Personal details

Dr Kate Helmstedt
Research Fellow (DECRA)
Faculty of Science,
School of Mathematical Sciences
Senior Lecturer in Operations Research
Faculty of Science,
School of Mathematical Sciences
Discipline *
Applied Mathematics, Environmental Science and Management, Ecological Applications
+61 7 3138 7662
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Identifiers and profiles
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PhD (University of Queensland), Bachelor of Science with Honours Class Honours Class 1 (University of Queensland), Bachelor of Science (University of Queensland)


decision science, operations research, biodiversity conservation, threatened species, invasive species, multi-use landscapes, environmental management, ecological modelling, Great Barrier Reef, Antarctica

* Field of Research code, Australian and New Zealand Standard Research Classification (ANZSRC), 2008


Dr Helmstedt’s research expertise is in using operations research to guide smart decision making for natural resource and environmental management with the ultimate goal of guiding future management decisions towards cost-efficiency, transparency and defensibility. Ecological systems are incredibly complex, and changing how those systems interact and evolve can have unexpected implications. Dr Helmstedt builds mathematical models of coupled ecological, land-use, and economic systems to understand the mechanisms driving success, failure, and efficiency of management actions. Carefully, transparently, and defensibly planning management and policy interventions while acknowledging those complexities and the associated risks helps achieve better outcomes for the environment and society.

Dr Helmstedt completed her PhD in 2015 at the University of Queensland under the supervision of Professor Hugh Possingham. She then spent two years as a postdoctoral researcher at the University of California Berkeley before joining QUT as a Lecturer.

For more information, see Dr Helmstedt’s website, twitter, or Google Scholar profile.

This information has been contributed by Dr Kate Helmstedt.


Prospective Honours and PhD students who are interested in any combination of biodiversity conservation, natural resource management, and operations research are encouraged to contact Dr Helmstedt — especially those from groups traditionally underrepresented in mathematics. There are opportunities for competitive funding for domestic and international students through university schemes. Postdoctoral researchers pursuing their own funding are also encouraged to contact Dr Helmstedt.


Undergraduate teaching 


2017 Lecturer and Unit Coordinator of Operations Research for Stochastic Processes (MXB334), Queensland University of Technology


2016 Running graduate student working group UC Berkeley, Modelling and minimizing the ecosystem impacts of food waste


2015 Guest lecture UC Berkeley, Mathematical modelling of ecological systems


2010-2015  Five years’ experience as a teaching assistant at the University of Queensland: Mathematics and statistics undergraduate

  • Calculus and Linear Algebra (2010, 2012)
  • Advanced Calculus and Linear Algebra (2010-2014)
  • Applied Mathematical Analysis (2011)
  • Multivariate Calculus & Ordinary Differential Equations  (2012)
  • Analysis of Scientific Data in R (2010)

Biology undergraduate

  • Theory & Practice in Science (2010, 2011, 2012, 2014)

2011                Development of course materials (labs, tutorial materials and assignments) for “Theory & Practice in Science”: a first year undergraduate course for biology and chemistry students, covering an introduction to mathematical modelling, mathematical problem formulation and programming in Python.

This information has been contributed by Dr Kate Helmstedt.


Dr Helmstedt collaborates with diverse groups of scientists including mathematicians, statisticians, economists, ecologists, biologists, agricultural and marine scientists. These collaborative networks span Australia and internationally across the US and Europe (and, pending Brexit, the UK).

Through ongoing collaborations with the Australian Antarctic Division and the Tasmanian state government, she helps guide decision-making about how to tackle the huge environmental problem of invasive species on islands.

This information has been contributed by Dr Kate Helmstedt.


For more publications by this staff member, visit QUT ePrints, the University's research repository.

Research projects

Grants and projects (Category 1: Australian Competitive Grants only)

Mathematically Optimal Rand D for Coral Reef Conservation
Primary fund type
CAT 1 - Australian Competitive Grant
Project ID
Start year
Securing Antarctica's Environmental Future
Primary fund type
CAT 1 - Australian Competitive Grant
Project ID
Start year


Current supervisions

  • Multi-Criteria Tool to Support Decision-Making for Waste Processing Technologies in the Red Meat Industry
    PhD, Associate Supervisor
    Other supervisors: Professor Robert Speight, Professor Ian O'Hara
  • Assessing the vulnerability of shallow continental shelf benthic habitats adjacent to the Australian Antarctic research stations and sub-Antarctic islands to marine invasive species in a warming world
    PhD, Associate Supervisor
    Other supervisors: Professor Kerrie Wilson
  • Novel mathematical models and simulation tools for stochastic ecosystems
    PhD, Associate Supervisor
    Other supervisors: Dr Pamela Burrage
  • Operations research to optimise logistical deployment of emerging reef restoration technologies
    PhD, Associate Supervisor
    Other supervisors: Associate Professor Paul Corry, Adjunct Professor Mark Gibbs

Completed supervisions (Doctorate)

Completed supervisions (Masters by Research)