Researcher biography

Dr Jill Fernandes is a decision scientist at the Queensland Alliance for Agriculture and Food Innovation, The University of Queensland. Decision science is the field of research concerned with making optimal choices based on available information. Practitioners of decision science use a suite of qualitative and quantitative methods from political science, behavioural economics, cognitive and social psychology, neuroscience, and computer science to inform decision-making at the individual and population levels. Dr Fernandes uses decision science to inform evidence-based policy in government and other sectors. Through her work, Dr Fernandes aims to empower people to make better decisions about the messy, complex problems facing our society.

Dr Fernandes joined The University of Queensland in 2017 after concluding her Fulbright Scholarship research on mosquito control in Germany and her PhD in Environmental Science and Policy at the University of Miami. Trained as an interdisciplinary scientist, Dr Fernandes currently undertakes research in the field of decision science with a focus on policy problems and decisions in animal welfare. She collaborates with a wide variety of organisations with an interest in animal welfare to help them clarify their options and make better decisions.

Specifically, Dr Fernandes is interested in the following areas:

Evidence-based decisions

  • How do we capture evidence that truly reflects what we are trying to understand (e.g. what an animal is experiencing)?
  • How do we make decisions with incomplete evidence?
  • How do we incorporate evidence into decisions along with normative, economic, and social considerations?

Adoption of 'best practices'

  • How does an individual decide to change his or her practices (e.g. to adopt best practices in animal welfare)?
  • What kind of decision support is most effective for promoting practice change?
  • How does social interaction influence the adoption of best practices?

Social influences on decision-making

  • Which groups influence policy decisions and how?
  • How does social interaction influence decisions at the individual level?
  • How do power dynamics within groups influence collective decisions?

'Wicked' or complex problems

  • How can we make better decisions when there is uncertainty about the problem and the solution?
  • How can diverse stakeholders work together to address wicked problems more effectively?
  • How can we make decision-making more transdisciplinary, adaptive, and participatory?

Civil society and social change

  • How does civil society influence policy decisions?
  • How can civil society contribute most effectively to innovation?
  • How useful is the participation of civil society in policy development?

Areas of research