UTS site search

Professor Margaret Burchett


Dr Margaret Burchett is a plant scientist with special expertise in plant environmental toxicology and management, and the use of plants to reduce and ameliorate pollution in soil, sediments, or air. She is now an Adjunct Professor in the Faculty of Science and chief investigator in several research projects.
Margaret is a former Head of School of life sciences, UTS, and Co Director of the Centre for Ecotoxicology, a joint venture of UTS and NSW EPA. She was founding President of the Australasian Society for Ecotoxicology (ASE). For four years she was a member of the International Environmental Panel for Oktedi mining, PNG.
Dr Burchett is also a former university representative member of the NSW Contaminated Site Auditors’ Accreditation Panel and is a co-convenor of the School of the Environment Contaminated Site Short Course program.

Visiting Professor, School of Life Sciences
Can supervise: Yes


Yunusa, I.A., Veeragathipillai, M., Burchett, M., Eamus, D. & Skilbeck, G. 2007, 'Utilisation of coal combustion products in agriculture' in Gurba, L., Heidrich, C. & Ward, C. (eds), Coal Combustion Products Handbook, Cooperative Research Centre for Coal in Sustainable Development, Australia, pp. 374-409.


Yunusa, I.A., Veeragathipillai, M., Burchett, M., Skilbeck, G. & Eamus, D. 2007, 'Australian fly-ashes as an agronomic resource: progress and new opportunities', Contamination Clean-up 07, Adelaide, Australia.
Yunusa, I.A., Eamus, D., De Silva, D.L., Murray, B., Burchett, M., Skilbeck, G. & Heidrich, C. 2005, 'Prospects for coal-ash in the management of Australian soils', World of Coal Ash Proceedings, World of Coal Ash 2005, Coal ash Association and the University of Kentucky's Centre for Applied Energy Research, Lexington, USA, p. CD ROM.

Journal articles

Torpy, F.R., Irga, P.J., Brennan, J.P. & Burchett, M. 2013, 'Do indoor plants contribute to the aeromycota in city buildings?', Aerobiologia, vol. 29, pp. 321-331.
View/Download from: UTS OPUS or Publisher's site
Do indoor plants contribute to the aeromycota in city buildings?
Yunusa, I.A., Loganathan, L., Nissanka, S.P., Manoharan, V., Burchett, M., Skilbeck, G. & Eamus, D. 2012, 'Application of coal fly ash in agriculture: A strategic perspective', Critical Reviews in Environmental Science and Technology, vol. 42, no. 6, pp. 559-600.
View/Download from: UTS OPUS or Publisher's site
Fly ash is a major waste of coal-power generation and its management is a major environmental and economic challenge, and it will become even more critical with a projected increase in the reliance on coal for power generation. The authors discuss how th
Veeragathipillai, M., Yunusa, I.A., Loganathan, L., Lawrie, R., Skilbeck, G., Burchett, M., Murray, B. & Eamus, D. 2010, 'Assessments of Class F fly ashes for amelioration of soil acidity and their influence on growth and uptake of Mo and Se by canola', Fuel, vol. 89, no. 11, pp. 3498-3504.
View/Download from: UTS OPUS or Publisher's site
Coal fly ash can be used to ameliorate productivity constraints in agricultural soils, but their efficacy still remains highly variable. To ascertain the capacity of Class F fly ashes to modify pH of acidic soils, and their effects on the yield and uptake of molybdenum (Mo) and selenium (Se) by canola (Brassica napus L.), we applied two acidic and two alkaline Class F ashes at rates equivalent to 0, 12, 36, and 108 Mg/ ha to the top layer (0â10 cm) of 100 cm long intact cores of acidic sandy clay and clay loam soils. Only the alkaline ash which had the highest calcium carbonate equivalent (2.43%) increased the pH of the top 10 cm of the sandy clay soil. However, this ash was also highly saline and when applied at P36 Mg/ha it increased the electrical conductivity in the top soil layer. Increases in soil pH as a result of alkaline ash addition also elevated concentrations of Se in the plant shoot. The ashes with high concentrations of Mo and Se generally increased uptake of these elements in the plant shoot and/or seed. When these ashes were applied at 108 Mg/ha they increased the concentrations of these elements in the treated topsoil.
Yunusa, I.A., Burchett, M., Veeragathipillai, M., DeSilva, L., Eamus, D. & Skilbeck, G. 2009, 'Photosynthetic Pigment Concentrations, Gas Exchange and Vegetative Growth for Selected Monocots and Dicots Treated with Two Contrasting Coal Fly Ashes', Journal of Environmental Quality, vol. 38, no. 4, pp. 1466-1472.
View/Download from: UTS OPUS or Publisher's site
There is uncertainty as to the races of coal fly ash needed for optimum physiological processes and growth. In the current study we tested the hyothesis that photosynthetic pigments concentrations and CO2 assimilation (A) are more sensitive than dry weights in plants grown on media amended with coal fly ash. We applied the Terrestrial Plant Growth Test (Guideline 208) protocols of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) to monocots [barley (Hordeum vulgare) and ryegrass (Secale cereale)] and dicots [canola (Brasica napus), radish (Raphanus sativus), field peas (Pisum sativum), and lucerne (Medicago sativa)] on media amended with fly ashes derived from semi-bituminous (gray ash) or lignite (red ash) coals at rates of 0, 2.5, 5.0, 10, or 20 Mg ha(-1). The red ash had higher elemental concentrations and salinity than the gray ash. Fly ash addition had no significant effect on germination by any of the six species. At moderate rates (<= 10 Mg ha(-1)) both ashes increased (P < 0.05) growth rates and concentrations of chlorophylls a and b, but reduced carotenoid concentrations. Addition of either ash increased A in radish and transpiration in barley Growth rates and final dry weights were reduced for all of the six test species when addition rates exceeded 10 Mg ha(-1) for gray ash and 5 Mg ha(-1) for red ash. We concluded that plant dry weights, rather than pigment concentrations and/or instantaneous rates of photosynthesis, are more consistent for assessing subsequent growth in plants Supplied with fly ash. Copyright (C) 2009 by the American Society of Agronomy, Crop Science Society of America, and Soil Science Society of America. All rights reserved. No part of this periodical may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, or any information storage and retrieval system, without permission in writing from the publisher.
Muir, M.A., Yunusa, I.A., Burchett, M., Lawrie, R., Chan, K.Y. & Veeragathipillai, M. 2007, 'Short-term responses of two contrasting species of earthworms in an agricultural soil amended with coal fly-ash', Soil Biology & Biochemistry, vol. 39, no. 5, pp. 987-992.
View/Download from: UTS OPUS or Publisher's site
With the renewewd interest in the use of coal fly-ash for amendment of agricultural soils in Australia, we assessed how earthworms, as indicators of soil health, responded to this ameliorant. We assessed survival, weight, burrowing and elemntal concentrations for earthworms of a native unnamed Megascolecid species and exotic Aporrectodea trapezoides inintect soil cores treated with an alkaline fly-ash at rates aquivalent to 0, 5 and 25t/ha over 6 weeks. Fly ash did not affect survival, growth number of burrows created or phosphorous solubilisation. Transfer of the earthworms to the new environment having vastly different pH from where they were collected, and possibly overcrowding, caused mortality in the soil cores for all treatments. A.trapezoides that had smaller individuals suffered mortality by 0.24 (25% of their original weight) while those of A. trapezoides lot 0.18g each (21% of their original weight).The difference in growth between the two earhtworms was associated with grazing habit andprobably with the large differences in the pH which was more abundant in the fly-ash than the soil, compared with A. trapezoides that had elevated concentration of this metal.Extractable P in the soil was increased with noth species of earhtworms, more so with the exotic species that solubilised 11% more P than the native Megascolecids. The benign influence of fly-ash on survival and growth of worms was associated with the pH of soil remaining unchanged during the six weeks of incubation.
Yunusa, I.A., Eamus, D., De Silva, D.L., Murray, B., Burchett, M., Skilbeck, G. & Heidrich, C. 2006, 'Fly-ash: An exploitable resource for management of Australian agricultural soils', Fuel, vol. 85, no. 16, pp. 2337-2344.
View/Download from: UTS OPUS or Publisher's site
Agricultural soils in Australia have inherent limitations of structural and nutritional nature that pose major constraints to crop productivity. These soils are still productive due to intensive management that involves routine treatments with lime and g
Macfarlane, G.R., Pulkownik, A. & Burchett, M. 2003, 'Accumulation and distribution of heavy metals in the grey mangrove, Avicennia marina (Forsk.)Vierh.: biological indication potential', Environmental Pollution, vol. 123, no. 1, pp. 139-151.
View/Download from: UTS OPUS or Publisher's site


Yunusa, I.A., Veeragathipillai, M., Burchett, M., Eamus, D. & Skilbeck, G. Not applicable 2008, Utilisation of Coal Ash in Horticultural and Agricultural Ecosystems, pp. 1-111, Sydney, Australia.