24-28 September 2006 (Preston, C., Watts, J. H. & Crossman, N. D.) (2006). at <http://www.caws.org.au/awc/2006/awc200618231.pdf>
2000 Journal Article Wurm, P. & Sememiuk, V. The Leschenault Inlet estuary: physical features and habitats for benthic fauna. Journal of the Royal Society of WA - Special Edition 83, 229-250 (2000).
2000 Journal Article Semeniuk, V. & Wurm, P. Molluscs of the Leschenault Inlet estuary: their diversity, distribution, and population dynamics. Journal of the Royal Society of WA - Special Edition 83, 377-418 (2000).
1998 Journal Article Wurm, P. A surplus of seeds: high rates of post-dispersal seed predation in flooded grassland in monsoonal Australia. Australian Journal of Ecology 23, 385-392 (1998).
1989 Journal Article Semeniuk, V., Cresswell, I. & Wurm, P. The Quindalup Dunes: the regional system, physical framework and vegetation habitats. Journal of the Royal Society of Western Australia 71, 23-47 (1989).
1987 Journal Article Semeniuk, V. & Wurm, P. Mangroves of the Dampier Archipelago, Western Australia. Journal of the Royal Society of Western Australia 69, 29-87 (1987).


Australian wild rice: a potential new sustainable wild food enterprise

Investigating the feasibility of harvesting and processing native rices with a view to preparing novelty food products for sale in the tourism industry.
Australian wild rice: a potential new sustainable wild food enterprise

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