Penelope Godwin

BSc (Sustainability Science), MSc (Integrated Water Management, UQ)
PhD Student

Penny is a joint PhD student at the Fenner School for Environment and Society and the Research Institute for the Environment and Livelihoods, Charles Darwin University.

Penny has an interdisciplinary background in environmental science, natural resource management, Asian Studies (Indonesian) and community development with a recent focus on integrated water management.

Penny’s first experience in natural resource management and development was as an intern with The Nature Conservancy on a small Indonesian island within the Coral Triangle assessing the potential impact of a marine protected area on local communities. This experience led to an ongoing interest in natural resource management and community development, particularly in Indonesia.


Penny’s professional experience includes the environmental statistics area of the Australian Bureau of Statistics, the former Bureau of Rural Science (now ABARES), the Queensland Statewide Landcover and Tree Study, the Australian Rivers Institute (Griffith University) and the Department of Environment water policy and environmental approvals areas.

In 2010-11 Penny completed an Australian Youth Ambassador for Development assignment in Sumba, East Indonesia as a catchment management officer with a local natural resource management organisation. It was during her time in Sumba that Penny saw the potential to strengthen the catchment hydrology knowledge base to assist natural resource managers with their planning and this is the driving force behind her PhD.

Penny maintains her ties with East Indonesia through involvement with the NTA – East Indonesia Aid and has been a member of the board since 2014.

Research interests

Thesis title

Catchment hydrology in the Wet-Dry Tropics – the relationship between landcover and spring yields in East Sumba, Indonesia

Thesis description

In East Sumba water for household and productive needs is scarce, particularly during the dry season, which can last up to nine months. There is a commonly held public perception that trees in upper catchments will capture water and convey it to streams and springs and this principle provides the basis for significant investments in catchment revegetation projects by communities in partnership with government and non-government organisations. There are many anecdotes about the resurgence of spring flows following revegetation works or conversely, the disappearance of springs following deforestation. There is little empirical data on the influence of the presence, density or type of vegetation on water flows in the region and the physical drivers of changes in spring flows. Penny’s PhD project aims to capture the local understanding of water flows in springs and the influence of vegetation on flows and integrate this with a study of hydrological fluxes in the catchment.