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.
Team Leader - (Casual hours)
Jenni started volunteering with Reef Check Australia in 2014 as 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, Divemaster certification and completed an MSc in Marine Biology degree at JCU which helped her transition from working in Human Resources into the Marine Sciences.
She has worked as a diver, dive supervisor and trip team leader for various projects at UQ, JCU, GBRMPA, Pacific Marine Group and Reef Check Australia focusing on coral reef and reef fish surveys, reef fish parasites, invasive crown of thorns starfish and aquarium health. She is currently the Science and Diving Officer at JCU’s Orpheus Island Research Station and Acting Station Manager for the first half of 2023 in addition to being a Team Leader with Reef Check Australia in the Great Barrier Reef region. She is always looking forward to empowering others to save our reefs and oceans, just like RCA did for her all those years ago.
Queensland Programs and Community Engagement Manager (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 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. Julie joined the staff as Team Leader and SEQ Projects Coordinator in 2020. Following a move to Bowen at the end of 2022, Julie has taken over coordinating our surveys and activities in both North Queensland and South East Queensland.
Team Leader (Casual Hours)
Ilha grew up on a small tropical island in Tanzania, East Africa and has always enjoyed being in the ocean. Her fascination with coral reefs was solidified when she first learned to SCUBA dive when she was twelve years old. Ilha moved to Australia in 2016 to pursue an undergraduate degree in science, majoring in Marine Biology. Whilst at university she became involved as a Reef Check reef health surveyor, and more recently became an ambassador.
She currently works as a research assistant (RA) at the University of Queensland assisting on a variety of different projects such as the Reef Restoration and Adaptation Program (using field, laboratory, and data science skills). Ilha is super passionate about science communication, outreach, engagement and education, which she does not get to do a lot of in her role as an RA. Therefore, she is really excited to start working as a team leader in the Quandamooka/Meanjin (Moreton Bay/Brisbane) region and looks forward to meeting and working with all the passionate local SEQ Reef Checkers!
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!
Team Leader - Land Based Activities (Casual Hours)
Pablo Fuenzalida was born in Chile, grew up for 7 years on farms in New Zealand before moving to the Sunshine Coast in Australia. Throughout his life he has resided near or on pristine coastlines spending a lot of time in and around the ocean. Since then, he’s been striving towards making marine conservation his life. Pablo has been a Reef Check Ambassador for four years and has recently come onboard as a team leader and event coordinator.
Pablo recently completed a double degree in Animal Ecology & Business (tourism, leisure & events management) at the University of the Sunshine Coast. While completing his degree he became a research assistant in Beach Ecology. He has been conducting research into marine debris for over two years, cleaning beaches from K’gari to Minjerribah and everywhere in between in Southeast Queensland. He is now undertaking an honours degree modelling the movements of Grey Nurse Sharks and comparing them to their environment, to see how climate change will affect them in the future.
Pablo also works with Sunshine Coast Council in the citizen science realm, assisting them in creating new projects to engage the regional community in new, innovative & inclusive ways. Pablo is extremely passionate about conservation science, science communication & citizen science. Being a team leader at Reef Check combines all his interests into one role, which is what has driven Pablo to volunteer and work with Reef Check Australia.
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
Bachelor of Arts / Bachelor of Laws with Honours, James Cook University
Graduate Certificate OHS Management, Curtin University of Technology
Fiona is a Brisbane lawyer. She has extensive industry experience across
onshore and offshore workplaces around Australia and works as in-house
counsel in the electricity industry. Fiona has previously lectured as a
sessional academic within the faculty of health at Queensland University of
Master of Business Administration from Southern Cross University,
Master of Business (Communication) from Queensland University of Technology (QUT),
Bachelor of Business (Public Relations) from QUT
Elissa has vast executive experience within the tourism, aviation, government and peak body sectors. Elissa was appointed Chief Executive Officer of Ecotourism Australia in early 2022, the peak body for ecotourism and sustainable tourism in Australia and the Pacific. Ecotourism Australia is recognised as pioneer in sustainable tourism, having developed the world’s first national Ecotourism certification more than 20 years ago which is still today recognised by the Global Sustainable Tourism Council (GSTC) as world’s best practice. Passionate about the industry, she has been a member of the Australian Tourism Awards Judging Panel, Chair of the Queensland Tourism Awards Panel, and judge with the Outback Queensland Tourism Awards.
She 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 and advocacy, sponsorship, media and crisis management. Elissa has held a number of key senior and executive roles including with Airservices Australia (national air navigation services and aviation rescue fire fighting services), Queensland Airports Limited, the Real Estate Institute of Queensland and Surf Life Saving and recently supported Virgin Australia in a business transformation change program.
Elissa is a keen advocate for female representation in leadership and is a mentor and Corporate Executive Board Member with Women in Aviation International. She loves to travel across Australia and beyond, has just two continents still to see (Africa and Antarctica), but firmly believes our reefs, beaches, wildlife, rainforests, outback and nature-based experiences in Australia are among the best - if not the best - in the world.
Bachelor of Engineering (Civil; University of Melbourne), PhD in mathematics
(Oceanography – UNSW), MBA (Utas), MAICD, Fellow of the Institution of
Engineers Australia, AMSA Master 4.
Mark is the Principle Engineer for reef restoration at the Australian Institute of
Marine Science (AIMS). Mark sits on a number of marine and coastal
advisory bodies and boards and has held senior management roles in CSIRO
and global consultancies including AECOM. Prior to joining AIMS Mark led
the Knowledge to Innovation capability at QUT which focused on developing
industry partnerships with the University. Mark is an adjunct Professor at QUT
and the Griffith University Centre for Coastal Management.
In his spare time, Mark teaches sailing and maritime courses and serves as a
captain for Sea Shepherd. Mark is an RYA Yachtmaster Instructor, as well as
an Australian Sailing Sea Safety and Survival Instructor and an accomplished
Dr Matt Curnock is a social-environmental scientist based in Townsville,
Australia. His scientific career over the past two decades has encompassed
numerous natural resource management, climate adaptation, tourism, and
Great Barrier Reef-related projects, including the design and implementation of
integrated social and ecological monitoring programs for adaptive resource
management.He has previously worked as a marine park manager and specialist
dive guide, and is an accomplished underwater photographer.
Masters in Applied Finance, Macquarie University. Bachelor of Commerce,
Deakin University. Certified Practising Accountant (CPA)
Ashley is currently Principal Risk and Compliance specialist at Brisbane City
Council. Previously he held senior roles in risk management at AustSafe
Super and Sunsuper and was Group Manager Risk and Assurance at Ergon
Energy from 2006 to 2017. Ashley has over 25 years experience in
accounting, finance, insurance, risk management, compliance, and business
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.
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.
Chris is an environmental and sustainability professional who has worked in industry for over 20 years. He is passionate about delivering results that advance environmental and sustainability outcomes. Chris specialises in environmental and sustainability issues in the construction industry and is Laing O’Rourke environmental function leader. He has significant experience across many construction industry sectors including public and private infrastructure development, building construction, mining and resources, defence and rail construction and maintenance.
Dr Matt Curnock is a social-environmental scientist based in Townsville, Australia. His scientific career over the past two decades has encompassed numerous natural resource management, climate adaptation, tourism, and Great Barrier Reef-related projects, including the design and implementation of integrated social and ecological monitoring programs for adaptive resource management.He has previously worked as a marine park manager and specialist dive guide, and is an accomplished underwater photographer.
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