Rochelle Christian

Rochelle Christian
Freelance consultant
Sole Trader

PhD (2000)


I grew up on the Kwongan sand plain, on Noongar country in a working class suburb in Perth. Holidays in the bush gave me a love of the natural world which I also fuelled through reading. I decided early on that I would like to be an ecologist and pursued that career.

It is important to me to contribute to a more socially just and sustainable society, bring more understanding, creativity, justice, truth and beauty into the world, and live a well-rounded life. I’m a serial volunteer- for conservation, science communication, and professional societies. Some favourite ways I spend my spare time are exploring art, cycling, hiking, swimming and travelling.

Area of study

My undergraduate major was in botany. As a summer scholar and honours student I studied the light responses of microalgae, as part of a multidisciplinary program to improve models of water-quality. How physiological processes at small scales influence ecological and evolutionary processes at large scales became a core theme of my later PhD and postdoctoral research.

Recognising that natural and human systems are connected, and wanting to make a more systemic contribution through shaping public policy, I joined the Australian Public Service in 2005.  I’ve worked in the environment, agriculture, industry and health portfolios. To succeed I’ve learnt how to lead and manage, grow my influence and resiliently navigate challenges.

Epic fail

During my PhD the inaugural convenor of the Graduate Teaching Program recommended reading the career planning book What Color is My Parachute. My failure was not to act on that advice until years later, at which point I joined the public service.

Proudest moment

Helping design and implement the Carbon Farming Initiative then transition it to the Emissions Reduction Fund, one of the few elements of climate change policy that has endured through multiple Australian Governments.

Top tip

Contribute, be brave, stay true to your values, and seek out mentors that inspire and encourage you.