I use decision theory and operations research to improve the outcomes achieved for biodiversity from conservation management.
Ecological systems are incredibly complex, and changing how those systems interact and evolve can have unexpected implications. I build mathematical models of coupled ecological, land-use, and economic systems to understand the mechanisms driving success, failure, and efficiency of management actions. My aim is to understand the mechanisms driving our pressures on the environment, and use that knowledge to help guide better decisions to reduce the negative effects on biodiversity.
We can achieve better outcomes for the environment and society when we plan better management and policy using mathematics. We can be careful, transparent, and defensible in our biodiversity conservation while acknowledging deep complexities and risks.
I am an Australian Research Council Discovery Early Career Award (DECRA) Fellow and Senior Lecturer in the School of Mathematical Sciences at Queensland University of Technology (QUT). I co-lead the Applied Mathematical Ecology Group, which is a diverse and dynamic group of like-minded researchers in the QUT Maths department at all career stages. I am a Chief Investigator and theme leader for two major strategic research centres at QUT: Centre for the Environment, and Centre for Data Science.
Previously I was a postdoctoral researcher in the Potts Research Group at University of California Berkeley, where I studied land use change in developing nations. My PhD was supervised by Hugh Possingham at the University of Queensland (UQ). I have continuing collaborations throughout Australia and the United States focussing on Antarctic ecosystems, the Great Barrier Reef, and island conservation, as well as threatened and invasive species management.
Follow me on twitter @katejhelms.