The conservation scientist received her award this evening at a black-tie dinner in the Great Hall of Parliament House.
Vice-Chancellor and President Professor Peter Høj said Dr Wilson's research built connections between ecosystems, governments and people.
"Kerrie looks at the value of the services that ecosystems provide – services such as clean air, water, food, and tourism – and the most effective ways to protect ecosystems," Professor Høj said.
"Her work helps governments to get the best return on their investment in the environment and to calculate the most effective way to protect and restore ecosystems.
"Kerrie is one of UQ's rising stars and her work epitomises our focus at UQ – to create change in the world."
Professor Høj said that in Borneo Dr Wilson and her colleagues had shown how the three nations that share the island could retain half the land as forest, provide adequate habitat for the orangutan and Bornean elephant, and achieve an opportunity cost saving of more than $50 billion.
"In Chile, they are helping to plan national park extensions that will bring recreation and access to nature to many more Chileans, while also enhancing the conservation of native plants and animals," he said.
"On the Gold Coast, they are helping to ensure that a multi-million-dollar local government investment in rehabilitation of degraded farmland is spent wisely – in the areas where it will have the biggest impact for the natural ecosystem and local communities."
Dr Wilson, an ARC Future Fellow and conservation scientist, is from the UQ School of Biological Sciences, is the ARC Centre of Excellence for Environmental Decisions (CEED) node leader and heads the Wilson Conservation Ecology Lab.