Chief Investigators

imageAssociate Professor Sarah Bekessy, RMIT

Sarah is interested in the intersection between science and policy in environmental management and is currently involved in an interdisciplinary range of research and consulting projects, including an ARC Future Fellowship titled ‘Socio-ecological models for environmental decision making’. Sarah leads the Interdisciplinary Conservation Science research group.

Sarah will have overall responsibility for the management of the project and research team. Sarah will ensure effective dissemination of findings across a range of platforms and audiences. Her interdisciplinary skills and experience are essential to the design, management and execution of this project from inception to completion

Sarah’s research interests include:

  • Threatened species management
  • Environmental decision analysis
  • Urban ecology
  • Population and landscape modelling
  • Education for sustainability
  • The role of science in environmental policy

richard fuller

Associate Professor Richard Fuller, University of Queensland

Richard Fuller is an Associate Professor and ARC Future Fellow at the University of Queensland. He studies how people have affected the natural world around them, and how some of their destructive effects can best be reversed.  Richard runs the Fuller Lab, whose focus is to answer these questions, the lab group works on pure and applied topics in biodiversity and conservation, focusing on the interactions between people and nature, how these can be enhanced, and how these relationships can be shaped to converge on coherent solutions to the biodiversity crisis. Richard will develop and execute the human well-being experiments in collaboration with Chief Investigator Maller.

Richard’s research interests include:

  • Urbanization on biodiversity and human quality
  • Investigating patterns of contagion in global habitat destruction
  • Expansion in Australia’s protected area system
  • Conservation of migratory shorebird populations.


Associate Professor Dieter Hocchuli, University of Sydney

Dieter runs the Integrative Ecology group at The University of Sydney. We use multiscale approaches to examine the mechanisms driving the ecology of a range of species, especially in novel ecosystems. Dieter’s research has changed our understanding of insect–plant interactions at multiple scales. My work shows how responses to local conditions by individual species can be scaled to enable an understanding of the ecology of these interactions, from landscape- and community-level perspectives. Most importantly, the work has been scaled up to understand how anthropogenic changes in systems modified by humans, identifying mechanisms driving change in these systems.

Dieter’s skills and experience with insects are fundamental for the development and execution of the biodiversity experiment , including the post-processing of collected insect material into primary data.

Dieter’s research interests include:

  • The ecology of terrestrial arthropods and their interactions with their environments
  • Community ecology
  • Landscape ecology


Dr. Fiona Fidler, RMIT

Fiona is a psychologist, with a PhD in philosophy of science. She’s interested in how scientists, experts and people in general make decisions.  She is currently a Senior Research Fellow in the Interdisciplinary Interdiscinplinary Conservation Science Research Group at RMIT University. Fiona’s expertise in methodology and experimental design in psychological and social research will allow her to aid in the design and execution of the human well-being experiments and to develop the necessary modelling frameworks to analyse the biodiversity and human well-being data.

Fiona’s research interests include:

  • Reproducibility, transparency and open science
  • Expert judgement, reasoning and decision making
  • Methodology change in science
  • Behavioural and institutional change
  • Research ethics and scientific integrity
  • Environmental Science and Management



Dr. Cecily Maller, RMIT

Cecily’s broader research interests focus on the social dimensions of health, wellbeing and sustainability, focusing on interactions between people and natural, built and social environments in the context of everyday life. Recent projects have focused on social practices involving energy and water use in migrant and ’green renovating’ households, with the aim of informing policy and moving beyond dominant rationalist and neo-liberal paradigms. Cecily has published widely on the health benefits of contact with nature, including as lead author on the Healthy Parks, Healthy People report (Parks Victoria 2002, 2008) and several highly cited journal articles. Cecily will apply her expertise to design and execute the human well-being experiments.

 Cecily’s research interests include:

  • Community sustainability (environmental/social)
  • Health and wellbeing
  • Climate change adaptation
  • People-environment relationships
  • Social practice

Dr. Ascelin Gordon, RMITimage3

Dr Ascelin Gordon was awarded a PhD in Particle Physics from the University of Melbourne but has moved into the interdisciplinary field of Conservation Science. His expertise which spans statistical modelling, simulation and complexity theory through to ecology, conservation biology, ecological modelling, urban planning and decision theory enables him to make a unique contribution to this emerging interdisciplinary field. Ascelin’s current research focuses on developing modelling approaches for understanding the impacts of environmental policies on biodiversity values in the landscape.  Ascelins’s skills will be key for the successful implementation of the experimental design  and for developing the necessary quantitative tools to analyse the project’s data.

Ascelin’s research interests include:

  • Conservation planning and spatial prioritisation
  • Dealing with uncertainties in conservation planning data
  • Setting priorities for conservation investment using ecological and economic theory;
  • Ecological populating modelling
  • Risk and decision-making for conservation
  • Conservation on private land and market based instruments for conservation
  • Agent based modelling.

image4Dr. Georgia Garrad, RMIT

Georgia is an ecologist and Postdoctoral Research Fellow in the Interdisciplinary Conservation Science Research Group at RMIT University. Her research has focussed on improving the conservation of biodiversity and she has previously worked on projects related to urban biodiversity conservation, imperfect detectability and informative Bayesian priors in ecology.  Georgia is interested in the human dimensions of biodiversity conservation and is currently involved in a range of interdisciplinary conservation projects, including an ARC Linkage Project investigating the biodiversity and human wellbeing benefits of urban green spaces.
Georgia’s specialist knowledge in structured decision-making and modelling the detectability of species will be instrumental in planning the biodiversity and human well-being experiments and in developing modelling data analysis techniques.

Georgia’s research interests include:

  • Urban biodiversity
  • conservation
  • Planning and biodiversity in urban environments
  • Native grassland conservation
  • Adaptive management
  • Structured decision making
  • Quantitative and applied ecology

Dr. Luis Mata, RMIT

Luis is a Research Fellow with the Interdisciplinary Conservation Science Research Group, in the School of Global, Urban and Social Studies at RMIT University. He works as part of the National Environmental Science Programme – Clean Air and Urban Landscapes Hub, where he contributes to The Shared Urban Habitat, a research project looking at addressing the broad question of how humans can effectively share the urban habitat with other species.

Luis is also conducting research for The Little Things that Run The City, an insect ecology and conservation project co-funded by the City of Melbourne and RMIT University’s Strategic Projects in Urban Research, which is exploring how Melbourne’s green spaces support insect biodiversity and ecosystem health. Luis’s experience with field protocols will be essential for the successful execution of the biodiversity experiments.

Luis’s research interests include:

  •  Protocols for bringing nature back into cities through reintroductions and ecological replacements.
  • Engaging people in research-oriented citizen science.
  • Biodiversity
  • Conservation

Associate professor Adrian Dyer, RMITimage5

Adrian is a vision scientist and photographer seeking to understand how the representation of an image is created, and can be used to interpret the complex world in which we live. Research interests centre on understanding how visual systems learn perceptually difficult tasks. This work involves both using human psychophysics and imaging studies, as well as experimenting with how the miniature brain of a bee can form visual representations to make decisions in complex environments. Adrian’s expertise in psychophysics and imaging studies will prove fundamental to the development of the ‘Eye Tracking Attention’ experiment.

Adrian’s research interests include:

  • Colour vision
  • Eye movements
  • Face recognition
  • Visual ecology and plant-pollinator interactions
  • Invisible spectrum imaging
  • High speed imaging
  • Information processing in insect brains
  • Forensic imaging

christophe-ives-e1369018890414Dr Christopher Ives, University of Nottingham

Chris Ives is an Assistant Professor in the School of Geography at the University of Nottingham. He is interested in understanding how people relate to their environment and how different social and ecological sciences can be used to make better decisions. To date, Chris has worked principally in Australian cities where his research has spanned the fields of ecology, geography, environmental policy and social psychology. He obtained his PhD from Macquarie University Sydney in 2012 and has since worked on various research projects at The University of Melbourne, RMIT University and Leuphana University in Germany. Chris’s interdsciplinary approach to understanding humanenvironment interactions in urban landscapes will be fundamental to develop the human well-being experimental protocols, including the field surveys

Christopher’s  research interests include:

  • Urban ecology and biodiversity
  • Environmental law and policy
  • Social values and attitudes
  • Sustainability science
  • Urban river and riparian management