Researcher biography

Ayesha is a conservation biologist with a passion for the ecology of birds and mammals. She began her career in Australia working with the National Parks and Wildlife Service in Royal National Park, New South Wales, to measure the response of small mammals including the threatened eastern pygmy possum to the devastating bushfires of 2001. She spent several years working as a zookeeper then as a landscape restoration project manager for the non-government organisation Greening Australia.

Ayesha returned to academia in 2009 to complete a PhD with Professor Hugh Possingham and Dr Kerrie Wilson at The University of Queensland's School of Biological Sciences, focussing on cost-effective and efficient resource allocation and decision-making processes for monitoring and management of threats to biodiversity. She then took up a one-year research fellow position with the Centre for Biodiversity and Conservation Science, exploring ways to account for uncertainty and risk in conservation planning and monitoring decisions.

In 2013, Ayesha joined Dr Jonathan Rhodes at the School of Geography, Planning and Environmental Management as a National Environmental Research Program (NERP) research fellow, to deliver a project in collaboration with the Australian Department of the Environment, the South Australian Government, and Dr Ascelin Gordon of RMIT University, investigating cumulative impacts of threatening processes on species in the arid zone of South Australia. She developed a new frameword for strategic assessment of infrastructure development scenarios on threatened species.

​In 2014, Ayesha started as a research fellow with Professor David Lindenmayer in the Fenner School at The Australian National University. She is working on understanding variability in species responses to threat management actions to inform better conservation decisions, with a particular focus on teasing apart bottom-up versus top-down effects.​

Ayesha's long-time interest in learning about birds and how best to mitigate their threatening processes has led to her involvement with ongoing citizen science programs such as Eremaea eBird, an online bird survey database, and with BirdLife Australia's State of Australia's Birds report.​

Ayesha is currently working with the Wildlife Conservation Society on land use planning to protect human livelihoods and biodiversity in the Congo Basin and Madagascar. This project integrates mapping of anthropogenic processes such as timber harvesting and bushmeat hunting with priorities for carbon storage, human subsistence and biodiversity conservation, and forecasts likely scenarios of declines in biodiversity under future scenarios of human land use.