An image of a person underwater in scuba gear, holding a starfish. Above the waterline is a boat.

Join Dr Adam Sundberg as he presents a lecture on his 2023 National Library Fellowship research about the environmental history of ballast water and management in Australia.

Entry is free to this event but bookings are essential.

The talk will be available to view live online via the Library's Facebook and YouTube pages. You do not need to book a ticket to watch the event online.

Dr Adam Sundberg is a 2023 National Library of Australia Fellow, supported by the Stokes family.

About Dr Adam Sundberg's Fellowship research

Ballast water is among the most significant drivers of species introductions and a striking example of the unintended environmental consequences of globalized trade. Broad scientific recognition of this global phenomenon emerged between the late 1970s and 1990s after a series of dramatic bioinvasions, including the discovery of dinoflagellates (a type of algae) in coastal Australia that produced a toxin dangerous to humans. These introductions presented a public health hazard, and several species appeared linked to the discharge of ballast water. This discovery led to the first shipping guidelines to mitigate introductions. By the early 1990s, Australia emerged as a global leader in ballast water science and management.

Drawing on the National Library's collection of ballast water studies, state and industry reports, print/microfilm newspapers, and monographs largely unavailable outside of Australia, this history will explore how and why ‘toxic dinoflagellates’ catalysed this policy response. It will trace the origins of the crisis through the convergence of multiple environmental and social changes, including the growth of the woodchipping and aquaculture industries, international shipping, and evolving role of Australian marine scientists as policy actors.

About Dr Adam Sundberg

2023 National Library of Australia Fellow Dr Adam Sundberg is an Associate Professor of History and Digital Humanities at Creighton University in Omaha, USA. His research focuses on the environmental history of disasters and his work has appeared in several academic journals, including Environmental History, The Low Countries Journal of Social and Economic History, and Dutch Crossing. His first book, Natural Disaster at the Closing of the Dutch Golden Age: Floods, Worms, and Cattle Plague was published by Cambridge University Press in 2022. This work was supported by several grants and fellowships, including a US National Science Foundation DDRIG grant and a Fulbright fellowship to the Netherlands

About National Library of Australia Fellowships

The National Library of Australia Fellowships program offers researchers an opportunity to undertake a 12-week residency at the Library. This program is supported by generous donors and bequests

Image credit: Simon O'Dwyer, Starfish diver, c.1996–2004, nla.obj-149334891, courtesy of Simon O’Dwyer and The Age

Type Fellowship presentation