Mathematician & senior lecturer

    Kate Helmstedt

    Kate Helmstedt, mathematician

    Water is vital to conservation and agriculture, and maintaining a good balance requires a lot of maths – just ask Kate Helmstedt

    In Queensland, the chemicals used on farms can enter the water system and make their way to the reef. Kate is a mathematician and senior lecturer at QUT and is researching how different regulations might influence farmers’ decisions and ultimately change their behaviour.

    “The choices farmers make on their land – such as how much fertiliser to use and what they do with their rubbish – have an impact on water quality and speed up the decline of the Great Barrier Reef,” says Kate.

    Kate works with a multidisciplinary team that includes social scientists, economists and behavioural scientists to model different policies. “There are lots of things society gets from land. We need to feed people, we need places to live, we need recreation,” says Kate. “We can use mathematics to trade off all those different objectives so we can balance our needs with biodiversity conservation.”

    Kate’s study and career path

    • Bachelor of Mathematics and PhD, QUT
    • Research assistant, CSIRO
    • Research fellow and lecturer, QUT

    This article was created in partnership with QUT and originally appears in the QUT STEM Guide 2022. 

    Chloe Walker

    Author: Chloe Walker

    Chloe is a freelance writer and editor from Melbourne. She loves talking to people about their passions, whether that’s STEM, arts, business, or something else entirely!


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