Dr Karen Vella is an urban and regional planner with over 20 years' experience in sustainability and natural resource management policy and research. Dr Vella has worked closely with Natural Resource Management Groups, the Queensland and Australian governments, peak bodies, conservation groups, and industry to improve frameworks for implementing and evaluating progress towards sustainability. Her research considers the interplay between complex governance (decision making) and environmental outcomes. A key aim of her work is to improve adaptive decision making in the Reef.
Dr Vella is a first-generation Australian with a mixed Maltese and Irish family heritage. Her passion for the environment and environmental conservation began early in life growing up on a sugar cane farm in far North Queensland. Dr Vella holds a Bachelor of Regional and Town Planning (with Hons) and a PhD in Sustainability Governance from the University of Queensland. Dr Vella is a member of the Planning Institute of Australia.