Researcher biography

Environmental systems modelling and analysis

Kate received her BE (Chemical Hons I) and BSc (Maths) from UQ in 1994. After working as a process engineer in New Zealand, she completed her PhD in environmental engineering at the University of Western Australia 1999-2002.

Dr O'Brien has been lecturing in chemical and environmental engineering at UQ since 2002, with some interruptions to care for her family.

Her research area is environmental systems modelling and analysis. Working in collaboration with ecologists, engineers, scientists and social scientists, she develops and applies models at multiple scales to investigate environmental problems. Dr O'Brien uses a range of modelling techniques (incorporating process-based, statistical, conceptual and qualitative models), depending on the key questions of the project, data availability, expertise within the team, current process understanding and pre-existing model availability.

Dr O'Brien has also completed other applied projects, including modelling workforce diversity and the dynamics of part-time work.