The Earth is losing species and ecosystems fast, but figuring out the best response is not easy when information, time and money are scarce.
Dr Eve McDonald-Madden is using maths to help governments and others make tough decisions on how best to use limited resources to preserve ecosystems under threat.
The young Australian scientist helps to save species, not by going out into the field, but by analysing the data other people have collected on endangered species.
“I sit at a computer and use that data to find the best strategies for managing those species,” she says. “My research focuses on making faster, better conservation decisions by analysing the trade-offs between available dollars, our need for information, and the urgency of the conservation issue.
“We can’t delay hard choices,” she says.
Eve has already helped to develop and implement a policy for monitoring the Sumatran tiger to prevent poaching. She’s also come up with a strategy for managing Tasmanian devils under threat from an infectious facial tumour disease.
In April 2012 Eve spent a month in France improving her models by learning more about artificial intelligence.
She also worked with French colleagues to develop new strategies to manage the impacts of climate change.
Eve won a $20,000 L’Oréal Australia For Women in Science Fellowship in 2011, allowing her to undertake her work at France’s National Institute for Agricultural Research.