Dr Marta Yebra wins the @Science Academy Max Day Environmental Science Fellowship Award

6 April 2017

Two early-career environmental scientists are receiving a boost from the Australian Academy of Science with funding for their projects to enable bushfire risk to be mapped from space, and to conserve one of our most endangered animals. 

Dr Marta Yebra from the Australian National University and Mr Nicholas Leseberg - University of Queensland, are the first two recipients of the Academy’s Max Day Environmental Science Fellowship Award.  The Max Day Award provides up to $20,000 to support early-career researchers working on the conservation of Australia’s flora and fauna, ecologically sustainable use of resources, protection of the environment and ecosystem services.  “Not only was Max Day a champion of entomology, conservation and forestry, at 101 he is also the oldest and longest-serving Fellow of the Academy. I am very proud that we can provide this support to early-career researchers in his honour,” said Academy President Professor Andrew Holmes.

Marta's Project was entitled:  Can we predict bushfires from space?

Australia’s forests are among the most fire-prone in the world and satellite monitoring could greatly help to predict and mitigate bushfires before they occur. This space-based monitoring will be one step closer thanks to upcoming research from Dr Marta Yebra from the Fenner School of Environment and Society @AustralianNationalUniversity and @BNHCRC.  

“I can't express how much the @Science_Academy Max Day Environmental Science Fellowship Award means to me. This acknowledgement is something that I will cherish for all my life. This award opens new doors for me to achieve that personal and professional motivation by contributing to the cost to collect an essential data set as an important step towards comprehensive fire risk monitoring in Australia. I feel honoured and excited on receiving this award which signifies the importance that Australia gives to the bushfire research I do,” said Marta.

Marta will use her Max Day Award funding to conduct experiments at the National Arboretum Canberra to determine the moisture content of Australia’s native forests. Moisture content is particularly important to predicting bushfires on a large scale as it affects the likelihood of ignition occurring, as well as the severity and spread of the fire. This real-world data will be incorporated into new models that can be used to predict bushfires.

Marta will receive her award at the Academy’s annual signature science event Science at the Shine Dome on 24 May 2017.