Current Members

Alannah Filer, PhD Candidate

My research focuses on the conservation of the threatened ‘acid frogs’ of eastern Australia using both acoustic and spatial techniques at varying scales. Using spatial mapping I am working on describing the current distribution of the acid frogs, as well as making predictions about the possible effects of future climate and land use changes. Additionally, I use long term acoustic recording devices to monitor the success of important populations of these species. It is my hope that my research on developing and testing new acoustic monitoring techniques will help inform future management programs for these, and other, threatened frog species.

Alex Watkins, PhD Candidate

Alex is a PhD student working with Professor Jonathan Rhodes and Dr Laura Sonter in the Centre for Biodiversity and Conservation Science at The University of Queensland. He received an undergraduate degree in Mathematics and Philosophy, and a Master of Environment degree from Griffith University, where his thesis focused on the impacts climate change is having on koalas in Brisbane.

His current work will focus on developing new knowledge on the consequences of interregional flows of the benefits of people receive from natural ecosystems for the global distribution of ecosystem service benefits. The project will also attempt to deliver novel approaches for predicting the global distribution of ecosystem service benefits under alternative land use scenarios and policy settings in a highly connected world.

Anazelia Tedesco, PhD Candidate

Anazelia is interested in the science-policy interface, as well as in environmental governance designed to make links between science and society. Her work, supervised by Prof Jonathan Rhodes, Prof Hugh Possingham, Dr. Angela Dean, and Prof Pedro Brancalion, focuses on promoting secondary forest persistence in the Atlantic Forest, improving large-scale forest restoration through natural regeneration. As part of Anazelia’s PhD, she is working in collaboration with several organisations such as The Nature Conservancy, World Resources Institute-Brazil, WWF-Brazil, Espirito Santo Government, and the University of Sao Paulo.

Brooke Williams, Postdoctoral Research Fellow

My research interests are in finding solutions to challenging problems that balance conservation objectives with human needs. My PhD at the University of Queensland focussed on assessing the state of intact or under-developed landscapes and how to plan for their conservation considering competing objectives. I’ve been lucky to work on several conservation and planning projects globally and across Australia, Central and South America, and Africa with various conservation groups including the Wildlife Conservation Society, The Nature Conservancy, and the International Institute for Sustainability Australia. I am now working as a postdoctoral researcher with the Sustainable Landscapes Group focusing on private land conservation, modelling and improving decision making considering ecosystem service flows.

Chris O'Bryan, Postdoctoral Research Fellow

I have a background in spatial ecology, landscape-scale conservation, and decision science ranging from studying reptile movement patterns and habitat selection to working on private land management practices and making structured environmental decisions. I finished my PhD at the University of Queensland in 2019 investigating the exposure and contribution of carnivores to humans. I have written about the unrecognised benefits of predators and scavengers in human-dominated landscapes and the unique contribution of apex scavengers to ecosystems and human health. Since the completion of my PhD, I have worked as a postdoctoral researcher with the Sustainable Landscapes Group and the McMadLab focusing on helping management organisations make decisions to maximise their resources for effective conservation.

Deqiang Ma, PhD Candidate

My PhD research focuses on 1) methods to design ecosystem services offsets, 2) impacts of accounting for the supply of ecosystem services on the spatial location of biodiversity offsetting solutions, and 3) impacts of accounting for social equity in access to ecosystem services on the spatial location of biodiversity offsetting solutions. I am a PhD student in interested in  how including ecosystem services considerations might change biodiversity offsetting policies in coastal environments. My PhD focuses on issues following that, 1) how to design ecosystem services offsets, 2) how does accounting for the supply of ecosystem services change the spatial location of biodiversity offsetting solutions, and 3) how does accounting for social equity in access to ecosystem services change the spatial location of biodiversity offsetting solutions.

Erik Nielsen

Erik is a joint PhD Student at the University of Queensland and University of Exeter, Great Britain with a background in Economics and Finance at Maastricht University and Nova School of Business and Economics, Lisbon.

His current work focuses on the intersection of global trade and the environment. Specifically, he inspects how environmental policies that infer land-use changes impact global trade flows and how these trade flows impact (environmental) welfare outcomes. Furthermore, he desires to inspect different scenarios where he compares trade flows and welfare outcomes depending on whether policies are made in isolation (one country), region-wide or globally. His research will help policy makers make more informed decisions.

Frankie Cho, PhD Candidate

Frankie’s PhD project investigates how to make natural capital decisions under uncertainty. Drawing upon the fields of environmental economics and ecology, this project characterises the uncertainties arising from coupled ecological and economic models and identifies efficient spatial landscape configurations to provide ecosystem services. His work, supervised by Prof Brett Day (University of Exeter) and Prof Jonathan Rhodes, is part of the Joint PhD program between the University of Exeter (UK) and the University of Queensland supported by the QUEX Institute.

Jaramar Villarreal Rosas, Research Assistant

My research uses ecosystem services thinking to explore how human well-being is impacted by changes to natural capital. I am particularly interested in understanding how different groups in society are impacted, and the social and economic factors behind it. Through my research I am developing spatially-explicit approaches to provide with equitable solutions for people and nature.

Jonathan Rhodes, Professor & ARC Future Fellow

​Jonathan is based in the School of Earth and Environmental Sciences and the Centre for Biodiversity and Conservation Science at The University of Queensland (UQ). He received his PhD in Ecology in 2005 and has been at UQ since 2007, after two years at CSIRO Marine and Atmospheric Research, Hobart before that. His primary research interests lie in understanding the spatial processes that drive biodiversity and ecosystem services, and developing fundamental principles for decision-making in conservation.

Konrad Uebel, PhD Candidate

My PhD research focusses on i) factors that might influence private land conservation actions of peri-urban landholders, ii) the restorative potential of urban and peri-urban park soundscapes and the impact of traffic noise on this, and iii) natural and urban landscape characteristics surrounding urban and peri-urban parks and their influence on park soundscapes.

Mariana Damasco de Britto

Mariana's main interest is to use science to support complex conservation issues and strategies, especially related to protected areas management and ecology. She graduated in Forest Engineering at the University of Brasília, and she is currently finishing her Master's degree in Conservation Science at The University of Queensland. Her project, supervised by Professor Jonathan Rhodes and Brooke Williams, focus on assessing the risk of koala habitat loss in NSW, integrating social willingness to adept covenant in private properties to identify essential opportunities for koala conservation.

Nanda Kaji Budhathoki

I have a research background in environmental economics, climate change adaptation, and behavioural economics. I completed PhD in Agriculture and Environmental Economics from Charles Darwin University in 2020. I designed and set up an index-based agricultural insurance premium rate against multiple risks as a risk mitigation strategy in my PhD research. Additionally, I explored farmers’ knowledge of and risk perceptions towards three extreme events whose frequency, duration, and intensity will increase with climate change, how they are affected by, on a personal and farming level, and how they chose to adapt and identify socio-economic and psychological factors that affect farmers’ choices and intensity of intended adaptation. The research reduced the risk of these events to the farming community by identifying and implementing innovative and sustainable farming adaptation and mitigation measures. Recently, I have joined Sustainable Landscape Group as a postdoctoral research fellow, where I will focus on identifying, developing and implementing how social science and economic components drive landholders’ engagement in private land conservation and how climate-related extreme events, including wildfires and drought, will affect landholders’ adoption on private land conservation by integrating economic, environmental and social data modelling. This research supports innovative and efficient climate-resilient private land conservation initiatives.

Nisa Abeysinghe, PhD Candidate

My research focuses on tackling pests using game theory to support cooperative management. It aims on improving management of invasive species by helping pest mitigating agencies work together. A novel framework is designed using game theory, ecology and spatial distribution to identify how and when pest mitigation agencies collaborate to get optimum agricultural and environmental outcomes.

Shantala Brisbane, PhD Candidate

Shantala is a Research Assistant for the Sustainable Landscapes Group. She has a BSc (Hons) in marine biology and ecology. After working in environmental consulting for a number of years she has more recently worked in research coordination / management and research assistant roles (including marine and coastal restoration, coastal wetland dieback, and research infrastructure requirements in ecosystem science). She is particularly interested in marine and coastal conservation.

Shu Chen, PhD Candidate

I am a passionate conservationist and started my professional career in 2010. I have a substantial career focus on threatened species conservation, human-wildlife coexistence, and environmental advocacy. My Ph.D. project focuses on developing effective communication strategies for species conservation, i.e., koalas, with collaborations with a wide range of stakeholders. This interdisciplinary research, particularly, would deploy social sciences to understand the motivations and barriers of private landowners to engage in sustainability management and what approaches effectively lead to conservation favoured decision-making.

Sofia Lopez Cubillos, Postdoctoral Research Fellow

Sofía is a biologist and holds a PhD in environmental management from the University of Queensland. Her research interests are focused on assessing the trade-offs between agricultural production and biodiversity conservation using ecosystem services. By integrating benefit-cost data with systematic conservation planning she has explored how to prioritise the maintenance of ecosystem services at different scales (i.e., local – pollination, national – carbon sequestration and water supply) in agricultural landscapes. The main outcome of her research is to provide frameworks to support policy-makers and spatial planners. She joined the Rhodes Sustainable Landscapes Group in 2021 to explore how flows of ecosystem services derived from global trade can have consequences on local ecosystem services.

Violeta Berdejo-Espinola, PhD Candidate

I am an interdisciplinary scientist currently exploring the ecology in cities and pursuing questions around the ways humans benefit from nature under the current pressures of rapid urbanisation and other global changes. Supervised by Prof Richard Fuller, Prof Jonathan Rhodes, and Dr Felipe Suárez Castro, my PhD research specifically explores the spatial distribution of urban green spaces across the globe and also human-nature interaction in cities.

I have extensive research interests and am working as a Research Technician on the translatE project led by Dr Tatsuya Amano, where we are seeking to understand how language barriers impede the application of science in conservation decision making and to assess the importance of scientific knowledge that is available in non-English languages.