Dr Harris’ principal research interests are in the areas of conservation management and climate change impacts on natural and human systems. Recent research has focused on the impact of climate variability and extreme events on natural ecosystems and the adaptability of species and humans to change. This research has been applied to conservation management, emergency services (bushfire preparedness), agriculture (biosecurity, viticulture), and adaptation in the ski industry. She is a lead author on the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Sixth Assessment Report, Working Group II.
Dr Harris is currently the lead researcher on the projects: An assessment of the viability of prescribed burning as a management tool under a changing climate. Funded by the National Disaster Resilience Grants Program, 2016 and the Tasmanian Bushfire Mitigation Grants Program, 2018; Australia’s wine future – adapting to short-term climate variability and long-term climate change, 2016-2019. Funded by the Australian Grape and Wine Authority.
She is involved in a range of projects investigating changes to native and invasive species distributions; shifts in growing season and phenology, and changing fire fuel loads under future climate change in Tasmania and south-eastern Australia. She is currently working on methods to improve the application of climate science to ecological research and adaptation responses by incorporating the high frequency and seasonal information available in regional climate projections with species-specific biological information. She has ongoing collaborations in Germany investigating the impact of compounding extreme events on biodiversity and ecosystem structure and function.