Prof Robert Hill

Head of Science

+61 8 8313 5650


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 PhD on Tertiary plant macrofossils in 1981, and his DSc 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 six 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 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.


Positions at Other Organisation

  • Executive Dean, Faculty of Sciences, University of Adelaide
  • Director, Environment Institute, University of Adelaide


Research Interests  

Botany in Australia; raising the profile of modern botanical studies; palaeobotany; plant systematics; plant ecophysiology; evolution and vegetation of Australia and Antarctica; fossil history of the southern beech Nothofagus, and the southern confiers.


Current Research Projects

  • Eocene vegetation of southern Australia – the breakup of the great Gondwanan rainforests
  • Conifer diversity in the Southern Hemisphere over the last 50 million years – a major climate change response


Awards & Achievements

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


Professional Associations

  • Fellow of the Australian Institute of Biology (President 2001–2003)
  • Member, Australian Systematic Botany Society (Newsletter Editor 1998–2001)
  • Member, Geological Society of Australia
  • Member, International Commission for Palynology
  • Member, International Organisation of Palaeobotanists
  • Fellow of the Linnean Society of London
  • Member, Palynological and Palaeobotanical Association of Australasia (President 1994–1997)
  • Member, Royal Society of South Australia
  • Founding Member, Southern Connection (Bulletin Editor, 1991–2004)



  1. Mellick, R., Lowe, A., Allen, C., Hill, R. S., and Rossetto, M. (2012). Palaeodistribution modelling and genetic evidence highlight differential post-glacial range shifts of a rain forest conifer distributed across a latitudinal gradient. Journal of Biogeography 39: 2292–2302.
  2. Carpenter, R. J., Jordan, G. J., Macphail, M. K., and Hill, R. S. (2012). Near-tropical Early Eocene terrestrial temperatures at the Australo-Antarctic margin, western Tasmania. Geology 40: 267–270.
  3. Biffin, E., Brodribb, T. J., Hill, R. S., Thomas, P., and Lowe, A. J. (2012). Leaf evolution in Southern Hemisphere conifers tracks the angiosperm ecological radiation. Proceedings of the Royal Society of London Series B 279: 341–348.
  4. Carpenter, R. J., Goodwin, M. P., Hill, R. S., and Kanold, K. (2011). Silcrete plant fossils from Lightning Ridge, New South Wales: new evidence for climate change and monsoon elements in the Australian Cenozoic. Australian Journal of Botany 59: 399–425.
  5. Jordan, G. J., Carpenter, R.J ., Bannister, J. M., Lee, D. E., Mildenhall, D. C., and Hill, R. S. (2011). High conifer diversity in Oligo-Miocene New Zealand. Australian Systematic Botany 24: 121–136.
  6. Read, J., Hill, R. S., and 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 37: 1962–1976.
  7. Biffin, E., Hill, R. S., and Lowe, A. (2010). Did Kauri (Agathis: Araucariaceae) really survive the Oligocene drowning of New Zealand? Systematic Biology 59:1–9.
  8. Read, J., Carpenter, R. J., Hill, R. S., and 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 Australis 32: 257–274.
  9. Paull, R. and Hill, R. S. (2010). Early Oligocene Callitris and Fitzroya (Cupressaceae) from Tasmania. American Journal of Botany 97: 809–820.
  10. Carpenter, R. J., Jordan, G. J., Lee, D. E., and Hill, R. S. (2010). Leaf fossils of Banksia (Proteaceae) from New Zealand: an Australian abroad. American Journal of Botany 97: 288–297.



  1. Reid, J. B., Hill, R. S., Brown, M. J., and Hovenden, M. J. (eds.) (1999). Vegetation of Tasmania. Flora of Australia Supplementary Series no. 8, 456 pp. ABRS, Canberra.
  2. Veblen, T. T., Hill, R. S., and Read, J. (eds.) (1996). The Ecology and Biogeography of Nothofagus Forests. Yale University Press, Yale. 403 pp.
  3. Enright, N. J. and Hill, R. S. (eds.) (1995). Ecology of the Southern Conifers. Melbourne University Press, Melbourne. 342 pp. 
  4. Hill, R. S. (ed.) (1994). History of the Australian Vegetation: Cretaceous to Recent. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, 433 pp.


Full publication list for Robert Hill.