Welcome to my site! ¡Bienvenido a mi página web!
I am a Lecturer in Ecological Modelling at the University of Melbourne, where I work under the umbrella of the Quantitative and Applied Ecology Group. Broadly, we work in the development and application of quantitative tools to answer questions in ecology and conservation. In particular, my research largely deals with wildlife monitoring, the modelling of species distributions and optimal study design, with an emphasis on issues derived from imperfect detection (you can find more details about my research projects here). I am Senior Editor for Animal Conservation and Associated Editor for the Journal of Agricultural, Biological and Environmental Statistics. Previously, I was in the editorial board of Conservation Biology (2013-2016).
I am not sure whether I should (or actually could) call myself a statistician, ecologist, conservation scientist or engineer… perhaps I am simply a little bit of each. My original background is in Telecom Engineering. I worked several years in R&D of mobile devices for a company in Finland (yes, that was Nokia!), developing and testing physical layer communication algorithms. That means how 1s and 0s are transmitted and received between a mobile device and a base station. I must admit I had a great time in the job, as I took part in the transition from the initial mobile phones with simple calling capabilities to mobile devices with internet connectivity and much more. However, despite all the joy (and the security of having a permanent job… not that Nokia was meant to last…), things changed in 2007. Driven by our long-life interest in nature, and after taking evening courses in biology and ecology at the Open University of Turku, my partner José and I decided to redirect our careers and apply our quantitative skills to the fields of ecology and conservation.
In 2008 I graduated from the MSc in Conservation Science at Imperial College (UK), a fantastic program developed by Prof. E.J. Milner-Gulland in partnership with the Zoological Society of London, the Royal Botanic Gardens Kew and the Durrell Wildlife Conservation Trust. My MSc thesis explored the factors determining the occurrence and detectability of the critically endangered Alaotran gentle lemur (the cute one up in the banner). After that, I completed a PhD in Statistics at the University of Kent, under the supervision of Prof. Byron Morgan & Prof. Martin Ridout and as part of the UK’s National Centre for Statistical Ecology. My PhD research continued along the modelling of species occupancy, focusing on two main general themes: (i) the use of point processes as a means to describe the detection process and (ii) study design, with an emphasis on the trade-off between the number of sampling sites and the amount of effort employed per site. My work also involved analysing Sumatran tiger data… and yes, I got to visit the field sites in Sumatra with the survey teams!
Since 2012, I’ve been working here in Melbourne. Most often, my research involves spending time in front of a computer, usually running some code and pretending that I am thinking hard. However, I definitely enjoy finding “excuses” to come out and visit the field, either for collecting data or simply understanding better the system I am working with… it is always good to remember what all those numbers are about!