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Dr Sam Nicol

Research Scientist


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Dr Sam Nicol is a senior research scientist at CSIRO Environment and is part of the Conservation Decisions Team.

Dr Nicol is an ecological modeller and decision scientist who specialises in decision techniques to help managers allocate limited natural resources over time to achieve environmental goals. He uses techniques from a broad range of disciplines to help decision-makers structure and understand decisions and provide scientifically robust and defensible recommendations at the appropriate level of complexity for application. Sam combines decision-making techniques from mathematics, economics and artificial intelligence with skills in small-group facilitation and ecological modelling to generate practical solutions for managers. His research can be used to logically formulate decisions, highlight trade-offs and prioritise actions.

Dr Nicol has published more than 50 refereed journal papers, including articles in leading journals such as PNAS, Nature Communications, Journal of Applied Ecology, and Methods in Ecology and Evolution.

Sam is currently Environmental Natural Capital coordinator at CSIRO. Natural Capital refers to nature's assets; i.e. the stocks of resources such as clean air, water, soil and living things which produce flows of ecosystem services that have value because they benefit humans. A key part of the Natural Capital portfolio is natural capital accounting, which uses accounting techniques to make these nature's services material to business, i.e. making nature visible to the economy. Sam's coordinator role will integrate CSIRO's capability in Natural Capital and provide a connector role to help CSIRO work more effectively with business and government to deliver the Natural Capital agenda.

Current Roles

  • Natural Capital Coordinator
    Coordinating CSIRO's portfolio of work in Natural Capital, including streamlining CSIRO's capability to provide an integrated offering to clients. The role will better connect CSIRO with our partners and clients to support the implementation of Natural Capital-related work around Australia.

Academic Qualifications

  • 2010

    Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)
    The University of Queensland

  • 2004

    Bachelor of Science/Bachelor of Engineering (Hons 1st Class)
    The University of Western Australia

Professional Experiences

  • 2012

    Postdoctoral Research Fellow
    CSIRO Ecosystem Sciences

  • 2010-2012

    Postdoctoral Research Fellow
    University of Alaska Fairbanks

  • 2015

    Research Scientist
    CSIRO Land and Water

Achievements and Awards

  • 2012

    Outstanding paper award in Computational Sustainability
    Association for the Advancement of Artificial Intelligence (AAAI-12)

  • 2015-2016

    Invited Participant
    National Institute for Mathematical Biology and Synthesis (NIMBioS) Working Group “Area contributions of habitat for migratory species" (Knoxville TN)

  • 2018-2020

    CSIRO Julius Career Award for outstanding early-mid career researchers

Community and Corporate Citizenship

  • Jan 2018-June 2022

    Associate editor, Ecology and Evolution

  • December 2019-Present

    Review editor, Models in Ecology and Evolution

We have publications by Dr Sam Nicol