Dr Miriam Munoz-Rojas

Fields of Research (FoR)

Land Capability and Soil Degradation, Ecosystem Function, Environmental Management and Rehabilitation, Geospatial Information Systems, Terrestrial Ecology, Conservation and Biodiversity, Soil Biology, Fire Management, Natural Resource Management, Microbial Ecology

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I completed a BSc in Agricultural Engineering at the University of Almeria (Spain) and a MSc in Environmental Sciences and Geographical Information Systems at Wageningen University (Netherlands) followed by a PhD in Natural Resources and Environmental Sciences (2010-2012) at the University of Seville (Spain). In June 2013, I moved to Curtin University where I was appointed as Casual Lecturer and, in November 2013, I started a Postdoctoral...view more

I completed a BSc in Agricultural Engineering at the University of Almeria (Spain) and a MSc in Environmental Sciences and Geographical Information Systems at Wageningen University (Netherlands) followed by a PhD in Natural Resources and Environmental Sciences (2010-2012) at the University of Seville (Spain). In June 2013, I moved to Curtin University where I was appointed as Casual Lecturer and, in November 2013, I started a Postdoctoral position at the University of Western Australia. During 2013-2018 I lead the Soil Program within the Restoration Seedbank Initiative, a major industry-based research project that focused on developing science to drive landscape restoration of biodiverse degraded ecosystems.

My current research is focused on the ecology, conservation and restoration of terrestrial ecosystems. I am particularly interested in understanding plant-soil-microbe interactions and harnessing novel methodologies, including geo-tools, genomics, metabolomics, and eco-engineering, to enhance large-scale ecosystem restoration outcomes and ensure the provision of key ecosystem services. I coordinate SOIL DarkDivNet, an add-on study of the global network DarkDivNet. that investigates the links between plant traits and soil biogeochemical parameters and indices regulated by soil microbial metabolic processes, i.e. soil respiration, carbon fixation and mineralisation, at several spatial scales.


My Grants

  • 2021. M Muñoz-Rojas, M Ooi, C Offord, N Emery. Native microbes for promoting conservation and restoration of threatened ecological communities. Australian Flora Foundation
  • 2020-2021. M Ooi, D Keith, W Cornwell, M Muñoz-Rojas et al. Building capacity for resilience & recovery of threatened ecological communities. Australian Department of Agriculture, Water, Environment
  • 2019-2023. M Ooi, D Keith, W Cornwell, M Lyons, M Muñoz-Rojas et al. Beyond fire frequency: understanding fire season for ecosystem management. ARC Linkage Program.
  • 2019. M Muñoz-Rojas. Conservation of threatened native plants with indigenous soil bacteria. Faculty of Research Grant, UNSW Sydney
  • 2019. A Rich, P Koshy, W-F Chen, D Chu, T Wu, M Muñoz-Rojas. Nuclear Magnetic Resonance Facility Faculty of Research Infrastructure Scheme: Supporting Collaborative Research, UNSW Sydney
  • 2018-2021. M Muñoz-Rojas. Cyanobacterial bioencapsulation for restoring degraded drylands. Australian Research Council Discovery Early Career Award (DECRA)
  • 2018-2021. M Muñoz-Rojas, T Erickson, D Merritt. Novel approaches for harnessing native soil microbial communities to restore biodiverse degraded ecosystems in drylands. Hermon Slade Foundation & Australia and Pacific Science Foundation/Australia Pacific Science Hermon Slade Research Fund
  • 2017-2020. T Erickson, D Merritt, M Muñoz-Rojas, A Guzzomi et al. Eco-engineering solutions to improve mine-site rehabilitation outcomes. Department of Industry, Innovation and Science Global Innovation Linkages Programme
  • 2018. M Muñoz-Rojas, David Eldridge, Wendy Williams, Yolanda canton, Albert Sole. Innovative nature-based strategies for drylands restoration: the potential of indigenous cyanobacteria. UWA Research Collaboration Award
  • 2018. T Erickson, D Merritt, A Guzzomi, M Muñoz-Rojas. Catalysing the adoption of ‘restoration engineering’ in large-scale rehabilitation programs. University of Western Australia: Research Impact Grant (2018)
  • 2016. M Muñoz-Rojas, A Sole-Benet, C Oyonarte. Connecting above and belowground processes to restore functionality of arid lands: a comparison between Northern and Southern hemisphere ecosystems. UWA Research Collaboration Award ($19,600)
  • 2015. M Muñoz-Rojas, A Jordán, JA Gonzalez-Perez. Soil water repellence in biodiverse semi-arid environments: new insights and implications for ecological restoration. UWA Research Collaboration Award ($15,000)
  • 2013-2017. F López-Ruiz, R Oliver, M Muñoz-Rojas. Fungicide resistance management strategy and communications. Grain Research and Development Corporation.

My Qualifications

  • Ph.D. in Natural Resources and Environment (2012), University of Seville (Seville, Spain) (Summa cum laude, international mention). Modelling soil carbon sequestration capacity in Mediterranean soils.
  • Master of Innovation Management (2010) University of Almeria (Spain). Development of CarboSOIL system
  • M.Sc. Agricultural Engineering (2004) University of Almeria (Almeria, Spain). Land use dynamics and soil erosion risk in Sierra de Gádor (Spain)
  • M.Sc. Environmental Sciences and Geographical information Systems (2002) - Centre of Geo Information and Remote Sensing, Wageningen University (The Netherlands). Soil erosion assessment at different scale levels in the Cabo de Gata-Nijar Natural Park.

My Awards

2018 Australian Research Council Discovery Early Career Research Award

2017 Science Writing Fellowship. University of New South Wales

2013 Travel grant for the COST-FTP Young Researcher’s Forum, European Cooperation in Science and Technology (COST)

2011-2013 Research Fellowship Contract Subprogram Torres Quevedo (MICINN-PTQ), Ministry of Science and Innovation, Spain

2012 Young Scientist's Travel Award for Europeans, European Geosciences Union General Assembly, Vienna, Austria

2012 Outstanding Student Poster Award, European Geosciences Union General Assembly, Vienna, Austria

2011 Conference Grant for Early Stage Researchers, European Cooperation in Science and Technology

2003 Department Collaboration Fellowship at University of Almeria. Ministry of Education and Sciences, Spain

2002 Erasmus Fellowship (European Region Action Scheme for the Mobility of University Student) at Wageningen University & Research Centre, The Netherlands

My Research Activities

Main lines of research

  • Improving soil health in ecosystem restoration through multi-planting and design of growth media
  • Interactions between plant/seed-soil-microbes. Application for conservation and restoration of threatened plant communities and degraded land.
  • Cyanobacteria from soil biocrust as bio-active resources in ecosystem conservation and restoration
  • Fire impacts on soil and ecosystems: plant-soil interactions and Effects of land degradation/biodiversity loss/global change in soil function and biodiversity

My Research Supervision

Currently supervising

Current students

Jana Stewart (PhD, 2020- : UNSW Sydney). Restoration of ecosystem function in a conserved drylands system: understanding abiotic and biotic interactions

Frederick Dadzie (PhD, 2019-   ; UNSW Sydney). Restoring degraded drylands ecosystems with bio-encapsulation of native soil microorganisms.

Mercedes Ondik (PhD, 2020-   ; UNSW Sydney). Effects of fire and overgrazing on soil fertility and the restorative potential of native soil microbes post-degradation

Alexandria Thomsen (PhD, 2020-   ; UNSW Sydney). How does fire season effect native plant species across Mediterranean and aseasonal rainfall climate regions of Australia?

Past students (completed)

Amber Bateman (PhD, UWA, 2017-2020, UWA) Life post mining: Using soil amendments to promote soil quality and native plant recruitment for arid landscape rehabilitation.

Nathali Machado de Lima (PhD, 2017-2020, University of Sao Paulo, Brazil). Cyanobacterial biocrust distribution and diversity in the Caatinga biome based on polyphasic taxonomy and metagenomics

Emma Stock (Master student, Murdoch University, 2019) Experimenting with modified extruded seed pellets for large-scale mine rehabilitation.

Melissa Chua (BSc hons, UWA, 2019) The use of cyanobacteria as a bio-tool in post-mine restoration

Tayla Kneller (BSc hons, Curtin University, 2017) Effects of plant diversity and soil characteristics on restoration sucess of drylands using amended soils

Amber Bateman (BSc hons, UWA, 2016) Ecophysiological responses of arid zone species to novel growth substrates and drought: Implications for restoration success

Elisabeth Jiménez Compán (BSc hons, University of Seville, Spain, 2015) Analysis of the quantitative and qualitative changes in soil organic matter after fire: effects on soil microbial populations and influence of plant species.

Luke Kitchens (BSc hons, Murdoch University, 2015) The contribution of Western Australian native plant species to soil water repellence: Characterising Hydrophobic Soils.

Rafaela Lima (BSc hons, International fellowship; Sao Paulo University, 2014) Seedling emergence of native plant species in soil materials from mining sites.

Visiting students

Marco Jimenez (PhD student; Spanish National Research Council, visiting in 2019). Effects of fire season on soil organic matter and microbial communities.

Raul Roman (PhD student; University of Almeria, Spain, visiting in 2018) Development of new methodologies for soil recovery in degraded drylands. Cyanobacteria inoculation in field settings.

Research Associates/Postdoctoral Research Fellows

Nathali Machado de Lima (2020-  )

James Charlesworth (2019- 2021)

Angela Chilton, PhD (2018- 2021)

Amber Bateman (2017)

Dylan Martini (2014-2016)

My Engagement


Editorial boards: Journal of Applied Ecology (Associate Editor), Plos One (Editorial Board), Journal of Arid Environments (Associate Editor), Agronomy (Topical Editor); Solid Earth (Topical Editor- until 2020); Frontiers in Ecology and Evolution; Land Degradation and Development; Journal of Environmental Management (Guest Editor, 2018-2020)

Committees: Early Career Academic Network Science (co-chair) (

European Geosciences Union (Commitee member) ; Soil System Division; Subdivision Soil Pollution and Reclamation. Soil Science Australia.

Memberships: Society for Ecological Restoration (Washington, USA); Women in Soil Sciences (UK); Woman in Sciences Australia (Australia); Global Soil Biodiversity Initiative (Colorado State University, USA); Fuegored (Spanish Fire Network Association); Conservation Australia Volunteers; MED_Soil Research Group (University of Seville, Spain), LANDCARE Erasmus + Programme.

Others: UNSW Women in Maths and Science Champions Program (

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School of Biological, Earth and Environmental Sciences