Ayesha is a conservation biologist with a passion for the ecology of birds and mammals, who spent several years working as a zookeeper then as a landscape restoration project manager for the non-government organisation Greening Australia. She returned to academia in 2009 to complete a PhD at the University of Queensland's School of Biological Sciences, focused on cost-effective and efficient resource allocation and decision-making processes for monitoring and management of threats to biodiversity. It is important to her that her research is applicable and accessible to agencies and organisations that make conservation decisions. She takes an integrated approach to her work, drawing on the fields of ecology, economics and sociology to answer questions about what, where and how should we monitor and manage threats to biodiversity. She has a particular interest in invasive and mobile predators, network theory, cost-benefit analysis, and threatened birds.
Her most recent research focuses on accounting for uncertainty in monitoring decisions, to enable scarce monitoring funds to be directed to the species and landscapes that will provide the best information for evaluating threatened species management decisions. She is also exploring uncertainty in contexts such as spatial conservation planning and incorporating risk aversion into prioritisation of species recovery projects. She works with non-government conservation organisations and government agencies concerned with managing biodiversity in Australia, New Zealand, U.S.A. and the U.K., to develop frameworks and tools for prioritising investment in the conservation of threatened species and ecosystems.
In 2013 Ayesha joined the School of Geography, Planning and Environmental Management as a National Environmental Research Program (NERP) research fellow, to begin a conservation planning project in collaboration with the Department of Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population and Communities, the South Australian Government, and RMIT University, investigating the impacts of mining infrastructure development scenarios on threatened species in the arid zone of South Australia.
Whenever she is not analysing data she can generally be found out in the field conducting bird surveys.