Professor Robert Hill

Professor Robert Hill
 Position Director - Environment Institute
 Org Unit Environment Institute
 Telephone +61 8 8313 6807
 Location Floor/Room G 05 ,  Benham Laboratories ,   North Terrace
  • Biography/ Background

    Professor Robert Hill is currently the Executive Dean, Faculty of Sciences at the University of Adelaide.

    He is a graduate of the University of Adelaide. He completed his Ph.D. on Tertiary plant macrofossils in 1981, and his D.Sc. on the interaction between climate change and the evolution of the living Australian vegetation in 1997. In 1979 he accepted a position as Tutor in Botany at James Cook University, and in 1980 he was offered a lecturing position in the Department of Botany at the University of Tasmania. He remained at the University of Tasmania until 1999, after being promoted to Professor in 1993. He was Head of the School of Plant Science for 6 years prior to his departure, and was awarded Professor Emeritus status by the University of Tasmania Council in 2000. In 1999 he returned to the University of Adelaide as an Australian Research Council (ARC) Senior Research Fellow, in 2001 he was appointed Head of Science at the South Australian Museum and in 2003 became Head of the School of Earth and Environmental Sciences. He was appointed to his current position of Executive Dean in September 2006.

    During his career he has won many awards including the Clarke and Burbidge Medals for his research into the impact of long-term climate change on the evolution of Australian vegetation. He is currently Editor in Chief of the Australian Journal of Botany.


    1974 The Elsie Marion Cornish Prize for Botany II; 1975 The Ernest Ayers Scholarship in Botany; 1975 The J.G. Wood Memorial Prize for Botany; 1976 The John Bagot Medal for Original Work in Botany; 1977-1979 Commonwealth Postgraduate Research Award; 1988 Elected a Fellow of the Linnean Society of London; 1991 Tasmanian University Union Sports Council Award; 1994 Elected a Fellow of the Australian Institute of Biology; 2000 Awarded Professor Emeritus status by the Council of the University of Tasmania; 2002 Clarke Medal, Royal Society of New South Wales; 2002 Nancy Burbidge Medal, Australian Systematic Botany Society; 2003 Appointed as a Research Associate of the Royal Zoological Society of South Australia


    1979-1980 Tutor in Botany, James Cook University; 1980-1987 Lecturer in Botany, University of Tasmania;1988-1990 Senior Lecturer in Plant Science, University of Tasmania; 1991 Reader in Plant Science, University of Tasmania; 1991-1992 Associate Professor in Plant Science, University of Tasmania; 1993-1999 Professor in Plant Science, University of Tasmania; 1999-2003 ARC Senior Research Fellow, University of Adelaide (Professor); 2001- Head of Science, South Australian Museum; 2003- Head, School of Earth and Environmental Sciences, University of Adelaide; 2006- Executive Dean, Faculty of Sciences, University of Adelaide; 2007-2009 Chair, Academic Board, University of Adelaide; 2007- Council, University of Adelaide

  • Qualifications

    University of Adelaide; graduated with B.Sc. May 1976.

    Honours degree at the Department of Botany, University of Adelaide; Graduated with First Class Honours May 1977.

    Ph.D. at the Department of Botany, University of Adelaide. Graduated April 1981.

    D.Sc. at the Department of Botany, University of Adelaide. Graduated May 1997.

  • Research Interests

    Professor Hill has had a profound impact on the study of Botany in Australia. He has been instrumental in raising the profile of modern botanical studies through his own research which is of the highest international standard, through the training of numerous honours and postgraduate students, many of whom now hold botanical research positions in their own right, and through his distinguished service to botanical societies, organisations and government agencies.

    His botanical research has made significant contributions to the areas of palaeobotany, plant systematics, plant ecophysiology and the application of research from these areas to interpreting changes that have occurred to the Australian flora through evolutionary time.

    He has had a lifetime interest in the evolution of the vegetation of Australia and Antarctica. He has published more than 125 refereed journal papers, 35 book chapters, several symposium papers and has edited or co-edited four books, including The History of the Australian Vegetation (Cambridge University Press), Ecology of the Southern Conifers (Melbourne University Press), The Ecology and Biogeography of Nothofagus Forests (Yale University Press), and Vegetation of Tasmania (Australian Biological Resources Study).

    He is best known for his research on the fossil history of the southern beech, Nothofagus, and the southern conifers. His research on the fossil history of Nothofagus has been critical in refining our understanding of its evolution and has led to a major revision of our understanding of the biogeography of this critical southern genus.

  • Publications



    Paull, R. & Hill, R.S. 2004. Why were the leaves of Tertiary Nothofagus subgenus Brassospora species serrate margined? Australian Biologist 17, 34-54.


    Hill, R.S. 2004. Origins of the southeastern Australian vegetation. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society of London B 359, 1537-1549.


    Carpenter, R.J., Hill, R.S., Greenwood, D.R., Partridge, A.D. & Banks, M.A. 2004. No snow in the mountains: Early Eocene plant fossils from Hotham Heights, Victoria, Australia. Australian Journal of Botany 52, 685-718.


    Whang, S.S., Kim, K. & Hill, R.S. 2004. Cuticle micromorphology of leaves of Pinus (Pinaceae) from North America. Botanical Journal of the Linnean Society 144, 303-320.


    Mill, R.R. & Hill, R.S. 2004. Validation of the names of seven Podocarpaceae macrofossils. Taxon 53, 1043-1046.


    Tait, C.J., Daniels, C.B. & Hill, R.S. 2005. Changes in species assemblages within the Adelaide Metropolitan area, Australia, 1836-2002. Ecological Applications 15, 346-359.


    Read, J., Hope, G.S. & Hill, R.S. 2005. Phytogeography and climate analysis of Nothofagus subgenus Brassospora in New Guinea and New Caledonia. Australian Journal of Botany 53, 297-312.


    Carpenter, R.J., Hill, R.S. & Jordan, G.J. 2005. Leaf cuticular morphology links Platanaceae and Proteaceae. International Journal of Plant Science 166, 843-855.


    Brodribb, T.J., Holbrook, N.M. & Hill, R.S. 2005. Seedling growth in conifers and angiosperms: impacts of contrasting xylem structure. Australian Journal of Botany 53, 749-755.


    Carpenter, R.J., Hill, R.S. & Scriven, L.J. 2006. Palmately lobed Proteaceae leaf fossils from the middle Eocene of South Australia. International Journal of Plant Sciences 167, 1049-1060.


    Guerin, G.R. & Hill, R.S. 2006. Plant macrofossil evidence for the environment associated with the Riversleigh fauna. Australian Journal of Botany 54, 717-731.


    Mohammadian, MA, Watling JR, & Hill RS (2007) The impact of epicuticular wax on gas-exchange and photoinhibition in Leucodendron lanigerum (Proteaceae). Acta Oecologia 31, 93-101.


    Carpenter, R.J., Jordan, G.J. & Hill, R.S. 2007. A toothed Lauraceae leaf from the Early Eocene of Tasmania, Australia. International Journal of Plant Science 168, 1191-1198.


    Paull, R. & Hill, R.S. 2008. Oligocene Austrocedrus from Tasmania (Australia): comparisons with Austrocedrus chilensis. International Journal of Plant Sciences 169, 315-330.


    McLoughlin, S., Carpenter, R.J., Jordan, G.J. & Hill, R.S. 2008. Seed ferns survived the end-Cretaceous mass extinction event in Tasmania. American Journal of Botany 95, 465-471.


    Hill, R.S., Lewis, T., Carpenter, R.J. & Whang, S.S. 2008. Agathis (Araucariaceae) macrofossils from Cainozoic sediments in south-eastern Australia. Australian Systematic Botany 21, 162-177.


    Paull, R. & Hill, R.S. 2009. Libocedrus macrofossils from Tasmania (Australia). International Journal of Plant Science 170, 381-399.


    Mohammadian, M.A., Hill, R.S. & Watling, J.R. 2009. Stomatal plugs and their impact on fungal invasion in Agathis robusta. Australian Journal of Botany 57, 389-395.


    Carpenter, R.J., Jordan, G.J., Lee, D.E. & Hill, R.S. 2010. Leaf fossils of Banksia (Proteaceae) from New Zealand: an Australian abroad. American Journal of Botany 97, 288-297.


    Paull, R. & Hill, R.S. 2010. Early Oligocene Callitris and Fitzroya (Cupressaceae) from Tasmania. American Journal of Botany 97, 809-820.


    Read, J., Carpenter, R.J., Hill, R.S. & Hope, G.S. 2010. The contrasting biology of tropical versus temperate Nothofagus species and its relevance to interpretations of Cenozoic rainforest history in southeast Australia. Terra Australia 32, 257-274.


    Biffin, E., Hill, R.S. & Lowe, A. 2010. Did Kauri (Agathis: Araucariaceae) really survive the Oligocene drowning of New Zealand? Systematic Biology 59, 1-9.


    Read, J., Hill, R.S. & Hope, G.S. 2010. Contrasting responses to water deficits of Nothofagus species from tropical New Guinea and high-latitude temperate forests: can rainfall regimes constrain latitudinal range? Journal of Biogeography in press.


    Hill, R.S. (ed.) 1994. History of the Australian Vegetation: Cretaceous to Recent. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, 433pp.

    Enright, N.J. & Hill, R.S. (eds) 1995. Ecology of the Southern Conifers. Melbourne University Press, Melbourne. 342pp.

    Veblen, T.T., Hill, R.S. & Read, J. (eds) 1996. The Ecology and Biogeography of Nothofagus Forests. Yale University Press, Yale. 403pp.

    Reid, J.B., Hill, R.S., Brown, M.J. & Hovenden, M.J. (eds) 1999. Vegetation of Tasmania. Flora of Australia Supplementary Series no. 8, 456 pp. ABRS, Canberra.


    Stockey, R.A., Kvacek, J., Hill, R.S., Rothwell, G.W. & Kvacek, Z. 2005. The fossil record of Cupressaceae s. lat. In: A. Farjon “A Monograph of Cupressaceae and Sciadopitys”. pp. 54-68. Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew.


    Tait, C.J., Daniels, C.B. & Hill, R.S. 2005. The Urban Ark 1: The historical evolution of the plant community. In: C.B. Daniels & C.J. Tait (eds) Adelaide, Nature of a City: the ecology of a dynamic city from 1836 to 2036. pp. 88-108. BioCity: Centre for Urban Habitats, Adelaide, South Australia.


    Hill, R.S. & Brodribb, T.J. 2006. The evolution of Australia’s living biota. In P. Attiwill & B. Wilson (eds) Ecology: An Australian Perspective. Second Edition. pp. 19-40. Oxford University Press, South Melbourne.


    Hopper, S., Dixon, K. & Hill, R.S. 2006. Australian seeds through time. In L. Sweedman & D. Merritt (eds) Australian Seeds. pp. 5-10. CSIRO, Collingwood.

  • Professional Associations

    Fellow of the Linnean Society of London

    International Organisation of Palaeobotanists

    International Commission for Palynology

    Royal Society of South Australia

    Australian Systematic Botany Society (newsletter editor 1998-2001)

    Palynological and Palaeobotanical Association of Australasia (President 1994-1997)

    Geological Society of Australia

    Southern Connection (Founding Member and Bulletin Editor, 1991-2004)

    Fellow of the Australian Institute of Biology (President 2001-2003)

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Entry last updated: Friday, 3 Aug 2018

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