Ecologist Dr Luke Kelly has been awarded the Woodward Medal in Science and Technology

Dr Luke Kelly has been awarded the Woodward Medal in Science and Technology for his research examining the impact of global fire patterns on the extinction risk of thousands of species.

The Woodward Medals are awarded annually for research that made a significant contribution to knowledge in a field of science and technology, or humanities and social sciences.

Dr Kelly received the award for his suite of articles on fire and biodiversity, which revealed global fire patterns threaten 4,400 species with extinction and outlined new actions that could revolutionise how society sustains biodiversity in a time of changing fire activity.

An image of Luke in a greenhouse

Dr Kelly is a Senior Lecturer in Quantitative Ecology within the School of Ecosystems and Forest Sciences. His research on ecological and evolutionary dynamics involves working closely with industry partners to promote biodiversity conservation.

He primarily uses field data and experiments to explore links between biodiversity and environmental change. He also builds models to forecast changes in animal and plant populations, which help to develop conservation strategies.

Dr Kelly enjoys co-designing studies with land managers and policymakers – and exploring Australia’s fascinating plants and animals in the field. In a recent project, experimental fires implemented by land management agencies enabled Dr Kelly’s team to demonstrate that the diversity of mammals and reptiles can remain high in areas subject to patchy planned burns, while also reducing the risk of large wildfires.

His ongoing research involves close collaboration with researchers across the Faculty of Science, and, more broadly, throughout the University via the new Wildfire Futures Hallmark Research Initiative.

Dr Kelly will receive the Woodward Medal at a ceremony later this year.