Ayesha is a conservation decision scientist with a passion for improving ecological management decisions. 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 Hugh Possingham, Kerrie Wilson and Tara Martin at the University of Queensland's School of Biological Sciences, focusing on cost-effective and efficient resource allocation and decision-making processes for monitoring and managing threats to biodiversity. She then took up a postdoctoral 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 delivered a project in collaboration with the Australian Department of the Environment and the South Australian Government, investigating cumulative impacts of infrastructure and land degradation on species in the arid zone of South Australia.
In 2014 Ayesha started as a research fellow with Prof David Lindenmayer in the Fenner School at ANU. She continued her research into optimal monitoring of networks of species as well as working on long-term monitoring data from endangered Grassy Box woodlands to understand variability in species' responses to land management actions and predict where and when to implement biodiversity-focused interventions in agricultural landscapes.
Ayesha undertook an ARC DECRA Fellowship at the University of Sydney from 2017 to 2021. Her research focused on informing ecosystem assessments and priorities for biodiversity recovery, through improved understanding of the effects of threats and management interventions, and she spent 3 years undertaking field research in central Australia's Simpson Desert, learning about how birds, mammals and plants respond to grazing, extreme events and livestock exclusion.
Ayesha is passionate about building decision support to assist land management and biodiversity conservation decisions in Australia and overseas, particularly when decisions involve complex and sometimes competing objectives for people and nature. She commenced an ARC Future Fellowship at the Queensland University of Technology in 2021 investigating shock-proof agri-food supply chain interventions to co-benefit biodiversity and people.
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.