Interim Board

The executive committee was the peak body of the governance structure for the concept feasibility phase of the Reef Restoration and Adaptation Program and forms the interim board for the unincorporated joint venture, currently being established, to govern the RRAP R&D Program. Its functions include:

  • strategic oversight of the program, facilitating resolution of matters beyond the terms of the steering committee

  • strategic planning and program governance.

Chair: Professor Rob Vertessy


Dr Paul Hardisy, Chief Executive Officer, Australian Institute of Marine Science

Dr Peter Mayfield, CSIRO

Anna Marsden, Great Barrier Reef Foundation

Professor Chris Cocklin, James Cook University

Professor Christopher Barner-Kowollik, Queensland University of Technology

Professor Bronwyn Harch, The University of Queensland

Professor Mary Spongberg, Southern Cross University

Rob Vertessy (Chair)

Professor Rob Vertessy has a PhD from the Australian National University (1990) and is widely published in the field of hydrology. He led a distinguished career in water research, serving as Chief Executive of the Cooperative Research Centre for Catchment Hydrology (2002–2004) and then Chief of CSIRO’s Land and Water Division (2004–2007). In late 2006, Rob was seconded to the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet to design a national water information strategy as part of the Australian government’s National Plan for Water Security. He then joined the Bureau of Meteorology in 2007 to oversee its implementation as a new Bureau service, forming and then leading the Climate and Water Division (2007-2011). Rob served as CEO of the Bureau of Meteorology (2011-2016). After retiring from the Australian Public Service in April 2016, Rob took up a part-time role at the University of Melbourne as an Enterprise Professor in Water Resources, where he undertakes research on water security. Rob heads Global Change Advisory, a consulting company focused on environmental intelligence. In this capacity he has recently advised governments in India, Pakistan, Iran, Jordan, Laos and Cambodia on water reform and water information. He chairs the Murray Darling Basin Authority Advisory Committee on Social, Economic and Environmental Science. Recently he led the Australian Government’s Independent Assessment into the fish deaths in the lower Darling river. Rob is a Fellow of the Australian Academy of Technology and Engineering (ATSE) and chairs their Water Forum. He chairs the Advisory Committee on Social, Economic and Environmental Sciences (ACSEES) for the Murray Darling Basin Authority (MDBA) as well as the governing panel for the Water and Environment Research Program, administered by the MDBA.

Anna Marsden

Anna is Managing Director of the Great Barrier Reef Foundation (GBRF) where she has charted the development of a refreshed portfolio of Reef programs and led the organisation to achieve fundraising growth, bringing together corporate and private philanthropy with government, science and communities. Anna has worked in leadership roles across the not-for-profit and creative industries for almost  20 years. She was CEO of Queensland Ballet, leading a major change program that achieved enormous growth. Other previous roles include General Manager – Creative for corporate communications agency Rowland, Development Director of the Queensland Art Gallery and GoMA, and General Manager at the Institute of Modern Art. She has also held board positions with the Brisbane Festival, Brisbane Powerhouse and Circa. Anna was awarded the Australian Institute of Management’s Not for Profit Manager of the Year (2013), a Winston Churchill Memorial Fellowship (2003) and Young Arts Manager of the Year (2001). Anna sits on the GBRF’s International Scientific Advisory Committee.

Bronwyn Harch

Professor Bronwyn Harch is Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Research) and Vice-President (Research) at The University of Queensland. She is an applied statistician with 22 years’ experience leading and undertaking research focused at the nexus of agriculture and environmental systems. Bronwyn is passionate about making an impact by generating knowledge, technology and practices that make our world more sustainable, secure and resilient. She is a member of Innovation Science Australia (ISA) and The Great Barrier Reef Independent Science Panel (ISP) among other programs. More information 

Chris Cocklin

Professor Chris Cocklin is Provost and Deputy Vice Chancellor (Research and Innovation) at James Cook University, with oversight responsibility for the six colleges of the university, and line management responsibility for the two academic divisions in which the colleges are situated. He also holds portfolio responsibility for the Division of Research and Innovation, Division of Student Life and the Indigenous Education and Research Centre. He is Director of the North Queensland Commercialisation Company and of JCU Enterprises Pty Ltd, and a member of the following committees and boards: Great Barrier Reef Foundation International Scientific Advisory Committee; ARC Centre of Excellence for Australian Biodiversity and Heritage Executive Committee; CRC for Water Sensitive Cities Research Advisory Committee and Townsville Industrial Development Board and Reef Integrated Monitoring and Reporting Steering Group.

Christopher Barner-Kowollik

Professor Christopher Barner-Kowollik is the Deputy Vice-Chancellor, Research and Innovation, and Vice-President of the Queensland University of Technology (QUT). A graduate in chemistry from Gottingen University, Germany, Christopher joined the University of New South Wales in early 2000 rising to lead the Centre for Advanced Macromolecular Design in 2006 as one of its directors. He returned to Germany to the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT) in 2008, where he established and led a Centre of Excellence in soft matter synthesis and served as the Head of the Chemical Technology and Polymer Chemistry School. He moved to QUT in early 2017 and established QUT's Soft Matter Materials Laboratory, now one of the world's premier macromolecular laboratories. Christopher's research achievements have been recognised by an array of national and international awards including the coveted Erwin Schrodinger Award of the German Helmholtz Association, the Belgian Polymer Medal, the United Kingdom Macro Medal as well as national awards by the Royal Australian Chemical Institute, the Royal Society of New South Wales, an ARC Professorial Fellowship and an ARC Laureate Fellowship. He is a Fellow of the Australian Academy of Science, the Royal Society of Chemistry and the Royal Australian Chemical Institute. 

Mary Spongberg

Professor Mary Spongberg is Deputy Vice Chancellor of Research at Southern Cross University. She is a cultural historian who has an established international research career in two major and distinctive fields of humanities and social science research: historiography and medical history. AT SCU she provides strategic oversight to the university’s research activities across campuses at Lismore, Coffs Harbour and the Gold Coast. She has held roles at the University of Sydney, Macquarie University and the University of Technology, where she was Dean of Arts and Social Sciences and established the Centre for the Advancement of Indigenous Knowledges, the Centre for Climate Justice and the History Lab. She sits on the Board of the Northern Rivers Legal Centre and is committed to securing social justice for vulnerable populations.


Paul Hardisty

Dr Paul Hardisty is the Chief Executive Officer of the Australian Institute of Marine Science.  An honours graduate in geological engineering from the University of British Columbia, Canada, he has a masters in hydrology, and a PhD in environmental engineering, from Imperial College, London. He has been a visiting professor in environmental engineering at Imperial College, London, since 1999, and is an adjunct Professor at the University of Western Australia. Paul has worked extensively in marine and coastal environments and on marine research projects. He was the founder, owner and leader of successful international environmental consultancy Komex Environmental Ltd, and has held senior leadership positions with Worley Parsons and CSIRO. Paul sits on the Great Barrier Reef Foundation’s International Scientific Advisory Committee.


Peter Mayfield

Dr Peter Mayfield is CSIRO’s Executive Director – Environment, Energy and Resources. He oversees approximately 1400 researchers working to provide science and technology solutions to increase the value Australia derives from its vast energy and minerals resources, while maintaining and enhancing our unique environment. He holds a PhD in chemical engineering from The University of Queensland, and has worked in research and development for more than 25 years in both industry and government. During his 20 years at BHP (later BHP Billiton), he was responsible for delivering research solutions across the company’s global businesses. His senior research management roles at CSIRO include: Chief of Technology and Director of the Energy Business Unit. Under his leadership, CSIRO research has made a range of contributions from developing technologies for more greenhouse-effective ways to use fossil fuels, to developing and integrating renewable technologies - such as solar and wind, and finding more efficient ways to generate, distribute and use energy.