'As the global population continues to grow and the climate becomes hotter and drier, we have the dual challenge of providing food and water security and reversing environmental damage.'

Professor Kerrie Wilson at Binna Burra

The spark

'I have long been fascinated by nature, and deeply concerned about the impacts of humans on the environment. I grew up on a property adjoining the Wet Tropics World Heritage Area, and my family spent many days camping and hiking in Australia’s stunning national parks.'

Research aim

'To improve environmental decision-making, grow the next generation of environmental scientists, develop solutions to real world environmental problems and help government and society deliver on the United Nations sustainable development goals.'

Real-world implications

'For all levels of government worldwide, protection of biodiversity and restoration of degraded land is key to delivering biodiversity, economic, and social co-benefits alongside climate change mitigation. Through my involvement in advisory bodies such as the Australian Heritage Council and the UNESCO Australian National Commission, I can help ensure that decisions and directions of government at all levels are based on the best available science and expert knowledge that we have in Australia in the natural sciences.'

The challenge

'Standardised, scalable, and accessible data on the multi-layered benefits of restoration at a scale relevant to the landholder and other stakeholders would help balance agricultural production with restoration of degraded areas.'

Professor Wilson addressing her colleagues

Teaching

'The most satisfying part of my job is helping transform students with a passion for nature and science into environmental professionals with the skills and knowledge to set the world on a sustainable path. I have had the privilege of supervising and mentoring dozens of brilliant PhD, Masters and Honours students, who have gone on to high-level research and management roles in universities, government agencies and NGOs.'

Key collaborators

'Solving complex environmental problems requires extensive collaboration across research organisations, government, industry, and community. Working together allows us to combine different skills and perspectives to produce innovative solutions, as well as increase the chance of having an impact.'

  • University of Queensland
  • University of Copenhagen
  • Australian Research Council's Special Research Initiative for Excellence in Antarctic Science
  • Monash University
  • James Cook University

Key publications

Wilson, K. A., M. McBride, M. Bode and H. P. Possingham. 2006. Prioritising global conservation efforts. Nature. 440:337-340. http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/nature04366

Wilson, K. A., M. Lulow, J. Burger, Y.-C. Fang, C. Andersen, D. Olson, M. O’Connell and M. F. McBride. 2011. Optimal restoration: Accounting for space, time and uncertainty. Journal of Applied Ecology. 48: 715-725. http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/j.1365-2664.2011.01975.x

Wilson, K. A., Auerbach, N. A., Sam, K., Magini, A. G., Moss, A., Langhans, S. D., Budiharta, S., Terzano, D. and Meijaard, E. 2016. Conservation research is not happening where it is most needed. PLOS Biology. 14(3): e1002413 http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pbio.1002413

News

QUT researchers head to Antarctica

Professor Kerrie Wilson will be part of the leadership team for a new research program and has brought together QUT’s top experts from environmental conservation, data science, mathematical modelling, decision science, machine learning and robotics.

You can do more to help save the reef

Many Australians do not know what they can individually do to make a difference to the health of the World Heritage-listed Great Barrier Reef (GBR), according to a survey led by QUT researchers.

Catapulting creativity into real-world solutions

Research looking at how textile waste could be turned into materials for next-generation batteries is one of the projects backed in the latest round of the QUT’s Institute for Future Environments (IFE) Catapult program.