School of Geography, Earth Science and Environment


Dr. Stephen Galvin

Contact Information:

E-mail: stephen.galvin(at)
Phone: +679 323 2845
Office: Room 11, SGESE Building, Lower Campus


Personal Profile:

At USP since January 2015, Stephen’s research focuses on Biogeography, specifically the use of dendrochronology (tree-rings) as a means of understanding and contextualising environmental change. Tree-rings are one of the most valuable sources of proxy data due to the high resolution at which they record and reflect environmental variables. Stephen’s research has examined the impact of low-latitude and Icelandic volcanic eruptions on tree growth and climate. He has published on the benefits associated with using Taxus baccata (yew) in tree-ring research, the impact of volcanic eruptions on temperature regimes, and the positive impact of Iceland volcanic eruptions on tree-growth in Ireland. 

At SGESE, Stephen is course coordinator for GE101 Introduction to Physical Geography, GE201 Introduction to Biogeography and Ethnobiology, and GE301 Applied Pacific Island Biogeography and Ethnobiology. These courses all include field trips where students have the opportunity to get hands-on experience in data gathering methodologies, analysis, and interpretation, each of which is an important step in training the environmental scientists, geographers, and teachers of the future. Stephen is also heavily involved in the USP’s Science Teacher Accelerated Programme, which included a visit to the Tonga campus in October 2017. The aim of the programme is to upgrade the qualifications of secondary school science teachers throughout the South Pacific.

Research Interests

Stephen is a co-investigator of the SRT funded "Structure and dynamics of Viti Levu's montane rainforests under impact of invasive alien Ivory cane palm (Pinanga coronata)". Here he is investigating the impact invasive P. coronata has on productivity and tree growth by examining tree-ring samples from Swietenia macrophylla (Mahogany) in Colo-i-Suva. Stephen is also a member of a research group developing a mobile app to be used, via citizen science, as a global early warning system for forest decline, involving experts from Germany, UK, USA, Australia, France, Belgium, Malaysia, Guatemala, Spain, Brazil, Argentina, and South Africa. In 2017, Stephen spent some time in Germany; firstly, in January, he was an exchange participant at Georg-August Universitaet Goettingen as part of the DAAD Higher Education Partnership on "Biodiversity in education and assessment in the SW Pacific", where he received training in identifying, interpreting, and measuring tree ring samples collected as part of the aforementioned SRT project; secondly, in June, Stephen was an invited participant at the global forest decline expert workshop “Crossing scales and disciplines to identify global trends in tree mortality as an indicator of forest health” which took place in Hanover. Stephen is also co-author of a United Nations University-led publication (in prep. – Dec. 2017) assessing ecosystem approaches to reducing disaster risks. Here, he wrote the section reviewing links between forests/forest fires and productive functions of ecosystems for disaster risk reduction (DRR).

Selected Publications

Sudmeier-Rieux, K, Boehmer, HJ, Casteller, A … Galvin, S et al. (in prep) Assessing ecosystem approaches to reducing disaster risks: a global review.

Cawley, M and Galvin, S (2016) Irish migration and return: continuities and changes over time. Irish Geography, 49: 1, 11-27.

Galvin, S, Potito, A, and Hickey, K (2014) Evaluating the dendroclimatological potential of Taxus baccata (yew) in southwest Ireland. Dendrochronologia 32: 2, 144-152.

Galvin, S. (2012) Using urban areas as field sites for physical geography – a case study examining weathering in Galway City. Geographical Viewpoint 40, 28-29.

Galvin, S, Hickey, K, and Potito, A (2011) Identifying volcanic signals in Irish temperature observations since A.D. 1800. Irish Geography 44: 1, 97-110.


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Page updated: Tuesday, December 19, 2017
School of Geography, Earth Science and Environment
Faculty of Science, Technology & Environment
The University of the South Pacific
Private Bag, Laucala Campus,
Suva, Fiji.
Tel: (+679) 323 2542
Fax: (+679) 323 1506