Honours, January 2005-October 2005 (Jointly supervised with Prof. Hugh Possingham), University of Queensland

Research Assistant, July 2008-current, University of Queensland

I am a PhD student in the Environmental Science Group at the University of Melbourne. My supervisors are Prof Mark Burgman here at Uni Melb and Dr Petra Kuhnert at CSIRO.

My thesis is looking at quantitative approaches to defining and incorporating expert knowledge into environmental management decisions. Expert knowledge provides an important potential source of information in data-poor decision scenarios, and tools for the robust incorporation of expert opinion into decision making have the potential to considerably assist decision-makers in conservation settings.

Important and interesting questions that arise in the study of expert judgment include

  • What is a good expert?
  • How should a decision maker incorporate an expert’s opinion into his own?
  • How should conflicting expert opinions be resolved?
  • Is there an appropriate quantitative measure of the knowledge of a group of experts?

More generally, my research interests lie in (quantitative) conservation priority setting, and in decision tradeoffs, from both a theoretical and psychological perspective. I dislike arbitrary decision making.

I completed my undergraduate degree in mathematics and genetics at the University of Queensland, and was lucky enough to do my honours year with Prof Hugh Possingham and Dr Kerrie Wilson looking at incorporating socioeconomic factors into global conservation priorities.

I maintain an interest in spatial conservation planning, and recently I have been involved in some consultancy work with Dr Wilson looking at how to prioritise restoration activities at the Irvine Ranch Natural Landmark in Southern California.

Current address:

School of Botany

University of Melbourne

tel:  +61 3 8344 3305




Speirs-bridge, A., F. Fidler, M. F. McBride, L. Flander, G. Cumming, and M. Burgman. in press. Reducing overconfidence in the interval judgments of experts. Risk Analysis.


Bode, M., K. Wilson, M. McBride, and H. Possingham. 2008. Optimal dynamic allocation of conservation funding among priority regions. Bulletin of Mathematical Biology 70:2039-2054.

Underwood, E. C., M. R. Shaw, K. A. Wilson, P. Kareiva, K. R. Klausmeyer, M. F. McBride, M. Bode, S. A. Morrison, J. M. Hoekstra, and H. P. Possingham. 2008. Protecting Biodiversity When Money Matters: Maximizing Return on Investment. PLoS One 3(1): e1515.

Wilson, K. A., E. C. Underwood, S. A. Morrison, K. R. Klausmeyer, W. W. Murdoch, B. Reyers, G. Wardell-Johnson, P. A. Marquet, P. W. Rundel, M. F. McBride, R. L. Pressey, M. Bode, J. M. Hoekstra, S. J. Andelman, M. Looker, C. Rondinini, P. Kareiva, M. R. Shaw, and H. P. Possingham. 2007. Maximising the Conservation of the World’s Biodiversity: What to do, Where and When. PLoS Biology. 5. e233

McBride, M. F., K. A. Wilson, M. Bode, and H. P. Possingham. 2007. Incorporating the effects of socioeconomic uncertainty into priority setting for conservation investment. Conservation Biology 21: 1463-1474.

Wilson, K. A., M. F. McBride, M. Bode, and H. P. Possingham. 2006. Prioritising global conservation efforts. Nature. 440:337-340.

Under review


Burgman, M. A., A. Carr, L. Godden, R. Gregory, M. F. McBride, and L. Maguire. Who is an expert? Defining expertise for environmental risk assessment

McBride, M. F., Burgman, M. A. How to be a better expert.

McBride, M. F., K. A. Wilson, J. Burger, Y. Fang,  M. Lulow, D. Olson, M. O’Connell3, and H. P. Possingham. Mathematical problem for definition for restoration planning

Wilson, K. A., M. Lulow, J. Burger, Y. Fang, C. Andersen, D. Olson, M. O’Connell, and M. F. McBride. Prioritising restoration on the Irvine Ranch.



Burgman, M., F. Fidler, M. McBride, T. Walshe, and B. Wintle. 2007. Eliciting expert judgments: literature review. Australian Center for Excellence in Risk Analysis


Research Links:

Australian Center of Excellence for Risk Analysis

Environmental Science Group, School of Botany

School of Psychological Science, La Trobe