PhD (UniSA); BEc (Hons) (Adelaide)


Sarah Wheeler is a Professor of Water Economics at the University of Adelaide. Sarah’s research interests focus on issues with the environment, agriculture, natural resources, climate change, water markets, food and health. In particular Sarah has spent considerable time influencing and engaging with national water policy issues in Australia (primarily water issues in the Murray-Darling Basin) and she is one of the leading researchers in the world on water markets. One of her key research focuses at present seeks to understand the behavioural implications of various policies to address resource issues, and the reciprocal relationship that exists between attitudes and behaviour, especially in relation to climate change. 

Sarah has served as an associate editor for Water Resources and Economics, a guest editor for Agricultural Water Management, and is a current editor of the Australian Journal of Agricultural and Resource Economics, Water Conservation Science & Engineering and the Australasian Journal of Water Resources. She holds five editorial board positions; and held an ARC Future Fellowship from 2014-2018 (where she was selected as one of two to represent the Fellowship at the scheme’s launch). She has won extensive international and national grants, as well as having conducted extensive media engagement; was an expert invited witness evidence at several Senate and parliament hearings and the SA Murray-Darling Basin Royal Commission, and in 2017 she was awarded the Quality of Research Communication Award by Australian Agricultural and Resource Economics Society (AARES). In January 2019 Sarah was invited to join the Australian Academy of Science's fish kill panel, and was one of the panel members that presented the findings and recommendations in Parliament. In February 2019 she was voted President-elect of AARES, and is the current President for 2020.

In addition to her work on water and farming policy within Australia having a national impact, Sarah's research program on farmer behaviour and water is having an impact globally. For example, in the past ten years, Prof Wheeler has worked on issues concerning Australia, USA, Canada, China, England, India, Zimbabwe, Mozambique, Tanzania, Fiji, Vanuatu, Bangladesh, New Zealand and Pakistan. She has consulted for the World Bank and the United Nations (UNECE), plus conducted work for the Ian Potter and Myer Foundations, ACCC, Murray-Darling Basin Authority, National Water Commission, Federal Department of Environment, Federal Department of Agriculture and Water Resources, to name but a few. 

2018 Professor, University of Adelaide

2015 Associate Professor, University of Adelaide

2014 Associate Professor Applied Economics, ARC Future Fellow UniSA

2010 Senior Research Fellow

2006 Research Fellow, University of South Australia

2020-2022: Wheeler (CI), Grafton, Nauges - Australian Research Council Discovery Award: Consequences of water reform & changing farm adaptation in the Basin

2018: ANU’s Crawford Leadership Forum selection

2017: Quality of Research Communication Award from AARES

2014-2018: Wheeler ARC Future Fellowship: Adapting for an uncertain future: farmer behaviour in water-stressed basins

2014-2016: Wheeler (lead CI), et al. - ARC Discovery: Transitioning to a water secure future

2009-2012: Wheeler (lead CI), Bjornlund, Shanahan - ARC Linkage, MDBA, GMW, NSW DEW, DSE, Uni. Lethbridge: Improving water market outcomes through a better understanding of market behaviour

1. Wheeler, S., Carmody, E., Grafton, R., Kingsford, R., & Zuo, A. (2020). “The rebound effect on water extraction from subsidising irrigation infrastructure in Australia.” Resources, Conservation and Recycling, 159, 1-17.

2. Wheeler, S. A., Xu, Y., & Zuo, A. (2020) “Modelling the climate, water and socio-economic drivers of farmer exit in the Murray-Darling Basin”. Climatic Change, 158, 551-574.

3. Zuo A, Qiu F & Wheeler S. (2019) "Examining volatility dynamics, spillovers and government water recovery in water markets in the Murray-Darling Basin”, Resource and Energy Economics, 58, 101113. 

4. Nauges, C., & Wheeler, S. (2017) “The complex relationship between households’ climate change concerns and their water and energy mitigation behaviour.” Ecological Economics, 141, 87-94. 

5. Zuo A., Wheeler S., Boxall P., Adamowicz V., Hatton-MacDonald D. (2016) “Measuring price elasticities of demand and supply of water entitlements based on stated and revealed preference data.” American Journal of Agricultural Economics, 98, 314-332.