Q&A with Hugh Possingham

Where were you born?

Adelaide, Australia

What did you do your PhD on?

Mathematical and theoretical ecology at Oxford Uni

If you were a tree, what species of tree would you be and why?

A spider orchid, because I am deceptive

Why do you work on environmental problems?

Because I love nature (I like science)

How did you come to contemplate decision analysis and why?

That is what my talk is about

If you had to be shipwrecked on a deserted island, but all your human needs—such as food and water—were taken care of, what two items would you want to have with you?

  • Binoculars
  • Karen

What is the hardest career decision you have made, would you change it if you could?

Probably the decision to move from Adelaide to Brisbane (University of Queensland). Hard for mainly personal reasons and good in the end.

What is your best piece of advice for an early career researcher in the environmental sphere?

Do what you like doing not what you think you should do.  Follow your passion and if you think you have had an idea that is a bit left field, pursue that.

Finally, please tell us about your role at The Nature Conservancy?

I am The Chief Scientist for The Nature Conservancy.  The Nature Conservancy has about 4000 people and over 300 scientists working in over 70 countries to protect the lands and waters on which all life depends.  The Nature Conservancy is a science and evidence-based organisation that prides itself on delivering solutions for nature and people on the ground and at scale.  As such, I am responsible for all our science and assisting with much of our strategy (along with other senior leaders in the organisation).  Being a decision scientist has equipped me well for this role.