A seriously dedicated team of staff and advisors support the amazing work of our volunteers. These are the folks behind the scenes helping to ensure that the citizen science program Reef Check Australia conducts is of the highest quality, making it possible for us to continue achieving great outcomes for people and the reef.
General Manager (Tue-Fri)
Jodi Salmond is a marine researcher specializing in citizen science, conservation biology and reef ecology. Under water, she trains divers in global reef health monitoring protocols; above it, she engages and inspires through hands on research, education, and personal development to encourage everyone to become the best versions of themselves and to look after the planet.
Jodi is an adventure junkie; an acrobat and lover of life. She enjoys unique, immersive travel; her journeys leading to an adventurous outlook and MacGyver-like innovativeness. She leads by example; getting amongst the action to make things happen.
Jodi completed a BSc Honours in Marine Parasitology at JCU in Townsville, and has since worked throughout Australia and the world on a variety of marine science, conservation, and education programs. Jodi started with Reef Check Australia as a volunteer Project Officer in 2010 and came aboard as staff in 2012 through a coveted placement with the Vodafone World of Difference program. She has won several awards for her work with Reef Check Australia, and most recently was awarded a spot on the Homeward Bound Leadership Program for 2020 as a part of Cohort 5. Jodi has been instrumental in developing and delivering school education programs, expanding community outreach efforts, training volunteers and coordinating reef survey projects along the length of the Queensland coast.
Great Barrier Reef Project Coordinator - (Casual Hours)
Nathan Cook is an applied scientist and specialist in coral reef restoration and capacity building. He has been a passionate advocate for sustainability and stewardship in coral reef ecosystems in South East Asia and Australia for nearly 20 years.
A PADI Master Instructor with over 3500 dives, Nathan became a Reef Check Indo-Pacific Instructor trainer in 2013, pioneering an innovative coral reef conservation program in Thailand. Working with key partners, local community groups and large corporations, Nathan established conservation as a full time vocation building a team to deliver consistent reef based resilience projects. Workshops and training programs provided practical experience in addition to advice and guidance on financial sustainability and good governance. He has led and taught coral reef survey programs, practical coral reef conservation and marine resource management, and designed and implemented a range of experiential learning programs, including curricula focused on integrating the theory of marine management with active reef restoration techniques development and installation of coral nurseries and artificial reefs. He combines his skills and experience to pursue his passion for supporting developing countries in creating self-sustaining systems of conservation and preservation of their coral reef ecosystems.
His Masters in Marine Science is complemented by decades of practical experience in coral reef resilience assessments and restoration management. Combined with experience managing international conservation projects and his time as Manager within the Tourism & Stewardship section at the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority, Nathan has an exceptionally balanced range of experience in helping to support the health and resilience of coral reefs.
Great Barrier Reef Assistant Project Coordinator - (Casual hours)
Jenni has a background working in HR/Volunteer Management, coordinating volunteers at RSPCA Qld. She started volunteering with Reef Check Australia in 2014 and was a core diver with the University of Queensland Underwater Club’s Point Lookout and Flinders Reef Ecological Assessment projects using RCA methodology. After being inspired by citizen science, she gained an ADAS diver qualification that has facilitated fieldwork opportunities throughout Queensland and overseas with various labs at UQ and JCU.
Jenni has finally taken the “plunge” and moved to Townsville to pursue a career in Marine Science and is now studying at JCU. During university breaks, she is also part of the invasive crown of thorns starfish control team, helping to curb their damaging effects on the reef.
Jenni is extremely proud to be assisting with the coordination of Reef Check Australia activities in the Great Barrier Reef region and is looking forward to empowering others to save our reefs and oceans, just like RCA did for her.
SEQ Survey Coordinator (Casual Hours)
Julie has over 12 years of experience in Environmental Science and holds a Bachelor of Environmental Science with a major in Coastal Management. She recently completed Honours with her thesis focusing on the temporal variation and rarity in Heterobranch sea slugs. She has been an active Reef Check Australia survey diver since 2009 and has been diving and recording sea slugs on the Sunshine Coast since 2006.
She completed her Divemaster qualifications whilst living in Fiji and attained her Scientific Diver qualifications in Coffs Harbour as part of her university degree. Seeing the need for greater community involvement and education she helped to establish the Coast to Coral talk series on the Sunshine Coast. As an avid diver and a participant in numerous surveys, Julie has a solid understanding of survey planning and was excited to be able to join Reef Check Australia to facilitate the monitoring of our reefs.
SEQ Coordinator (Casual Hours)
Emily is a marine ecologist with an inherent curiosity in understanding the ecological interactions that occur within our marine environments. Seeking a career in the marine field of applied research, Emily completed her ecology studies and thesis research on the morphology of Australia’s east coast humpbacks. Much of her travels and research since has followed the migrations of baleen whales, through South America, Tonga, Southeast Alaska and the coastlines of Australia.
Having extensive involvement with research projects examining various facets of sustainability in tourism and citizen science has led her to being heavily involved in and passionate about her local citizen-science community. Her involvement with Reef Check Australia allows her to play a larger role in sharing our inextricable link to the ocean and growing a greater appreciation of safeguarding what the natural world and its inhabitants has to offer within her local community.
Proud to be a part of the inspirational RCA crew, Emily is determined to drive Reef Check Australia’s evidence-based reputation and active, solutions-focused stance in the South-East Queensland community.
Project Officer Ningaloo (Volunteer)
Gemma is a marine scientist with a focus on conservation and a passion for citizen science involvement. Hailing from a small coastal city in Western Australia, she learnt to dive and appreciate the ocean at a young age. She completed a degree in Marine Science from Murdoch University Western Australia in 2013. During this time she also became a team leader for a NGO, Reach Out Volunteers, leading expeditions in Koh Rong, Cambodia, making artificial reef pods, conducting community awareness and education programs on plastic pollution, beach clean ups and community assistance projects.
Having a history with NGOs both in Australia and internationally, she has gained a range of experiences in outreach, community involvement and scientific methodologies.
She currently resides in Exmouth and works within the Whale Shark Industry. She is a committee member of the Cape Conservationist Group, Exmouth and is working with Reef Check to help strengthen and widen the Ningaloo network. She is incredibly proud to be a part of the Reef Check Australia team, and is eager to see citizen science development within the Ningaloo region.
Graphic Designer (Volunteer)
Michelle Triana is a "design-a-holic" who lives and breathes design. Her role is to communicate thoughts, ideas and feelings into digital expressions- no easy task! She started her career in Colombia in 2004 when she started helping local music bands promote themselves both locally and abroad. In 2007 Michelle moved to Australia to follow her dream of becoming a designer and currently works as a volunteer for Reef Check Australia assisting in the area of design. She is the force behind many of our awesome infographics!
Board of Directors
The fundamental role and duty of directors of a charitable organisation is to ensure the objectives of the company, as set out in the constitution, are pursued. Our volunteer Board of Directors helps to set the objectives and overall direction of the company, including monitoring performance indicators across all areas of company business.
Board Director and Secretary
Fiona Austin is a leading Brisbane lawyer, specialising in workplace relations and safety law. She has extensive industry experience across high risk workplaces around Australia and works as in-house counsel in the energy sector. Fiona was listed by Best Lawyers® in Australia 2016 for safety and health law.
Outside of work Fiona is a mother of two and enjoys kayaking.
Joe is an award-winning communications and advocacy specialist who has worked in more than 20 countries worldwide. He has raised over A$250 million for non-profit organisations in areas including international development, the environment and Australian Indigenous health and education. Joe has also worked as a journalist, covering events such as the Sydney 2000 Olympics and reporting for one of Australia's biggest newspapers. He helped write the Oscar nominated short film Miracle Fish and designed and produced a charity advertising campaign that was named the world's best by the International Fundraising Congress. He is based in Sydney.
Richard Coleman BA, MOHS, MAICD, is CEO of The Interchange a digital culture change consultancy based in Melbourne. Richard has had a 30 year career in corporate OHS and Environment roles. Most recently he was General Manager HSE for Asciano. His expertise is in risk management, digital technology, epidemiology and organisational change.
Elissa Keenan is a corporate and public affairs leader with more than 20 years' experience in private, not-for-profit and government organisations. She has extensive experience in business transformation and change management, government lobbying, communications, sponsorship, media and crisis management. Elissa has held a number of key senior and executive roles managing corporate affairs activities.
Elissa has passion for the tourism and aviation industries. She has been Chair of the Queensland Tourism Awards Judging Panel (2012-2014), as well as member of the Australian Tourism Awards Judging Panel and the Outback Queensland Tourism Awards Judging Panel. She is a mentor with the Australian Airports Association national program to support young aviation professionals in the industry.
In her current role at Airservices Australia, she has worked in senior leadership positions across the business in Corporate and industry Affairs portfolios. Elissa has previously worked as the General Manager Corporate Affairs for Queensland Airports Limited (QAL), Executive Manager Marketplace Strategy for the Real Estate Institute of Queensland (REIQ) and was the Public Affairs Manager for Surf Life Saving Queensland for almost ten years.
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.
Mark is an Industry Director and marine researcher at the Queensland University of Technology, with a focus on coastal climate adaptation issues; including recently the Australian Government Great Barrier Reef Adaptation and Restoration Program. Mark sits on a number of marine and coastal advisory bodies.
Mark holds a PhD in oceanography and is an RYA Yachtmaster Instructor, as well as an Australian Sailing Sea Safety and Survival Instructor.
In his spare time, he teaches sailing and maritime courses and serves as a captain for Sea Shepherd.
The purpose of the volunteer Science Committee is to provide scientific advice and capacity to enable Reef Check Australia to deliver best-practice citizen science outcomes. This may include: reviewing and facilitating the interpretation and application of Reef Check Australia data, providing advice on matters of scientific interest, supporting research and management linkages and enabling effective science communication approaches.
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
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 founded Reef Check Australia in 2001 and served as Managing Director until 2009. Jos is an experienced marine ecologist and conservation practitioner. She has worked on many projects in the Asia-Pacific and Caribbean region to build local reef monitoring and management capacity. She has also worked on a variety of market-based marine conservation initiatives focused on financing sustainable fisheries, rights-based fishery management design and sustainable ocean aquaculture.
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 UK, 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.
Jos is now Associate Program Director at the Coral Reef Alliance (CORAL), based in Oakland, California. Jos leads CORAL's HawaiÊ»i programs, which are focused on mitigating stormwater and wastewater pollution, and she advises on livelihood and conservation finance projects in Indonesia and Honduras.
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.
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 associate at the University of Western Australia in Perth. The focus of her research is the effects of anthropogenic structures (offshore wind, wave and tide, oil and gas infrastructure) on marine sessile invertebrate assemblages and the biodiversity associated with those structures. The methods that she uses for this work are SCUBA diving, video transects, mosaicing 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 and in situ experiments. Marie-Lise is also interested in marine citizen science and believe in the power of each citizen to help the marine environment.
Jenn has been working on environmental science, community engagement and science communication for more than a decade. Her previous role was as Reek Check Australia's Director of Programs and Partnerships. Her professional experience encompasses training volunteers to talk about everything from armadillos to zebras at the Smithsonian's National Zoo; launching science communication strategies for the Miami Museum of Science; investigating effective approaches to conservation behaviour change for local marine issues in South Florida and developing and implementing marine citizen science programs in Australia. Jenn holds a Graduate Diploma in Marine Biology from James Cook University and a Masters of Science in Environmental Science from Florida International University.
Inspired by her first Indo-Pacific experience in Palau, Jenn moved to Australia to pursue a career that unites science and education to protect our oceans and has been involved with Reef Check Australia since 2008. She successfully implemented the RCA subtropical rocky reef monitoring program in South East Queensland; seen the expansion of monitoring coverage to more than 40 new reef sites; managed of more than a million of project funds; developed citizen science training and data resources; expanded new partnership networks; and helped to launch REEFSearch to expand public participation opportunities. Jenn is also on the management committee for the Australian Citizen Science Association.
Line Bay is an evolutionary ecologist with an interest in climate change adaption. She brings to our science committee her extensive experience in coral biology, ecology and reef restoration.
Line holds a PhD in Population Genetics from JCU, Townsville and has previously sat on numerous marine science panels and committees, including as the Chair of the Science Advisory Panel for Reef Habitat Restoration and on the expert committee for adaptive strategies to climate change in coastal ecosystems (NCCARF).
Her research integrates physiological, genetic and genomic data to understand how corals interact with their environment. Line has published dozens of science and technical papers in international journals on her specialised topics