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. Carefully, transparently, and defensibly planning management and policy interventions while acknowledging those complexities and the associated risks helps achieve better outcomes for the environment and society.
I am a Lecturer in the School of Mathematical Sciences at Queensland University of Technology (QUT). Previously I was a postdoctoral researcher in the Potts Research Group at University of California Berkeley, where I worked on land use change in developing nations. My PhD was supervised by Hugh Possingham at the University of Queensland (UQ). My aim is to understand the economic mechanisms causing land-use change, and use that knowledge to help guide better decisions to reduce the negative effects on biodiversity. I also have continuing collaborations throughout Australia and the United States focussing on island conservation, as well as threatened and invasive species management.
Follow me on twitter @katejhelms.