Dr Kerrie Wilson ... her work seeks the most effective ways to protect ecosystems
Dr Kerrie Wilson ... her work seeks the most effective ways to protect ecosystems
19 October 2016

The University of Queensland’s Associate Professor Kerrie Wilson has been awarded one of this year's Prime Minister's Prizes for Science – the Fenner Prize for Life Scientist of the Year.

Dr Wilson, a conservation scientist, received her award this evening at a black-tie dinner in the Great Hall of Parliament House.

UQ Vice-Chancellor and President Professor Peter Høj said Dr Wilson’s research built connections between ecosystems, governments and people.

“Kerrie looks at the value of the services that ecosystems provide – services such as clean air, water, food, and tourism – and the most effective ways to protect ecosystems,” he said.

“Her work helps governments to get the best return on their investment in the environment and to calculate the most effective way to protect and restore ecosystems.

“Kerrie is one of UQ’s rising stars and her work epitomises our focus at UQ – to create change in the world.”

Professor Høj said that Dr Wilson and her colleagues had shown how the three nations that share the island of Borneo could retain half the land as forest, provide adequate habitat for orangutans and Bornean elephants, and achieve an opportunity cost saving of more than $50 billion.

“In Chile, they are helping to plan national park extensions that will bring recreation and access to nature to many more Chileans, while also enhancing the conservation of native plants and animals,” he said.

“On the Gold Coast, they are helping to ensure that a multi-million-dollar local government investment in rehabilitation of degraded farmland is spent wisely – in the areas where it will have the biggest impact for the natural ecosystem and local communities.

"It is outstanding individuals like Dr Wilson and UQ's cohort of five ARC Laureate Fellows in Environmental Science who have managed to move UQ to a top 10 position globally in environmental science and ecology. ”

Dr Wilson, from the UQ School of Biological Sciences, is the ARC Centre of Excellence for Environmental Decisions node leader and heads the Wilson Conservation Ecology Lab.

The Frank Fenner Prize for Life Scientist of the Year is awarded in honour of Professor Frank Fenner AC, internationally renowned for his contribution to myxomatosis – a disease introduced to control Australia’s rabbit population. His work on poxviruses played an important role in efforts to eradicate smallpox.

Information on the other Prime Minister’s Prizes for Science awards is here.

Watch a video of Dr Wilson discussing her research here.

Media: communications@uq.edu.au, +61 7 3365 1120.