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Dr Lei Gao

Senior Research Scientist


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Dr Lei Gao is a complex system modeller. His research focuses on understanding complex system dynamics and exploring optimal/adaptive/sustainable solutions in land and water resource systems, through integrated systems modelling, high-performance computer simulations, socio-economic analyses, and artificial intelligence techniques. He has developed his expertise across multiple disciplines. This is reflected by his flexibility in working in a range of multidisciplinary projects and teams. He has a very strong technical background and has worked in industry, university, and CSIRO on a broad range of fields throughout his career: global sustainability, water resource management (groundwater, surface water, and mine water), land resource management, fisheries management, urban systems, and complex cyber network systems. He has worked for three CSIRO Business Units and delivered high-quality research outcomes. The research findings generated from these projects have been published in prestigious journals (including two Nature papers) and featured by a number of news media (including Future Earth, ABC Rural, PhysOrg, Australian Resources & Investment, ECOS, Ars Technica,, Enviroinfo, and CSIRO News) and generated a wide range of news reports and enquires from the industry.

His research interests and expertise have been developed in the following areas:
(1) complex systems modelling, simulation, and impact assessment
(2) sustainability assessment and visualised trade-off analysis
(3) adaptive management and robust decision-making under uncertainty
(4) sensitivity analysis, uncertainty analysis, and risk assessment
(5) agent-based modelling, evolutionary optimisation, and machine learning
(6) integrated hydro-economic modelling, market-based policy design, and socio-economic analysis
(7) applications of the above expertise on managing complex environmental systems, especially land and water systems

Current Roles

  • CSIRO Delegation Leader
    Ecological connectivity of the River Murray: managing ecological outcomes and water quality risks through integrated river management — Goyder Institute

  • Project Leader
    Complex integrated systems and robust decision making under deep uncertainty — CSIRO

Achievements and Awards

  • 2018-2018

    CSIRO Chairman’s Medal for Science Excellence

  • 2018-2018

    Impactful Publication Award
    CSIRO Land and Water

  • 2017-2020

    Julius Career Award — the awards are designed to enhance the careers of "exceptional early to mid-career scientists"

  • 2017-2017

    The second Prize of ‘Social Science Outstanding Achievement’, Shandong Province, China
    Social Science Outstanding Achievement Award Selection Committee, Shandong Province

  • 2017-2017

    Publons Peer Review Award — Top reviewers for CSIRO

  • 2016-2016

    Lead author of a highly cited paper published in 2016
    Thomson Reuters

  • 2015-2015

    Director Award (Impact Delivery Award)
    CSIRO Agriculture

  • 2015-2015

    Early Career Research Excellence Prize
    Modelling and Simulation Society of Australia and New Zealand

  • 2001-2001

    The First Prize of the 17th Annual International Mathematical Contest in Modeling (Top 5% of 496 participated teams representing 238 institutions from 11 countries)
    Consortium for Mathematics and Its Applications

  • 2001-2001

    The Second Prize in National Mathematical Contest in Modeling, Shanghai
    Chinese University Mathematical Contest in Modeling

  • 2000-2000

    The Second Prize in National Mathematical Contest in Modeling, China + The First Prize in National Mathematical Contest in Modeling, Shanghai
    Chinese University Mathematical Contest in Modeling