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We are a group of researchers and students led by Dr Eve McDonald-Madden, based in the School of Earth and Environmental Sciences at the University of Queensland. Our research is focused on improving environmental decision-making, and motivated by a desire to enhance the quality of decisions that impact the sustainability of our natural world.


Our eye is always on accounting for the most important complexities behind each decision, such as uncertainty, ecological and social interactions, multiple objectives, or the complex trade-offs inherent in sustainability issues. We use, develop and apply state-of-the-art analytic approaches, such as optimization, systems modelling, Pareto efficiency, spatial prioritisation, remote-sensing, and value-of-information analysis.


Check out some of our current projects and meet our team below.






Selected publications: 

O'Bryan, C.J., N.R. Patton, J. Hone, J.S. Lewis, V. Berdejo-Espinola, D.R. Risch, M.H. Holden & E. McDonald-Madden (2021) Unrecognized threat to global soil carbon by a widespread invasive species. Global Change Biology DOI: 10.1111/gcb.15769

Spillias, S., P. Kareiva, M. Ruckelshaus & E. McDonald-Madden (2020) Renewable energy targets may undermine their sustainability. Nature Climate Change 10: 974-976. DOI: 10.1038/s41558-020-00939-x  

Xie, Z., E.T. Game, R.J. Hobbs, D.J. Pannell, S.R. Phinn & E. McDonald-Madden (2020) Conservation opportunities on uncontested lands. Nature Sustainability 3: 9-15. DOI:

McDonald-Madden E, R. Sabbadin, E.T. Game, P.W.J. Baxter, I. Chadès & H.P. Possingham (2016) Using food-web theory to conserve ecosystems. Nature Communications 7: 10245. DOI:

Runge, M.C., J.C. Stroeve, A.P. Barrett & E. McDonald-Madden (2016) Detecting failure of climate predictions, Nature Climate Change 6(9): 861-864. DOI:


Game E.T., E. Meijaard, D. Sheil & E. McDonald-Madden (2014) Conservation in a wicked complex world; challenges and solutions. Conservation Letters 7: 271-277. DOI:


McDonald-Madden, E., M.C. Runge, H.P. Possingham & T.G. Martin (2011) Optimal timing for managed relocation of species faced with climate change. Nature Climate Change 1: 261-265. DOI:


McDonald-Madden E., A. Gordon, B.A. Wintle, S. Walker, H. Grantham, S. Carvalho, M. Bottrill, L. Joseph, R. Ponce, R. Stewart & H.P. Possingham (2009) "True" conservation progress. Science 323: 43-44. DOI:

Chadès I., E. McDonald-Madden, M.A. McCarthy, B. Wintle, M. Linkie & H.P. Possingham (2008) When to stop managing or surveying cryptic threatened species. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences USA 105: 13936-13940. DOI:


McDonald-Madden E., P.W.J. Baxter H.P. Possingham (2008) Making robust decisions for conservation with restricted money and knowledge. Journal of Applied Ecology 45: 1630-1638. DOI:

A full list of our publications can be found here


We teach courses focused on decision analysis, problem solving and analytics:

Environmental Problem Solving ENVM7512

Environmental Problem Solving ENVM4512

Natural Resource Mathematics MATH3070



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PhD Scholarship - Optimization and trade-off analysis of livestock production to minimize economic, health and environmental impacts

The successful applicant will be based in the McDonald-Madden lab within the School of Earth and Environmental Science and the Centre for Biodiversity and Conservation Science at UQ.


Project description

This project aims to develop a spatial model of meat production. The research will lead to recommendations on where and how to produce meat while minimizing environment and socio-economic costs (e.g., GHG emissions, biodiversity loss, malnutrition, etc.) and is part of the Future Fellowship project “Where's the beef? A systems model for taming a wicked environmental problem”. The project is a collaboration with Cornell University, the University of Minnesota, the University of Melbourne and Deakin University.


Preferred educational background

  • Hold a BSc (honours) or MSc degree in environmental modelling, agriculture economics, engineering, mathematics, or a related field

  • Knowledge of statistics and programming languages (Python, R or Matlab)

  • Knowledge of geographic information systems, big data analysis, systems modelling or multi-objective optimisation will be considered an advantage


This project is available until December 2023 unless a suitable candidate is found prior.


The Candidate is required to apply and be successful for a UQ PhD Scholarship with support from the Project Team.


Current scholarship rounds open on 28th Feb 2022 and close 27 March 2022



Please send an expressions of interest Prof Eve McDonald-Madden by email:, including a cover letter (addressing the suitability for the project), a full CV along with the contact details of referees, and copies of transcripts.


Contact us

Thanks for submitting!

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