Dr van der Ent studies the behaviour of trace elements (Ni, Co, Cr, Mn, Cd, Pb, Zn and REE) in soil and plant systems, and has a specific interest in the application of phytotechnologies that utilise hyperaccumulator plants (phytomining).

Dr van der Ent is an ecologist and biogeochemist whose research focuses largely on tropical systems. Since October 2014, Dr van der Ent has been leading a research initiative on phytomining at the Centre for Mined Land Rehabilitation (CMLR) at The University of Queensland (UQ). He has project managed a number of other programs, including an International Mining for Development Centre (IM4DC)-funded research project on copper-cobalt hyperaccumulator plants in Zambia, and industry-funded research projects on nickel hyperaccumulator plants in Indonesia (Weda Bay nickel on Halmahera Island), and in Australia on metallophytes in Queensland (Lucknow scandium deposit) and New South Wales (Broken Hill). 

He has had the opportunity to study metallophytes and hyperaccumulator plants on four continents including in the Chilean Andes, the Copperbelt of Northern Zambia, Broken Hill in Australia, Borneo, Sulawesi, Halmahera and New Guinea in the Asia-Pacific Region, South Africa, New Caledonia and various countries in Europe. 

Dr van der Ent is associate advisor of three PhD students, and principal supervisor for one PhD student with projects in the field of nickel hyperaccumulation and phytomining. Previously he has also supervised an MSc student with a project on validating X-ray Fluorescence (XRF) for in situ measurement of trace elements in soil matrices.

The French-German film production company ARTE produced a full-length documentary about the research on phytomining undertaken by his team that was broadcast globally in January 2017.

Dr van der Ent obtained his PhD from UQ in 2014. Since then, he has been appointed to a joint postdoctoral position between UQ and the Université de Lorraine, France (UL), and since 2016 on a ARC Discovery Early Career Researcher Award (DECRA).


The potential of Zambian copper-cobalt hyperaccumulator plants for phytoremediation of polluted (mining/smelter) soils 
International Mining for Development Centre (IM4DC) 2014–2015

Development of Nickel Phytomining at Weda Bay
Eramet 2015

Scandium biogeochemistry at the Lucknow Laterite Plateau, Queensland, Australia.
Metallica Minerals Ltd 2014

Metallophytes at the Operations of Perilya Broken Hill, NSW
Perilya Ltd. 2010


Dr van der Ent maintains a strong network of active collaborations across Australia and internationally; this is evidenced in his publications with collaborators, and in his role as coordinator of the International Serpentine Ecology Society.


Dr van der Ent is the recipient of an ARC Discovery Early Career Researcher Award (DECRA) with research focussed on the biopathways of nickel in hyperaccumulator plants. He was also awarded a UQ Early Career Researcher award in 2017 to support his research.

Analysis of the distribution and translocation of foliar-applied Zn in leaf tissues
(2017) Australian Synchrotron Access Program

Translating ecophysiological insights into application of nickel phytomining in Australia
(2017) UQ Early Career Researcher

Unravelling nickel biopathways in tropical hyperaccumulator plants
(2016–2018) ARC Discovery Early Career Researcher Award

Confocal volumetric XANES to reveal As chemical state and distribution in different cell types within intact Pteris vittata fronds
(2016) Australian Synchrotron Access Program (ANSTO)

Elucidating the Ni and Zn biopathways during seed germination in differential ecotypes of Noccaea caerulescens
(2016) Australian Synchrotron Access Program (ANSTO)

Revealing nickel biopathways in the roots of hyperaccumulating and nonhyperaccumulating genotypes of Senecio coronatus with 6XRF tomography and confocal XAS
(2016) Australian Synchrotron Access Program (ANSTO)

The potential of Zambian copper-cobalt hyperaccumulator plants for phytoremediation of polluted (mining/smelter) soils
(2014–2015) University of Western Australia