Dr Petra Kuhnert, Research Statistician with CSIRO.
Dr Petra Kuhnert: developing new statistical methods to understand our aquatic environment
Dr Petra Kuhnert is a statistician with a keen interest in the development of new statistical methods, and applying these to environmental science problems.
1 July 2010 | Updated 14 October 2011
Dr Petra Kuhnert works on a wide range of marine and freshwater projects within CSIRO Mathematics, Informatics and Statistics, applying her knowledge to help solve complex environmental problems.
Dr Kuhnert's current research is focused on developing statistical methods to help solve problems of national significance for one of Australia’s and the world's icons, the Great Barrier Reef (GBR). This is being undertaken for the Water for a Healthy Country National Research Flagship.
For the past five years, her research has focused on two main areas:
- assimilation of deterministic and empirical models
- use of expert opinion in modelling.
The assimilation of deterministic and empirical models helps provide a framework that develops robust and scientifically defensible methodologies for estimating pollutant loads at any site in the Great Barrier Reef. It will also assist with the monitoring and modelling challenges that global warming, climate change, pollutions and their interaction, are generating.
Expert opinion in modelling focuses on the development of a framework that guides researchers through an elicitation process. This framework helps identify when expert opinion is useful, how it should be used and incorporated into Bayesian models, and highlights the potential bias and pitfalls that could arise as a result.
Dr Kuhnert has contributed to the following projects:
- developing a statistical method for estimating the abundance of pelagic (open-ocean) fish species using catch records from gillnets - this has been a difficult problem for marine scientists to solve due to the limited amounts of data collected
- developing methods for incorporating uncertainty into sediment transportation models such as SedNet in a Water for a Healthy Country Flagship project
- developing methodologies associated with the construction of a report card for the Great Barrier Reef through a Marine and Tropical Sciences Reporting Facility project.
Prior to joining CSIRO in 2005, Dr Kuhnert was with the Queensland State Government's Environmental Protection Agency.
Dr Kuhnert works on a wide range of marine and freshwater projects, applying her knowledge to help solve complex environmental problems.
Dr Kuhnert worked on the national plan for water quality and salinity, where her primary responsibility was to develop statistical methods for regionalisation, target setting and assessment.
As a Postdoctoral Research Fellow at The Ecology Centre at the University of Queensland, Australia, Dr Kuhnert developed statistical methodologies for estimating the probability of detecting a parasitic weed that was infesting crops in the southern parts of Australia and determining if this weed could be eradicated.
Dr Kuhnert has been awarded a:
Bachelor of Applied Science with Honours from the Queensland University of Technology, Queensland, Australia, in 1994
Doctor of Philosophy in Statistics, also from the Queensland University of Technology, 2002.
Dr Kuhnert has been awarded a 2010-11 Julius Award, a CSIRO award for outstanding early to mid-career scientists.
Dr Kuhnert is a member of the:
Statistical Society of Australia Inc.
The International Environmetrics Society
The Australasian Society for Bayesian Analysis.
Read more about our work in Environmental informatics: strength in numbers.