Researcher biography

Associate Professor Luke Knibbs conducts research and teaching on the health effects of environmental risk factors, with a specific focus on air pollution and respiratory pathogens. Since 2019, he has been head of the Planetary Health & Health Protection Division, one of three academic divisions within the School of Public Health (SPH).


Luke is Associate Professor of Environmental Health, having originally joined SPH as a Lecturer in 2012. Prior to that, he completed his PhD on ultrafine particle exposure assessment in 2009, followed by 3 years' postdoctoral training at the International Laboratory for Air Quality and Health. He has a special interest in understanding the global burden of disease due to anthropogenic air pollution, and transmission of bacterial respiratory pathogens in bioaerosols among people with chronic lung disease.

He has a multidisciplinary educational background, spanning public health, atmospheric science, and exposure assessment. His research interests have been informed by that background.

Research interests

He leads a team of research students (PhD/MPhil/Honours), postdoctoral researchers and research assistants. They are interested in novel approaches aimed at improving exposure assessment and analytical methods in studies of air pollution, bioaerosols, and other relevant risk factors. They also have an interest in maternal and children's health, including prenatal exposures to air pollution and endocrine-disrupting chemicals and the respiratory effects of air pollution on children. An area of growing interest is the complex, potentially beneficial effects of residential greenspace, in longitudinal and cross-sectional studies, and its ability to modify or mediate the effects of air pollution.

The team's total research program spans individual-level experimental studies through to large-scale observational epidemiological investigations in Australia and overseas. They collaborate widely with leading local and international research groups in these research fields.

Research metrics

Luke has published >140 peer-reviewed journal articles in his career, and has been awarded AUD$9.5 million in competitive research funding as a chief investigator. He has (co-)supervised 11 PhD/MPhil and five Honours students to completion, and 13 MPH/MEpi coursework dissertations/projects.

Recognition and impact

Beyond traditional metrics, the work of his group and collaborators has been recognised for its substantial role in influencing policy, practice and/or public debate. For example, in 2018, he was a member of the team awarded the prestigious Eureka Prize for Infectious Diseases Research by the Australian Museum: "Awarded for outstanding infectious diseases research that benefits, or has the potential to benefit, human health". In 2016, he was awarded a Young Tall Poppy Science Award (QLD) by the Australian Institute of Policy & Science: "Chosen as one of Queensland's most outstanding scientists for achievements in the area of scientific research and communication".

Editorial roles

Luke is a section editor for two journals: International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health and Remote Sensing. He also serves on the editorial board of Atmospheric Environment.


Luke has taught at undergraduate and postgraduate level at UQ since 2013. He developed and co-ordinates PUBH3009 (Environmental Health) and ENVH7003 (Environmental Health Risks - Physical Hazards). He also contributes to PUBH7027 (Introduction to Environmental Health), and delivers guest lectures in the MD and MPH programs.

As a researcher and teacher, he is a keen proponent of research-informed teaching.