Study level


Master of Philosophy


Vacation research experience scheme


Science and Engineering Faculty

School of Mathematical Sciences

Topic status

We're looking for students to study this topic.


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


Many ecosystems around the world can't withstand the stress of climate change with their decline being rapid and ongoing. New technologies must be developed to conserve these threatened ecosystems. This need poses a new mathematical challenge, as no methods exist to select and develop new conservation technologies that will secure ecosystems into the future.

Technology development usually has two phases:

  • choosing what technologies to develop
  • making a distinct choice years later about how the technologies will be deployed.

Better and more cost-efficient choices now will result in better outcomes for biodiversity when the technologies are eventually deployed. Optimal choices will require advanced mathematical approaches because of the uniquely complex challenges of research and development of new technologies for biodiversity conservation.

A full scholarship from the supervisor (commensurate with Australian Postgraduate Award funding level and benefits) is available for this project if undertaken at a PhD level. This opportunity is open to both international and domestic applications.

Research activities

In this project, we'll construct mathematical frameworks that can guide the development of new technologies in an optimal way to achieve the best outcomes for limited resources.

Techniques used will include:

  • game theory
  • ecological modelling
  • stochastic dynamic programming
  • spatial integer programming.

We'll draw tools and theory from:

  • operations research
  • optimisation
  • ecological modelling
  • economics.

As part of the project you'll be a member of the Applied Mathematical Ecology group where you will receive mentoring, professional development and a local, discipline-based research network.


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

Skills and experience

To be considered for this project, it's essential that you have:

  • strong quantitative skills
  • the ability to collaborate and communicate with non-mathematicians
  • programming skills, preferably in R, or an interest in developing these skills
  • undergraduate studies in either:
    • mathematics
    • statistics
    • computer science
    • economics
    • quantitative ecology
    • any related discipline.

An interest in and an aptitude for the areas listed in the research activities is desirable, but expertise can be developed throughout the course of the 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.

All students, particularly those from underrepresented groups, are encouraged to contact the supervisor with any questions about the research environment before applying.


You may be able to apply for a research scholarship in our annual scholarship round.

Annual scholarship round



Contact the supervisor for more information.