QUT researchers to head to Antarctica in preservation efforts

QUT researchers are working on building the technology necessary to help preserve, model, and monitor the harsh Antarctic environment and its wildlife.

Professor Kerrie Wilson, Executive Director of the QUT Institute for Future Environments, will be part of the leadership team for the new research program and has brought together QUT’s top experts from environmental conservation, data science, mathematical modelling, decision science, machine learning and robotics.

Their skills are being used as part of the new Australian Research Council’s Special Research Initiative for Excellence in Antarctic Science announced this week by the Federal Government.

Professor Wilson has two decades of experience leading and conducting research on the science, strategy, and policy of conservation.

She said QUT will help provide practical solutions to the complex environmental challenges faced in the Antarctic and Southern Ocean.

“Our team of researchers is working towards developing the technology, specifically designed to operate in the severe Antarctic landscape and using that data to provide evidence-based analysis to make informed decisions,” Professor Wilson said.

Researchers include Distinguished Professor Peter Corke and Professor Matthew Dunbabin, both are internationally renowned roboticists from QUT’s Centre for Robotics.

“We are creating advanced robotic systems that fly, swim and drive in the hostile Antarctic environment to gather data that will inform scientific models of how the continent is responding to climate change,” Professor Corke said, who also directs QUT-based ARC Centre of Excellence for Robotic Vision.

Associate Professor Felipe Gonzales expertise in aeronautical engineering and artificial intelligence and optimisation will also be used.

The interdisciplinary QUT team also includes Distinguished Professor Kerrie Mengersen, Associate Professor Michael Bode, Associate Professor Erin Petersen and Dr Kate Helmstedt whose research is in spatial aspects of ecology, statistical modelling, and decision science will inform all aspects of the research program.

“The goal is to link new streams of data to the kinds of questions that managers need to answer – where, when and how should we protect local ecosystems and species to enable long-term decisions,” Dr Helmstedt said.

The Securing Antarctica’s Environmental Future (SAEF) program involves 30 organisations in Australia and overseas and is being led by Monash University.

For the next seven years, QUT will work alongside Monash University, University of Wollongong, University of New South Wales, James Cook University, University of Adelaide, the South Australian Museum, and the Western Australian Museum.

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