Professor Robert Hill is a Professor in Botany at the University of Adelaide. He graduated from the University of Adelaide firstly in 1981 with his Ph.D. on Tertiary plant macrofossils in 1981, and then with his D.Sc. on the interaction between climate change and the evolution of the living Australian vegetation in 1997. In 1979 he accepted a position as Tutor in Botany at James Cook University, and in 1980 he was offered a lecturing position in the Department of Botany at the University of Tasmania. He remained at the University of Tasmania until 1999, after being promoted to Professor in 1993. He was Head of the School of Plant Science for 6 years prior to his departure, and was awarded Professor Emeritus status by the University of Tasmania Council in 2000. In 1999 he returned to the University of Adelaide as an Australian Research Council (ARC) Senior Research Fellow, in 2001 he was appointed Head of Science at the South Australian Museum and in 2003 became Head of the School of Earth and Environmental Sciences. He was appointed as Executive Dean of the Faculty of Sciences in September 2006 and held that position for 11 years. He recently completed a long period as Director of the University’s Environment Institute.
Professor Hill has made significant contributions to the areas of palaeobotany, plant systematics, plant ecophysiology and the application of research from these areas to interpreting changes that have occurred to the Australian flora through evolutionary time.
He has had a lifetime interest in the evolution of the vegetation of Australia and Antarctica. He has published more than 150 refereed journal papers, 35 book chapters, several symposium papers and has edited or co-edited four books; The History of the Australian Vegetation (Cambridge University Press), Ecology of the Southern Conifers (Melbourne University Press), The Ecology and Biogeography of Nothofagus Forests (Yale University Press), and Vegetation of Tasmania (Australian Biological Resources Study).
He is best known for his research on the fossil history of the southern beech, Nothofagus, and the southern conifers. His research on the fossil history of Nothofagus has been critical in refining our understanding of its evolution and has led to a major revision of our understanding of the biogeography of this critical southern genus.
In recent years he has turned his attention to the impact of climate change on the living vegetation, with a strong interest in the impact of extreme weather events on vegetation within urban areas and also on the recovery of native vegetation following extreme fire events.