Joseph Maina

Dr Maina is a Senior Lecturer at the School of Natural Sciences at Macquarie University. He is a spatial scientist interested in a wide range of environmental and ecological questions. As an interdisciplinary researcher, his ultimate goal is to identify and investigate issues and their causes to inform solutions that will positively impact our society today and in the future. This means conducting research that applies to solving emerging challenges as well as helpful in understanding them. He explores questions in various fields, including macroecology, biodiversity conservation, remote sensing, spatial planning, water resources, sustainable fisheries and agriculture, and food security. Given the many large and diverse data sets that he works with, he is also involved in data science projects focused on developing tools for integrating, analysing and extracting information from multiple (often large) data sets more effectively, making it easier to include cross-disciplinary information in addressing complex environmental, social, and ecological questions.

Michael Chang

As a spatial information scientist at Macquarie, I have been promoting remote sensing and geographic information systems (GIS) applications across multiple disciplines. This has resulted in numerous peer-reviewed journal and conference papers, completions of HDR students and collaborative projects, including studies on bushfires and vegetation mapping. My research has contributed to the fields of environmental sciences, both natural and urban environments, and social sciences for making a more sustainable and liveable city.

Vera Horigue

Dr Vera Horigue is a co-funded fellow with Macquarie University and the Western Indian Ocean Marine Science Association (WIOMSA). Originally from the Philippines, Vera is an interdisciplinary researcher interested in improving marine conservation planning and governance in developing country contexts. She works closely with government officials and technical staff, and communities to improve conservation outcomes.  Vera has a joint MSc degree in Water and Coastal Management from Universidad de Cadiz, Spain, and University of Plymouth, United Kingdom. She earned her PhD at the ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies at James Cook University, Australia. After concluding her PhD, she worked as a post-doctoral research fellow at the University of the Philippines Marine Science Institute under the World Bank/ Global Environment Facility funded – Capturing Coral Reefs and Related Ecosystems Project where she developed tools and capacity building modules to support MPA design for fisheries management. 

Ernest Frimpong Asamoah

Dr Ernest Asamoah is a conservation scientist with a keen interest in policy–science–solutions interface of conservation and sustainability discussions —at local, national, and transnational scales. The main themes of his recent research have been climate and land-use change risk assessments, spatial prioritisation, and the potential of efforts (inc. protected areas management and restorations) to offer “near” natural solutions to these threats to biodiversity. Ernest has, previously, explored resource accounting tools towards sustainability.

Luisa Fontoura

Dr Luisa is an oceanographer, with a master’s degree in Ecology and a PhD in Environmental Sciences. She is a reef fish enthusiast and passionate about marine ecology and fieldwork. During her PhD, she investigated the influence of biological interactions, reef habitat, and larval connectivity on coral reefs’ assemblages and its responses to anthropogenic pressures at local and global spatial scales. During her academic journey, she has navigated in the areas of ecology, biogeography, ocean dynamics and more recently, conservation planning. The interdisciplinary nature of Luisa’s academic trajectory has pushed her research interests towards an integrative framework of community ecology and applied conservation. Currently, she is particularly interested on applying network analysis to integrate social components with ecological and oceanographic aspects that shape marine systems to address existing gaps in both the science and implementation of conservation measures in face of climate change.

Vanessa Hui Fen Neo

Vanessa graduated with a Master of Research (Marine Science) from Macquarie University, with a diverse background of sales and marketing from the medical industry, and genetics and molecular biology background from a Bachelor of Science degree conferred by the National University of Singapore. Currently, she works on big data, using R programming and Geographic Information Systems to study the effects of remote, modelled and proxy ocean temperature monitoring on coral bleaching in Western Australia. Her research involves the use of high resolution satellite sea surface temperature (SST) data, coral core proxies of SST, in-situ SST data loggers and global climate models.

Majambo Gamoyo

Dr Majambo is a spatial scientist and a modeler with a PhD in Ocean & Atmosphere from the University of Cape Town, South Africa and an MSc in Applied Marine Science from the same university. He has worked in coral reef and climate change research in the Western Indian Ocean with interest in climate science, oceanography and marine ecological systems. Majambo largely works with geospatial data including collection, data analysis and interpretation to facilitate learning, co-generation and co-creation of knowledge among policy makers, urban researchers and other stakeholders. Furthermore, Majambo’s current research involves modelling the dispersal of marine larvae by ocean currents, and how this may alter with climate change.

Stephanie D’Agata

Dr Stephanie D’Agata is an interdisciplinary scientist whose research interests broadly encompass small-scale fisheries sustainability, conservation biology, functional ecology, and understanding community-assembly processes in both temperate and tropical coastal ecosystems. Recently, Stephanie was awarded a LABEX CORAIL postdoctoral grant and is exploring the determinants of the socio-ecological vulnerability of small-scale fishers in south-west Madagascar.  She is currently a postdoctoral associate at the French National Research Institute for Sustainable Development based at the European Institute for Marine Studies at Brest in Brittany and associated with the AMURE lab. Stephanie has experiences in leading and contributing to a diverse range of interdisciplinary projects. After her PhD in conservation biology from the University of Montpellier, she joined the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS), a non-governmental organization, as the scientific advisor of the marine program of WCS Madagascar. During this experience, she expended her knowledge and skills in coastal resources management in developing countries in the Western Indian Ocean (WIO). She was then awarded a joint Macquarie-WCS postdoctoral fellowship. Since then, she dedicates her research to understanding pathways toward sustainable management of small-scale fisheries and the conservation of biodiversity to better inform decision-making processes. 

Jariya Chanachai

Jariya Chanachai graduated with a Master of Research and is currently a PhD candidate at Macquarie University. She is passionate about wildlife conservation and is particularly interested in the impacts of climate change on biodiversity. Jariya uses biodiversity big data to answer fundamental ecological questions and guide decision makers to the best management practices. Her current research involves the use of species distribution modelling in predicting current and future suitable habitat and identifying climate refugia for threatened species in the face of uncertain climate change.  

Elahe Mirabi

Elahe is currently an interdiciplinary PhD candidate in Environmental science at Macquarie University with a diverse background in Energy, and Architecture from Iran. Her research in low-energy buildings and cities pushed her research interest towards sustainable urban environment, climate change and urban heat island in particular. She is keen to Urban Heat Island, its contributing factors and mitigation strategies as to the pivotal role it has in cooler and low-carbon cities. Her thesis includes urban heat island caused by linear infrastructure in Sydney and seeks the potential of converting these grey infrastructure to green infrastructure as cooling corridors. She is also interested to bring measurement, GIS and Remote sensing, machine learning, and simulation to her thesis to discover the optimum sustainable and green infrastructure to have a cooler city in Sydney. 

Zixuan Xue

Zixuan Xue is a Master of Research student at Macquarie University with a passion for environmental protection and natural resource management, a diverse educational background in Remote Sensing, Geographical Information System, and environmental planning and policy from the University of Queensland and the State University of New York at Binghamton, and research interests in spatial analysis and active and passive sensor image processing and modelling across multiple software and cloud computing platforms. Zixuan’s current research aims to applying Deep Learning to detect the temporal trends of Land Use/Land cover Change within port cities along the Western Indian Ocean.

Jiliang Chen

Chen Jiliang is a PhD student in international law with a research focus on the governance of the high seas. He holds a bachelor’s degree in Environmental Science and a master’s degree in Environmental Management. Before joining MQU, he has been working on international environmental policy for NGOs in China, including Greenovation Hub, Heinrich Boell Foundation (China Desk), and Institute for Environment and Development. Since 2007, he has regularly participated in international environmental negotiations such as the UN climate negotiation and the Antarctic Treaty-related meetings. In the last decade, his work has focused on conserving marine biodiversity in areas beyond national jurisdiction, including the Antarctic Ocean. He has been actively publishing on relevant topics in the mass media and academic journals. Jiliang’s PhD study focuses on the international law on marine protected areas in areas beyond national jurisdictions.

Calyne Khamila

Calyne’s interest involves analysing natural resource problems using quantitative spatial-statistical modelling techniques with earth observation and geographical information systems. She is passionate about using her skills to contribute to forest and biodiversity research. One key strength of hers is that her work lies at the intersection of data processing and modelling techniques, making her familiar with both ends of the spectrum. By now, she has built a reasonable experience in research through her previous project on quantitative spatial analysis of productivity and biodiversity of forests in Europe and her current project that aims to map fire severity and post-fire vegetation recovery in bushlands in Australia. Calyne enjoys collaborating on projects because she believes that working with people from different backgrounds brings diverse and fresh knowledge that we urgently need to tackle environmental issues. 

About Us

The Spatial Decisions Group is a multi-disciplinary research group based mostly in Macquarie University, Australia. We conduct applied research in collaboration with research institutions, conservation NGOs, development organisations, and governments to help develop solutions for both terrestrial and marine environmental problems in East Africa, the Philippines, and globally.

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