Entry for:2018 Queensland Women in STEM Prize
1. Please provide a short summary of your research, project or technology.
The world population is over seven and a half billion and will be nearly 12 billion by the end of the century. Food security is a global issue. Aquaculture should help: 50% of habitable land has been used, but less than 1% of the potential aquaculture area. A big challenge in increasing aquaculture is the spread of disease. Aquatic health depends on marine microorganisms: they regulate their environment as they interact, reproduce and mutate, and can wipe out aquaculture populations through disease. But we do not understand these processes well enough. We must know more about microbes’ evolution to keep aquaculture healthy. I use evolutionary game theory to provide insight into competition and foraging processes of aquatic microbes. We aim to unravel the underlying mechanisms in disease spread, helping to prevent it. To achieve this, we are developing a new mathematical theory that explains how microbes adapt.