People

Professor Sarah Bekessy

Research Staff

Sarah leads the Interdisciplinary Conservation Science Research Group (ICON Science). She is a Professor and ARC Future Fellow at RMIT’s School of Global, Urban and Social Studies and a researcher in the ARC Centre of Excellence for Environmental Decisions (CEED) and in two National Environmental Science Program (NESP) hubs (Threatened Species and Clean Air and Urban Landscapes).  She 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’. Her research interests include threatened species management, environmental decision analysis, population and landscape modelling, urban ecology and education for sustainability.

Dr Holly Kirk

Research Staff

Holly is a postdoctoral research fellow working on Biodiversity Sensitive Urban Design. As an ecologist, Holly is fascinated by how animals move around their environment, from foraging fairy-wrens to migrating monarch butterflies. She has been using this knowledge to plan cities that support and enhance urban biodiversity. Most recently Holly has been developing a tool to quantify ecological connectivity and applying this within the BSUD framework to several development projects, including the renewal of Fishermans Bend (Melbourne). Holly is passionate about translating scientific theory into positive on-ground action for people and nature.

Dr. Casey Visintin

Research Staff

Originally trained as an architect and urban planner, Casey Visintin has ten years of experience working in a multinational firm on large urban development and sustainable building projects. He is a LEED-accredited professional and has completed two gold-certified institutional buildings – both from the programming/schematic design phase through construction and post-occupancy evaluation. He obtained post-graduate qualifications (M. Env – Wildlife Conservation; PhD – Applied Ecology) to support his passion for biological conservation. Casey’s current postdoctoral research focuses on improving biodiversity outcomes in the built environment by integrating the disciplines of architecture and ecology.

Thami Croeser

Research Staff

Thami is an urban planner and spatial analyst with a specialist interest in urban greening, with a history of delivering greening projects and policy in Melbourne’s most urbanised spaces. He currently is part of an international project team advising the European Union on planning for urban greening.

Cristina Hernandez

PHD STUDENT

Cristina is a PhD student investigating strategies to translate ecological knowledge to support ‘place’ for both humans and non-humans to coexist. Specifically, she aspires to merge the idea of participatory design with ecology by incorporating the voice and needs of the non-humans and using this knowledge to increase the resilience of our urban areas. Cristina has a background in ecology from the University of the Americas, Puebla, Mexico and a Master of Environment (Sustainable Cities, Sustainable Regions) from the University of Melbourne. Across the years since she first completed her bachelor’s degree, she has avidly worked to bring together ecology and design as well as creating partnerships between academy and industry.

Nyree Raabe

Research officer

Nyree is a research officer at ICON Science exploring the opportunities available to urban governments to reduce the biodiversity footprint of their procurement practices. This work extends her interest in leveraging governments to support environmental sustainability within urban centres. Outside of the city, Nyree is an ocean social ecology enthusiast. She is currently completing a PhD with Deakin University investigating community understandings of, connections to, and values for marine environments and Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) and the potential of marine virtual reality experiences in supporting pro-environmental attitude change toward these places.

Dr Ascelin Gordon

Research Staff

Ascelin is a Vice-Chancellor’s Senior Research Fellow with ICON Science.  He works as part of the ARC Centre of Excellence for Environmental Decisions and the National Environmental Research Program.  Ascelin’s research focuses on developing modelling approaches for understanding the impacts of environmental policies on biodiversity values in the landscape.  His research interests include conservation planning and spatial prioritisation, dealing with uncertainties in conservation, setting priorities for conservation investment, population modelling and conservation on private land.

Dr Pia Lentini

Research Staff

Pia is a Senior Research Fellow with ICON Science whose interests’ span ecology, conservation and the social sciences, and her current research is focussed on reducing the biodiversity impacts of the coffee supply chain. Her work generally explores human-wildlife coexistence and how our management decisions and behaviours are linked to conservation outcomes. Whenever possible she works directly with decision makers and agency stakeholders, and although she loves all aspects of nature, she particularly enjoys working on questions related to bats. Pia also sits on the DELWP Scientific Advisory Committee and the Board of Wildlife Victoria.

Natasha Ward

Research Staff

Natasha is a Research officer and educator with an interest in Indigenous science education. For her honours project she investigated the implementation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander knowledge into secondary science curriculum. She is currently working on developing holistic curriculums for primary schools which explore traditional knowledges by working with local Aboriginal groups, creating a connection between the school and the local Aboriginal peoples.

Anna Backstrom

PHD Student

Anna is a PhD student with the ICON Science.  Anna is investigating the benefits of the novel ecosystem concept for environmental management in highly modified systems.

Emily Gregg

PHD Student

Emily is a PhD candidate working on improving communications in order to increase community buy-in to threatened species conservation. She has a Bachelor of Science (Zoology) and a Master of Science (Zoology) from the University of Melbourne, where she investigated the feasibility of a ‘waterless barrier’ in halting toad spread through Western Australia. She has also completed a research internship in 2017 with Arid Recovery, where she worked on anything from annual trapping surveys to community engagement.

Lindall Kidd

PHD Student

Lindall is doing her PhD investigating communication strategies to engage people in biodiversity conservation. Her research is funded by the National Environmental Science Program’s Threatened Species Recovery Hub. Lindall specializes in bird conservation and currently works for the Migratory Shorebird Program at BirdLife Australia.

Roshan Sharma

PHD STUDENT

Roshan has a background in forestry and natural resources management and has worked in policy and science interface in international development organizations like UNFCCC, German Development Institute, and CIFOR. He is interested in addressing environmental problems using remote sensing and geospatial modelling. For his PhD he is evaluating the conservation intervention impacts using spatial statistics.

Hugh Stanford

PHD STUDENT

Hugh’s research focuses on urban planning and how cities can be better designed to improve urban biodiversity and open space outcomes in the face of urban development and inner-city densification. He is currently investigating how informal and neglected urban spaces can play a role in improving urban biodiversity outcomes and how urban governance can facilitate this in practice. While undertaking his PhD, Hugh works as a Senior Strategic Planner at the Victorian Planning Authority (VPA) and is involved in planning for Melbourne’s outer metropolitan areas.

Dale Wright

PHD STUDENT

Dale’s love for birds from an early age led him to a career in biodiversity conservation. His experience in applied conservation includes working as the manager of a protected area in Tanzania, an extension officer on WWF-SA’s Biodiversity & Wine Initiative and as the national IBA Conservation Implementation Manager for BirdLife South Africa. However, he also enjoys conservation research, completing an MSc in Conservation Biology and collaborating on several ornithological and conservation policy related research projects. He joins ICON Science as a PhD candidate on the ARC Coffee Linkage project, investigating how sustainable agriculture can support biodiversity conservation. 

Dr Alex Kusmanoff

Research Staff

Alex has much experience working in government across various policy areas, and is currently a Senior Behaviour Change Adviser with the Victorian Department of Environment, Land, Water & Planning. He also continues to dabble in academia with research chiefly related to behaviour change and message framing to support conservation.

Dr Matthew Selinske

Research Staff

Matthew is a postdoctoral research fellow at ICON. Matthew works on a range of research projects including social acceptability of offsets and alternative policies such as ‘onsets’, social dimensions of private land conservation, and conservation behavior change. Matthew currently serves as the President of the Society for Conservation Biology’s Social Science Working Group. Prior to his research career Matthew worked in ecological restoration projects in Minnesota and New York, and managed a protected area in West Africa, focused on primate conservation. Matthew received his undergraduate degree from the University of Minnesota College of Natural Resources and MSc from Imperial College.

Dr Lily Van Eeden

Research Staff

Lily is a Research Fellow based at Arthur Rylah Institute but with affiliations at ICON Science as well as BehaviourWorks Australia (Monash University). She is an environmental social scientist interested in understanding how to get people to engage in behaviours that benefit biodiversity conservation and she is undertaking her current work as part of the state government’s Victorians Value Nature program. Her research background is primarily in the human dimensions of wildlife management and she has also spent around eight years working as an ecological consultant.

Katherine Berthon

PHD Student

Katherine is a PhD student investigating drivers of biodiversity change and function in urban landscapes. Her passion for conservation biology and curiosity for understanding natural phenomena has led to a diverse research background in animal behaviour, spatial analysis, invasion biology and ecological theory. During her candidature, she has used a variety of methods to understand and predict the influence of design on plant-insect relationships, including a year-long observation study of garden beds in City of Melbourne, deploying experimental “phytometres” in Munich and metabarcoding pollen. The goal of this research is to inform design guidelines for enhancing biodiversity in urban greenspaces.

Marco Gutiérrez

PHD Student

Marco is a PhD student investigating strategic environmental assessment as an environmental decision-making support instrument, seeking to better understand the outcomes, opportunities and risks that such an approach presents to biodiversity and ecosystem services. Marco has a Bachelor of Environmental Engineering from ITESO University in Mexico and a Master of Environment (Sustainable Cities, Sustainable Regions) from the University of Melbourne. He has worked as an environmental regulator and consultant in Mexico.

Fiona Hoegh-Guldberg

PHD STUDENT

Fiona is a PhD candidate investigating synergies and tradeoffs between biodiversity, climate mitigation and human wellbeing. Her research forms part of the ARC Discovery Project ‘Onsets not offsets for real Biodiversity gains.’ Fiona recently completed a Masters of Environment at the University of Melbourne studying ‘Sustainable Cities, Sustainable Regions’ and ‘Climate Change Mitigation.’ She has a background in Marine Science and Zoology (BSc Honours), and completed her honours research project in 2019 on the bioacoustic breeding behaviours of female Kangaroo Island glossy black-cockatoos (Calyptorhynchus lathami). She is very passionate about interdisciplinary solutions where biodiversity conservation, climate action and human wellbeing unite.