Skip to Content
Centre for Coastal Biogeochemistry Research

Professor Isaac Santos

Research Interests

Professor Isaac Santos

Professor Isaac Santos works at the interface between coastal oceanography, hydrology, and biogeochemistry. He was awarded a Ph.D. from Florida State University (USA) in 2008, and has received awards for excellence in research, teaching and community engagement. His research focuses on greenhouse gas cycling and the use of natural radioactive tracers to investigate submarine groundwater discharge. Santos has obtained a total of 15 ARC grants worth >$6 million to investigate groundwater issues and carbon cycling on the continental shelf, coastal wetlands, coral reefs, geothermal systems, estuaries, and beaches. His research relies on active international collaboration with projects completed on all continents (including Antarctica, but Africa). Santos is an associate editor for Estuaries and Coasts, Marine Chemistry, and Estuarine Coastal and Shelf Science, and has been a keynote speaker on a number of international conferences.

Honours and awards

2017: Visiting Research Fellow at the Research Institute for Humanity and Nature in Kyoto, Japan.
2015: Vice Chancellor's Citation for Outstanding Contribution to Student Learning "for developing the foundations of scientific research skills using active learning strategies and inspirational student supervision leading to outstanding academic outcomes".
2014-2016: ARC Discovery Early Career Researcher Award (DECRA) Fellow.
2013: Excellence in Community Engagement Award. Awarded by the SCU Vice Chancellor "for performing community-driven research and using scientific evidence to enlighten the coal seam gas debate".
2013: Research Fellow at the Hanse-Wissenschaftskolleg (Institute for Advanced Study), Delmenhorst, Germany.
2012: Vice Chancellor's Award for excellence for early career research performance.
2011-2013: ARC APD Fellow.
2011: Cronin Award awarded by the Coastal and Estuarine Research Federation for my research on submarine groundwater discharge.
2008: Outstanding graduate student award at Florida State University.
2005-2008: Fulbright Fellowship to pursue a PhD Degree in Oceanography at Florida State University.

Major research grants

ARC Discovery

-$395,220 (DE140101733). The mangrove carbon pump: Resolving the contribution of underground respiration to mangrove greenhouse gas and carbon budgets. Sole CI.

-$279,000 (DP150103286). Will mangrove wetlands carbon burial provide a negative feedback to a warmer climate? CI 2 of 3.

- $260,000 (DP120101645) Are subterranean estuaries a source or sink of greenhouse gases?, Lead Chief Investigator, 2012-2014.

- $310,000 (DP110103638). Unravelling the synergistic effect of ocean acidification and pore water advection on carbonate sediment dissolution: a global sink for CO2?" 2011-2013. CI 2 of 3.

ARC Linkage

- $601,000. (LP160100061). Maximising carbon sequestration in freshwater wetlands. CI 2 of 6.

- $354,740. (LP130100498). Water, Carbon, and Economics: Resolving complex linkages for river health. CI 4 of 14.

- $465,440. (LP130100684) The recovery of seagrass beds: The role of catchments and options for management responses.

- $546,670 (LP110200975) Unravelling the cycling of nitrogen along a subtropical freshwater-marine continuum using a multi-isotope, multi-tracer and modelling approach 2011 to 2014. CI 2 of 4.

- $607,000 (LP100200732) "Resolving nitrogen and phosphorus transformations along subterranean estuary-sediment/water interface continuums in carbonate sands" 2010 to 2013. CI 2 of 3.


- $1,057,000 (LE170100007). An automated fisheries and Oceanographic observing system for Eastern Australia continental shelf waters. CI 1 of 14.

- $150,000 (LE140100083) - "A gamma spectrometry facility for cutting edge environmental geochemistry investigations" 2014. CI 1 of 5.

- $330,000 (LE140100007). An integrated facility for the advanced characterisation of environmental particles. CI 5 of 5.

- $240,000 (LE130100153) "A liquid chromatography/ gas bench: isotope ratio mass spectrometer for new and novel carbon and nitrogen research in coastal systems" 2013. CI 2 of 5.

- $250,000 (LIEF LE120100156) A high precision, automated system for studying greenhouse gas cycling in coastal environments, Lead Chief Investigator, 2012.

- $170,000 (LE100100013) "Eddy Correlation Lander Array" 2010. CI 4 of 12.


- $9300 AINSE Grant no. ALNGRA14015 Are mangrove carbon exports, old or modern? A C-14 analysis of particulate organic carbon (POC), dissolved organic carbon (DOC), and dissolved inorganic carbon (DIC).

- $84,410 "Are groundwater inputs driving de-oxygenation, acidification and eutrophication." Herman Slade Foundation. 2009 to 2012. Project Leader.

- $125,240 Assessing groundwater recharge and flow paths in the Woodburn Sands aquifer using modelling and geochemical approaches. RMS

- $300,000. "A carbon budget for the Great Barrier Reef". Great Barrier Reef Foundation. 2013/2014. CI

- $400,000. "Increasing carbonate chemistry data for the Great Barrier Reef".2013/2014 to 2014/2015. CI

- $30 000 ($15 000 NOROC, $15 000 SCU) "Preliminary assessment of groundwater and creek water chemistry in CSG exploration areas of the Northern Rivers Region".

- $24,000 " Do residential canal estate developments increase greenhouse gas emissions from Australian estuaries? Australian Academy of Sciences W H Gladstone Fund. Lead CI.

- $18,080. "Is groundwater discharge a major source of nutrients and eutrophication to Brisbane Water?" - Gosford City Council. 2012-2014. CI 2 of 3.

- $12,000(NZ) "Unravelling submarine groundwater discharge in New Zealand estuaries" ISAT Fund - New Zealand Academy of Sciences" 2010.