Interested in joining us as an Honours, Masters or PhD student? Contact Dr. Rebecca Runting at Please provide a description of your research interests, along with your academic transcript (preliminary OK) and CV showing any technical skills, research experience and publications you may have.


Dr Jessie Wells - Postdoctoral Research Fellow

Jessie is a post-doctoral researcher working on ecosystem services and landscape planning in Northern Australia and the island of Borneo.

Her research on rangelands in Northern Australia models the impacts of land management on watershed ecosystem services (soil erosion and suspended sediments), under a range of possible futures for global economic and environmental change from 2020 to 2050. This forms the ‘water’ component of Dr. Runting’s integrated systems model for northern Australian rangelands. The integrated systems model seeks to understand the impacts of management actions on hydrology, threatened species, carbon storage, fire dynamics, and livestock production, and how land use decisions can integrate uncertain changes in the global economy and climate.

Her research in Kalimantan, Indonesian Borneo, focuses on understanding flows of ecosystem services (especially freshwater), local people's perceptions and needs for these services, and landscape planning for multiple objectives including biodiversity conservation, ecosystem services and equitable development.


Current Students

Steven Myburgh - PhD Student

Steven’s PhD surrounds landholder management on grazing properties in the northern Australian savanna region, examining the nexus between invasive Gamba Grass, anthropogenic fire regime and climate change futures. Applied methods will be interdisciplinary: firstly, climatic and ecological parameters, partly derived from expert elicitation, will inform a spatially explicit bio-economic scenario model; this will then be complemented by an agent-based model based on land user survey and interview results. Included in the model will be the potential impact of fire exclusion (and associated lengthened fire return intervals), as a tool to control Gamba Grass and conserve certain biodiversity taxa – this will test the application of a Payment for Ecosystem Services premium in a land sharing context.


Ryan Schoenbaum - PhD Student

Ryan’s research aims to advance methods in conservation planning to account for processes that connect terrestrial and marine ecosystems in the context of climate change. His PhD project in the Burdekin region promotes the resilience of the Great Barrier Reef by integrating multiple objectives (water quality, biodiversity, and carbon sequestration) into a spatial optimization framework. The collaborative nature of his research links efforts from a variety of institutions and stakeholders to guide management actions that maximize mutual benefit across land and sea realms.

Ryan holds a BS in Aquatic Biology from UC Santa Barbara and a MS in Marine and Watershed Science from CSU Monterey Bay. He was the 2018 CSU-COAST intern for the California Department of Fish and Wildlife and has experience in resource management through partnerships with the Bureau of Land Management.


Zhi Liu - PhD Student

Zhi's research project is to explore the potential inequity issues across groups under different sea-level rise scenarios in Ningbo, China, namely, whether certain groups with more socio-economic advantage and groups with less ability to deal with risks will suffer different consequence of sea level rise in Ningbo. After simulating the different extreme sea-levels, this research will first identify where and what are exposed to the risks of inundation. The change of spatial accessibility and mobility induced by sea level rise between different social groups (i.e., education level, age, income level) will then be investigated based on ArcGIS and in-depth interviews. It is expected that the results of this research could help policy-makers tailor actions which can benefits all groups in responding to sea level rise.


Carolina Mayen Huerta - PhD Student

Carolina is interested in examining access to and quality of urban green spaces in Mexico City, and their effect on well-being outcomes. Carolina's research starts by evaluating whether there is an unequal distribution of green spaces in the city, according to the socioeconomic status of neighborhoods. The first part of the study uses the network analysis in ArcGIS and is disaggregated by the functional level of the greenspace to provide specific information on the type of greenspace deficit. Once access levels have been established, the research will determine which variables encourage the use of green spaces and are perceived as indicators of quality by users through a survey. After, the relationship between access to and quality of greenspaces with wellbeing indicators will be determined through in-depth interviews. Carolina's research will conclude the analysis by evaluating the negative implications of revitalizing and building these spaces in low-income neighborhoods, more specifically gentrification patterns.


Past Students

Sofía López-Cubillos - PhD Student

Sofía's PhD uses systematic conservation planning to prioritize the conservation of ecosystem services at different scales (i.e. local – pollination, national – carbon sequestration and water supply) in agricultural landscapes. The main outcome is to provide a framework to support policy makers and spatial planners for conservation in Costa Rica and Colombia, which are her case study models.



Natalie Mason - Honours student

Natalie's project focuses on determining the global potential for transboundary conservation. She is identifying important border regions where many species have transboundary ranges and determining the feasibility of implementing cross-border conservation initiatives along national borders. This seeks to highlight the immediate opportunities for establishing transboundary conservation and identify the key challenges for cross-border collaboration in ecologically important regions.


Luana Duarte de Araujo – Visiting Master’s student

Luana’s research spans economics, ecology and spatial planning, focusing on analysing the contributions of incorporating spatial information into Payment for Ecosystem Services (PES) design and implementation. More specifically, the project aims at understanding how the integration of spatial planning approaches may influence cost-effectiveness and efficiency of PES schemes and ultimately improve environmental planning and policy making. Luana works as an Environmental Analyst at the Ministry of Environment of Brazil, focused on programs and actions related to economic instruments for environmental conservation, including PES.