Dr Deb O’Connell


Host Facilitator Stream Leader & HB6 Host Facilitator

Deb loves to explore and understand the world, in all its many facets. She started life in Zimbabwe, then moved to South Africa and settled in Australia at 21. Her career has also been a journey through different approaches to making a positive difference in the world. Having started in the biophysical sciences, she realised that different outcomes for the planet could best be achieved by working with and through people, so for the last 20 years her work has focussed on leading teams to address global issues. Her core strengths are systems thinking and leadership; integration across disciplines, sectors, scales and different types of stakeholders; and working at the boundary of theory and practice. Deb’s work in the areas of resilience, adaptation pathways and transformation of social-ecological systems has prepared her well to understand and help manage a rapidly changing world and uncertain future.

Deb has a creative approach to collaboration and co-production of knowledge, and embraces the arts and humanities as critical ways to improve the relevance and impact of science. She has built many successful partnerships and collaborations with a range of people, disciplines and organisations, which is reflected in the range of projects she has led, and her co-authorship on a range of different types of publications. She is an HB1 alumna.