Study level

  • PhD
  • Master of Philosophy
  • Honours
  • Vacation research experience scheme


Topic status

We're looking for students to study this topic.

Research centre


Dr Kate Helmstedt
Research Fellow (DECRA)
Division / Faculty
Faculty of Science


There are limited funds available for saving threatened species globally. Investing that money wisely can help ecologists and the government achieve more bang for their buck, and help more species and ecosystems.

We can use many approaches  to help guide those investment decisions, including mathematical optimisation and operations research. However better considerations of economic factors are needed in order to reflect the complexity of real ecosystems and governments.

Research activities

In this project, we'll explore ways we can build known complexities into mathematical approaches to guide species conservation decision-making.

We will consider dynamic systems with high levels of uncertainty, as well as complex interacting social, environmental, and financial elements. You'll draw from your mathematical skillset, as well as skills and knowledge you develop over the course of the project.

You'll be supported and mentored as part of the dynamic and diverse Applied Mathematical Ecology Group.


This project has the potential to lead to academic publications in addition to report or thesis requirements appropriate for your study level. Depending on your interest, collaboration with external partners will be encouraged and those collaborative relationships will be an explicit outcome of the project.

Skills and experience

Candidates must have, or be undertaking, a degree in:

  • mathematics
  • statistics
  • IT
  • engineering
  • science, with some quantitative elements
  • any related degree with sufficient quantitative components.

You're also required to have:

  • an interest in mathematics
  • excellent written and oral communication skills
  • the desire to talk to people (and not just mathematicians) about your work.

While not required, it's desirable if you have programming skills in any language and an interest in ecology or the environment. You don't need to know much about species or ecosystems, but you must be keen to learn.

Please contact the supervisor to discuss whether your experience is sufficient for this project.

We particularly welcome applications for groups that are underrepresented in STEM, including:

  • women
  • students who identify as Indigenous Australians
  • students who identify as people of colour.


You may be eligible to apply for a research scholarship.

Explore our research scholarships


Contact the supervisor for more information.