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Science committee

Nicholas Baker

Nicholas Baker is an environmental professional and Principal Environmental Consultant for Wild Environmental Consultants, who are strong advocates of science for management and positive impact projects. 

He is a Certified Environmental Practitioner which is the industry standard for environmental professionals and the Vice-President of the North Queensland Division of the Environment Institute of Australia and New Zealand.

Nicholas previously worked for the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority and has extensive experience in coastal and marine ecology and management, including impact assessment of dredging, aquaculture, and coastal development projects in the Great Barrier Reef region. He has served on several technical reference groups and management advisory committees and has managed a number of high profile and complex major projects.

Dr Terry Done

Terry Done

Dr Terry Done is an internationally renowned marine biologist and coral reef researcher who made his first foray into coral reef studies on a part time basis in 1970 while a PhD student in Zoology at a small university in New South Wales, Australia.

In 1975 he obtained a post-doctoral fellowship in coral reef ecology at James Cook University. Then in 1980, he joined the Australian Institute of Marine Science (AIMS) where he progressed through the ranks of Research Scientist until his retirement in 2007.  He has been an advisor to governments in Australia, US and Indonesia on coral reef science and management and he has written over 60 scientific papers and book chapters, with a focus on coral reefs.  The scope of his work and interests also includes the geological history of coral reefs, the processes of reef growth, effects of fishing and pollution and the effects of global climate change.  He is now an AIMS Research Associate and an Adjunct Professor at the Centre for Marine Studies, University of Queensland, positions that allow him to continue his studies and impart the benefit of his knowledge and experience to undergraduate and graduate students. 

Jos Hill

Jos Hill founded Reef Check Australia in 2001 to provide an opportunity for the general public to engage in coral reef conservation through reef monitoring and education. She served as Reef Check Australia's first Managing Director until 2009 and continues to be engaged in the organization as an advisor.

Jos is a marine ecologist and entrepreneur with over ten years of international practice in conservation. She has worked on sustainable seafood issues, designed conservation programs, advised on incentive based resource management initiatives, supported business and operational planning for sustainably-minded organizations and has led capacity-building workshops on coral reef monitoring and protected area management in the Indo Pacific and Caribbean.

Jos is now Executive Director of Olazul, a San Francisco-based non profit that designs sustainable ocean livelihoods for fishing communities in developing countries. Jos is also a two-time Packard Environment Fellow, a Kinship Conservation Fellow and a PERC Enviropreneur. She holds a Bachelor of Science degree with Honours in Biology from the University of Leeds in the U.K., a Masters of Applied Science in Natural Resource Management from James Cook University, Australia and an MBA in Sustainable Business from Presidio Graduate School, USA.

Dr Emma Kennedy

Emma Kennedy is an early-career research scientist specialising in coral reef ecology. She currently holds a position as a Research Fellow at the Global Change Institute (UQ), where she coordinates the "50 reefs" initiative, a project aiming to use the best available science to prioritise protection efforts on those coral reefs that are least vulnerable to climate change and with a capacity to repopulate degraded reefs over time.

Before moving to Queensland she completed a PhD in coral reef ecology at the University of Exeter, where she modelled the future collapse of Caribbean reef ecosystems. Emma has diverse research interests: as well as expertise in climate change impacts on reef functioning, she has worked on bioerosion (measuring how fast reef is broken down by sponges and urchins), coralline algae (investigating calcification as a resilience indicator), Symbiodinium (employing molecular techniques to explore coral-symbiont biogeography), and reef bioacoustics (listening to the noise produced by reefs to understand reef condition).

Emma is a passionate advocate for volunteer-driven science and has spent five summers helping train volunteers in coral ID and in underwater survey techniques (including ReefCheck) in Mexico, Honduras and Cuba. She is also a PADI Instructor and enjoys introducing new divers to the underwater world on her weekends. 

Dr Merryn McKinnon

Merryn McKinnon started out as a marine scientist, but she soon realised that talking to people about her science could do a lot more. She moved to science communication and has stayed there ever since in a variety of roles and countries. Merryn has slimed presidents, made children laugh and created programs and events to change ideas, inspire interest in science and to help protect the environment.

She is now a lecturer and researcher in science communication at the Centre for the Public Awareness of Science at the Australian National University. Her teaching and research focuses on helping the scientists, public health workers and policy makers of tomorrow to communicate clearly and with influence, and identifying ways of creating meaningful public engagement.

Semone Rainer-Smith

Semone Rainer-Smith is an environmental scientist with industry experience spanning both marine and terrestrial environmental management.  She is an experienced environmental and project manager with over 15 years' experience in conservation, heavy industry and consulting.  Semone has worked nationally and internationally, project managing Government, NGO and industry funded projects.

Semone's primary interests include water quality management, water chemistry and corporate compliance.  Her current research focuses on water chemistry, the synergistic actions of chemical compounds and their health implications.

Her qualifications include B. Environmental Management, UTAS, B.S.Sc QUT, Dip App.Sc, Lead ISO Auditor, Lead Incident Investigator, Training and Assessment, WH&S and numerous industry tickets.  She is also currently completing her Masters by Research (Science and Engineering) at QUT.

Dr Chris Roelfsema

Chris Roelfsema is scientist/lecturer at University of Queensland since 1998. His research focuses on integrating field and remote sensing satellite or airborne imagery to study coral reef and seagrass environments. As a result, he gained knowledge and skills in:  marine biology; identification of coral, seagrass, algae, and inverts; and various marine surveying methods and developed techniques for gathering georeferenced photos of bottom types. For the research he mapped or monitored rocky reefs, seagrass and coral reefs in: Australia (e.g. Moreton Bay Marine Park, Wolf Rock, Heron Reef, Lizard, Swains, Coral Sea), and Asia Pacific (e.g. Fiji, Cook Island, Solomon's, Palau). Chris has various degrees: BsC hydrographic surveying, MsC Geodetic Engineer, PgDip Marine Science and PhD in coral reef remote sensing. Since 1981 he has been an active diver, and has trained people in all kinds of diving and first aid skills. He has trained people in various marine surveying methods, organised volunteer based marine monitoring projects, is active supporter of Reef Check and CoralWatch, and is Reef Check trainer since 2010.

Dr Marie-Lise Schläppy

Marie-Lise Schläppy has been part of the RCA team since 2009, when she was the Science Operations Manager. Since that time, Marie-Lise has continued to support publications and conference presentations to share RCA findings.

Marie-Lise is a Research Fellow at the University of Highlands and Islands in Scotland. The focus of her research is effects of anthropogenic impacts (offshore wind, wave and tide) on marine sessile invertebrate assemblages. The methods that she uses for this work are SCUBA diving, video transects, mosaicking and remotely operated vehicles.

In addition, Marie-Lise continues her work started during her PhD at the Max Planck Institute of Marine Microbiology in Bremen on sponge microbes and the microbial processes of their associated unicellular symbionts. For this, she uses microsensors in laboratory experiments and in situ. Marie-Lise is also interested in marine citizen science and believe in the power of each citizen to help the marine environment.

Dr Clive Wilkinson

Clive Wilkinson

Clive Wilkinson is the Coordinator of the Global Coral Reef Monitoring Network that operates in more than 80 countries and publishes the 'Status of Coral Reefs of the World' reports every 2 years. These reports have appeared in 1998, 2000, 2002, 2004 and the latest in 2008 reported that we have lost 19% of our reefs, due mostly to human damage; with a further 35% seriously threatened in the next few decades. These predictions do not consider climate change which looms as the greatest threat to the future of coral reefs. The GCRMN also published reports on the effects on coral reefs of the Indian Ocean tsunami of 2004 and the massive bleaching in the Caribbean in 2005. Clive was the co- author with Jos Hill on the compilation of coral reef monitoring methods, that was also published by the GCRMN in association with Reef Check Australia. 

Before this he was the Chief Technical Advisor for a coastal resource research program in Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines, Singapore and Thailand for 5 years. This program focused on training in coral reef and mangrove monitoring methods developed jointly by Asian scientists and those from the Australian Institute of Marine Science.  This resulted in a book of monitoring methods that is still regarded as the 'bible' of methods.

He was the Chair of the United Nations Global Task Team on the Implications of Global Climate Change and Coral Reefs from 1991 to 1995 and co-authored the definitive report on climate change and reefs in 1994. The predictions proved to be conservative as 4 years later, the world experienced devastating El Niño and La Niña coral bleaching that effectively knocked out 16% of the world's coral reefs.

Clive worked as an active field scientist on the ecology of the Great Barrier Reef at the Australian Institute of Marine Science from 1980 to 2006. His research was principally on the nutrition of corals and sponges, and he has published more than 100 scientific articles. He received BSc and PhD training in marine microbiology and ecology from the University of Queensland, doing research on coral reef sponges at Heron Island.  He is now based at the Reef and Rainforest Research Centre in Townsville Australia.