Dare to Lead!

Dr Fiona Johnson (left) and Associate Professor Lucy Marshall (right)Congratulations to Associate Professor Lucy Marshall and Scientia Fellow Dr Fiona Johnson for their key part in the successful application for $4 million in funding for a new Australian Research Council (ARC) Training Centre in Data Analytics for Resources and Environments (DARE). Lucy will lead the water exemplar and take on the position as Deputy Director of the new Centre.

"DARE is an exciting opportunity” says Marshall,” to marry UNSW's expertise in water and natural resources with emerging advances in data science. It is critical that the next generation of water researchers are equipped with high-level computational and analytical skills so that they can tackle uncertainty, especially in scenarios where real-life decisions are made about resource management.”

For Professor Sally Cripps, the new Director of DARE and Director of the University of Sydney’s Centre for Translational Data Science, the aim of DARE “is to make the best possible evidence-based decisions in harnessing and stewarding the nation’s natural resources and environment. There has never been a better, or more important time, to rethink the way we do this.”

DARE will enable researchers to apply their data science models against real world challenges, such as water storage, biodiversity loss and the extraction of mineral resources.

“We have seen some of the most challenging conditions in Australia with drought causing untold heartache for famers and testing conditions for the management of water supplies everywhere,” Professor Cripps said. “The management of all our natural resources face the common central issue of how data is exploited to build predictive and integrated models which can be used to make economic and sustainable decisions in the face of high levels of uncertainty.”

Understanding the cumulative impact of actions regarding the use of our resources has important long-term consequences for Australia’s economic, societal and environmental health. Yet many decisions and policies are based on limited amounts of data and rudimentary data analysis, with little appreciation of the critical role that understanding and quantifying uncertainty plays in the process.

The ARC Training Centre will bring together a diverse field of expertise. Researchers from UNSW will collaborate with colleagues at the University of Sydney and The University of Western Australia as well as with a range of other partners from across the sector: the Western Australian Biodiversity Science Institute; Geoscience Australia; IAG Insurance; Mckinsey & Company; Natural Resources Commission; Newcrest Mining Ltd; NSW Treasury; Office of Environment and Heritage NSW; Water NSW; The Alan Turing Institute and the University of Leeds, UK. Associate Professor Lucy Marshall says she is “thrilled to be working with such a diverse group of research partners across multiple institutions and disciplines and looking forward to recruiting students to the program".

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