Reimagining research for a positive impact

Reimagining research for a positive impact
Reimagining research for a positive impact

The College of Engineering and Computer Science is pleased to announce the appointment of notable environmental scientist Dr Marta Yebra as a Senior Lecturer in Environment and Engineering.

The appointment is a joint hire between our newly established Research School of Aerospace, Mechanical, and Environmental Engineering (RSAMEE), and the Fenner School of Environment and Society (FSES) at the Australian National University (ANU).

Dr Yebra is a remote sensing expert; collecting data on vegetation to support informed and timely fire management.

At ANU, she will work on a joint approach to integrate innovative modelling and engineering solutions to big data; providing better information for evidence-based decision-making.

“Satellite, airborne, and underground sensors generate an unprecedented rate and scale of information. However, Big Data comes with engineering, environmental and societal challenges.”

“My research emphasises how we can use this data to estimate human exposures to environmental hazards, such as fire. This allows us to minimise danger and propose solutions for environmental sustainability and biodiversity conservation in a changing environment,” she said.

Her interdisciplinary approach strongly aligns with the priorities of both Fenner and the College of Engineering and Computer Science.

“This cross-disciplinary research is relevant for the College’s Reimagine investment, as we aim for a new type of engineering and computing that is custom-built and uses technology to provide better services for people.”

“Additionally, such a program will benefit researchers from the Fenner School, with access to the latest technology to inform environment and sustainability research, education and policy advice,” she said.

Dr Yebra’s path to academia had unconventional beginnings. Her childhood passion was dance, and she was a professional ballet dancer until an injury in her teen years.

It wasn’t until she volunteered for some fieldwork, collecting samples in a National Park in Spain, that environmental science and information systems came into the picture.

“I realised I enjoyed research and the opportunities that environmental research could bring me to be in touch with nature. I decided I wanted to be an academic,” she said.

Dr Yebra is passionate about helping fire managers in their hazard reduction burning efforts, improving awareness of fire hazards, and the effective pre-positioning of firefighting resources.

“For me, success means that my research makes a positive impact on people’s lives.”

“I would like my research to serve a broader range of management and decision-making applications. Some of the tools I have developed for fire management can be applied to other fields, like habitat mapping and species conservation,” she said.

Outside of work, Dr Yebra remains in touch with her creative side. She loves to spend time in nature, bushwalking, mountain biking and kayaking. She also enjoys playing the flute, dancing, and even runs her own professional photography service.

Dr Yebra is looking forward to starting her new appointment with RSAMEE and Fenner in October, and continuing to find creative solutions to 21st century problems.

“I am very excited about this appointment. I look forward to getting to better know the amazing scientists who work in engineering, and to contribute to new technologies that have a real positive impact!”

Photo credits: Eva van Gorsel

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