Geoffrey J Syme

By September 19th, 2014


Geoffrey Syme graduated with a PhD in social psychology from the University of Canterbury, New Zealand in 1973. After a postdoctoral year at Ruakura Agricultural Research Centre, Hamilton New Zealand, he developed a long-term interest in human decision-making, planning processes and natural resources management.

He was a Lecturer in Psychology at the University of Western Australia, Nedlands from 1974 to 1976 and joined what is now the CSIRO Land and Water Division in 1976 rising to the position of Chief Research Scientist.

After a decade of collaborative research with water agencies he founded the Australian Research Centre for Water in Society which has been in operation for 15 years.

While still maintaining a research role at CSIRO he was appointed:

1988: Adjunct Professor of Psychology, Curtin University of Technology, Bentley, Western Australia
1988 – 96: Served as Co-Director, CSIRO/Curtin Research Centre for Applied Psychology
2006: Adjunct Professor School of Natural and Rural Systems Management, University of Queensland
2008: Professor of Planning at Edith Cowan University in Perth

He was Director of the Australian Research Centre for Water in Society, CSIRO Land and Water from 1992 to 2001 and Director, Water Security and Sustainable Communities, CSIRO Land and Water from 2002 to 2006.

Geoff has had a long-term interest in interdisciplinary approaches to water resources management decision-making. He has published widely internationally and is currently an Editor in Chief for the Journal of Hydrology and member of the Editorial Boards of: Social Justice Research; Rural Society; Australasian Journal of Environmental Management; People and Physical Environment Research; Open Geography.

Honours and awards

For his outstanding contributions to the field he has received the following awards:

1996: Robin Winkler Award (Australian Psychological Society) for his pioneering contribution in the development of community psychological theory in applied research
1995: CSIRO Medal for Research Achievement for contributions in the designing of methodologies to measure community risk/benefit trade-offs; defining perceived ‘fairness’ in water allocation and advancing economic psychological theory
1993: Co-winner of the Inaugural AWWA Peter Hughes Water Award for research to promote water conservation in Australia



  • Syme GJ, 2009, Personal communication.