Our team

Our phytosanitary risk research is delivered by a multi-disciplinary, multi-partner team.

The CSIRO team

Group Leader, Pest Management System

  • Rieks is an ecologist and systems thinker who tackles national biosecurity challenges. He leads the Market Access Work Package in CSIROs’ Trusted Agrifood Exports Mission. Rieks' phytosanitary risk science research aims to develop and apply improved scientific methods and tools for trade-related risk management. His role involves coordinating national, multi-disciplinary, multi-agency projects and building linkages with industry, regulators and international partners. As a team leader in the Pest Management Systems Group within CSIRO Health and Biosecurity, Rieks' broader role is to coordinate research that tackles the ecology and management of invasive species including feral animals (pigs and buffalo), invasive plants and pest invertebrates (such as fruit flies, ants and snails).

Jane Muller

Engagement consultant, Agricultural exports

  • Jane leads the stakeholder engagement process for CSIRO's phytosanitary risk science work, liaising closely with biosecurity regulators, industry organisations and horticulture growers. Jane has worked for many years with horticulture industry groups and growers, facilitating engagement in government policy development and industry programs addressing environmentally sustainable farm practices, rural water use efficiency, climate risk management and adaptation, natural disaster resilience, fair employment practices, and leadership development. From her business development and project portfolio management roles, Jane has experience identifying strategic alignment between industry priorities and funding opportunities.

Research Scientist

  • Jens is a Geographer and Landscape Ecologist, educated at the University of Freiburg, Germany and The University of Queensland, St. Lucia. In his role with CSIRO Health & Biosecurity, Jens develops methods, workflows and decision support tools that enable adaptive management of biosecurity risks and invasive species. Jens' research approach is integrative, drawing on over 10 years of interdisciplinary and cross-institutional education and work experiences. Before joining CSIRO, he worked for Biosecurity Queensland in various research- and policy-related capacities, completed a PhD at The University of Queensland on modelling feral pig populations in northern Australia to aid risk-based management of infectious animal diseases, and was a Research Associate with the Quantitative Applied Spatial Ecology Group at the Queensland University of Technology.

Research Scientist

  • Maryam is an entomologist who's work aims to improve our understanding of insect pest biology and ecology in agricultural systems, towards developing practical, cost effective and environmentally sensitive pest management. Maryam's detailed entomology knowledge and data analysis helps validate the efficacy of proposed systems approaches for fruit fly and moth pests of quarantine concern in horticulture crops.

Research Team Leader, Biosecurity Risk

  • Peter is a principal research scientist with CSIRO Data61 who applies quantitative methods to address contemporary problems in the environmental, agricultural and health sciences. Peter is leading the development of quantitative models to validate the efficacy of phytosanitary systems approaches. Peter's expertise is also applied to other critical health and biosecurity issues, including responses to the COVID-19 pandemic, risk assessments for ports for bee pests and pest bees, and optimization of surveillance with direct uptake by biosecurity agencies.

Senior Research Scientist , Environmental & Ecological Risk

  • Nick is an ecological modeller, with a background in applied mathematics. Nick's research has contributed to improving our understanding of facial tumour disease in Tasmanian Devils; spatial modelling of invasive and threatened species; new approaches in phylogenetics and niche modelling of various plant species; and analysis of ecological and human health risks associated with transgenic methods of controlling malaria vectors. For this project, Nick contributes to the development of quantitative models and analysis of field data.

Research Scientist, Adaptive Biosecurity Management

  • Justine is a landscape ecologist with skills in expert elicitation and species distribution modelling. Justine has extensive experience in developing decision support tools, especially with Bayesian networks and spatial models. Her research covers pests, introduced and threatened species in both natural and agricultural landscapes, and investigates the relationship between species and their environment at multiple spatial scales. Justine's models help to design systems approaches by identifying the risks associated with a pest or disease and assessing the options to lowering the risk with suitable management solutions.

Kerry Collins

Natural Resource Analyst, Biosecurity & Biotechnology

  • Kerry draws on her holistic knowledge of natural resource sciences to provide support to multi-disciplinary teams of social and biophysical researchers addressing diverse natural resource management issues. For the systems approaches work, Kerry manages multiple datasets generated from case study sites, ensuring accurate data is supplied for analysis and quantitative modelling. Kerry also has extensive research experience in soil systems analysis; land use, land use change and land use efficiency; and the development of natural resource management decision support tools.
Himali Ratnayake, CSIRO Postdoctoral Research Fellow

Postdoctoral Research Fellow

  • Himali is an ecophysiologist and ecological modeller who is passionate about doing impactful, pragmatic science and communicating her research with stakeholders at all levels. Himali’s doctoral research focussed on the impacts of extreme heatwaves on the physiology of Australian flying-foxes. In her current role with CSIRO, Himali leads the development of a ‘Biosecurity Risk Calculator’, which will provide data-driven analytics to calculate and update insect pest infestation risk in fresh produce consignments as they pass along the supply chain.

Australian government and industry delivery partners

CSIRO acknowledges the valuable contributions of our research partners in the Australian Government Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry, Australian state governments and horticulture industry organisations.