Researcher biography

Sandra is a marine data scientist with an interest in marine spatial planning and ecosystem modelling. Her work particularly focuses on designing and assessing the costs and benefits of marine protected areas from an ecological and economic perspective, as well as the development of tools that aid stakeholder engagement. 

She holds a BSc (Hons) in Marine Biology from the University of Plymouth and a MSc in Bioinformatics from the University of Leipzig, during which she assessed how much larval export can reduce opportunity costs following marine protected area implementation. Sandra’s previous experience also includes writing R packages for time-efficient and reproducible marine spatial planning and Shiny apps to facilitate stakeholder engagement. These tools have been used in workshops involving the Commission for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources (CCAMLR) and the Norwegian Government on spatial planning for the Weddell Sea in the Southern Ocean.

Sandra is now undertaking a PhD in multiple-use spatial planning in the Global South in a joint project by the University of Queensland and the University of Exeter (UK).


Buenafe, K.C.V., Dunn, D.C., Everett, J.D., Brito-Morales, I., Schoeman, D.S., Hanson, J.O., Dabalà, A., Neubert, S., Cannicci, S., Kaschner, K., & Richardson, A.J. (2023). A metric-based framework for climate-smart conservation planning. Ecological Applications e2852.

Dabalà, A., Dahdouh-Guebas, F., Dunn, D.C., Everett, J.D., Lovelock, C.E., Hanson, J.O., Buenafe, K.C.V., Neubert, S., & Richardson, A.J. (2023). Priority areas to protect mangroves and maximise ecosystem services. Nature Communications 14(5863).