Steering committee

The steering committee reports to the executive committee  through chairperson David Mead. Its functions include:

  • Overseeing the progress and strategic direction of the program
  • allocating resources, and monitoring and coordinating research activities 
  • identifying and defining project intellectual property
  • approving proposed publications and disclosures of information to ensure they don’t threaten the protection of foreseeably valuable intellectual property
  • assessing progress against milestones and budget
  • ensuring resources are adequate to meet requirements
  • recording and reporting on outcomes to the executive committee.

Steering committee decisions are advisory in nature. It meets monthly with additional meetings as required.

David Mead (Chair)

David Mead is the Executive Director of Strategy and Development at the Australian Institute of Marine Science (AIMS) and Director of the Reef Restoration and Adaptation Program, chairing the program’s steering committee. Previously, David spent 12 years as the AIMS Chief Operating Officer leading operations, corporate, business growth and government funding. He also oversaw areas of research and the development of research infrastructure. He developed the concept of the world-class National Sea Simulator overseeing the design and establishment of the facility. He has an honours degree in mechanical engineering, a Master of Business Technology and is a graduate of the Oxford University Advanced Leadership Program. Prior to joining AIMS, David was a senior manager at Snowy Hydro Limited for 14 years, overseeing strategic planning and business development, new business ventures and leading functions responsible for asset management, maintenance and production operations. During this time, he was the inaugural recipient of the Australian Institute of Engineers Steve Maxwell Asset Management Leadership Award. David began his career with New Zealand Electricity, moving to BHP where he spent several years as a research engineer working on mining automation, explosives and blasting.  Learn more...

Britta Schaffelke

Dr Britta Schaffelke is the Research Program Director, A Healthy and Sustainable Great Barrier Reef at the Australian Institute of Marine Science (AIMS). Her expertise is in the research and management of environmental impacts on tropical ecosystems, especially those related to deteriorating marine water quality. The inshore Great Barrier Reef has been the focus of her research for the past 20 years. Prior to joining AIMS in 2005 as a researcher, she held a variety of positions spanning marine ecological research, environmental management and knowledge exchange at institutions including: CSIRO, the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority and the CRC for Reef Research. Britta holds a PhD from the University of Hamburg, migrating to Australia from Germany in 1995 for post-doctoral research at AIMS. She is a member of the Australian Government’s Reef 2050 Plan Independent Expert Panel and sits on the Reef Restoration and Adaptation steering committee. 

Christian Roth

Dr Christian Roth has a PhD in soil physics from the University of Göttingen, Germany and more than 30 years of research experience in tropical land and water management. He joined CSIRO Land and Water as a Principal Scientist in 1996, leading the Tropical Land and Water Management Program as well as acting as Officer-in-Charge of CSIRO’s Davies Laboratory. During this time, he established and led major research projects studying the impact of land use on sediment and nutrient export to the Great Barrier Reef. Since 2016, Christian has been the coordinator for Great Barrier Reef-related research in CSIRO. He sits on both the Great Barrier Reef Foundation’s International Scientific Advisory Committee and the Reef Restoration and Adaptation Program steering committee. For more information:

Damien Burrows

Professsor Damien Burrows is Director of the Centre for Tropical Water and Aquatic Ecosystem Research (TropWATER) at James Cook University. He has 27 years’ research experience in the tropics, specialising in freshwater, estuarine and coastal aquatic ecosystems and catchment management. His focus is freshwater and estuarine ecosystems, particularly on applied aspects of their management under development pressures. This has involved extensive work with industry, community and government from grassroots to policy level. He has recently focused on developing the coastal ecosystems side of TropWATER, especially mangrove, seagrass and estuarine habitats. Damien also leads the National Environmental Science Programme’s Tropical Water Quality Hub focusing on improving catchment management, reef water quality, responses to coral bleaching and crown-of-thorns starfish control. He sits on the Reef Restoration and Adaptation Program steering committee. For further information:

David Wachenfeld

Dr David Wachenfeld is the Chief Scientist at the Great Barrier Marine Park Authority. Working at the authority since 1997, he has managed a diverse range of marine park management challenges, including: adapting marine park management to climate change, including improvements to resilience-based management; science and spatial analysis to support the development, implementation and monitoring of marine park zoning; state of the environment and outlook reporting; working with fishers and fisheries managers to improve sustainability of fishing activities; improving tactical responses to crown-of-thorns starfish outbreaks; developing reef restoration techniques; prioritising coastal ecosystems for protection and restoration and improving catchment management to reduce pollution. David has also worked in reef tourism and science. He sits on the Reef Restoration and Adaptation Program steering committee.

Mark Gibbs

Dr Mark Gibbs, Director, Knowledge to Innovation, Queensland University of Technology (QUT), is a coastal engineer and scientist who has worked on major coastal infrastructure projects as a researcher and consultant worldwide. Prior to joining QUT, Mark was Deputy Chief of CSIRO Division of Marine and Atmospheric Research, Deputy Director of the Collaboration for Australian Weather and Climate Research – a CSIRO/Bureau of Meteorology partnership, and a Technical Director at AECOM; the world’s largest infrastructure company. Mark has extensive experience in marine operations, infrastructure planning and delivery, impacts of coastal infrastructure, and research program management. He sits on the Reef Restoration and Adaptation Program Steering Committee member and is presently seconded to the project  management and planning team.


Nick Ashbolt

Professor Nicholas Ashbolt is Dean of the School Environment, Science and Engineering at Southern Cross University. He has more than 30 years’ experience in environmental microbiology, focusing on coastal pollution issues. His earlier wastewater research with the Australian sugar industry led to subsequent positions with ANSTO (Postdoc, acid mine drainage), Sydney Water Corp (Principal Microbiologist, impact of ocean outfall and riverine discharges) and the United States Environmental Protection Agency (Senior Research Microbiologist, urban water impacts) and establishment of national and international water quality targets through his pioneering quantitative microbial risk assessment research. Examples of his risk-based water quality targets are seen in guidelines for drinking and recreational waters (Health Canada, NHMRC, WHO, U.S. EPA), water reuse guidelines (Natural Resource Management Ministerial Council, WHO, Alberta Health) and ISO/ANSI water standards. His current novel research focuses on the fate and dispersion of enteric viruses and saprozoic pathogens in free-living amoebae in waters, and systems-based urban water approaches to aid in the remediation of coastal water systems.

Peter Mumby

Professor Peter Mumby began his career helping to design marine reserves in Belize and experienced first-hand the limited scientific basis for decision-making. He began a research pathway to provide science that can inform practical conservation and management action. His research combines field observations, experiments, remote sensing, and ecological modelling to answer questions about ecosystem resilience, impacts of climate change, marine reserve functioning and design, connectivity of ecosystems, coral reef fisheries, and marine spatial planning to capture ecosystem services. Peter collaborates extensively with other fields including economics, engineering, oceanography, and business. He gained a PhD at the University of Sheffield, followed by a NERC Post-doctoral fellowship at the University of Newcastle, a Royal Society fellowship at the University of Exeter, and moved to Brisbane to take up a prestigious ARC Laureate Fellowship in 2010. He is a professor at The University of Queensland and Chief Scientist of the Great Barrier Reef Foundation. Peter is a Pew Fellow in Marine Conservation and winner of the Rosenstiel Award for Contributions to Marine Biology, Marsh Award for Marine Conservation, and the inaugural ISRS Mid-Career Award for contributions to reef science. Peter sits on the Reef Restoration and Adaptation Program steering committee.  Learn more...

Theresa Fyffe

Theresa is Executive Director of Projects and Partnerships for the Great Barrier Reef Foundation, leading the foundation’s projects team, managing the development and implementation of the foundation's research portfolio and working closely with partners to ensure the Reef projects have real impact. Theresa holds a Masters in Science, and her expertise includes new business initiatives, corporate and investor relations, stakeholder engagement and complex program design and management. She has a background in managing complex interdisciplinary projects including a Bill & Melinda Gates Grand Challenges in Global Health project, and a successful $110M Cooperative Research Centre bid. Theresa is a member of the Partnership Management Committee for the $443.3 million Reef Trust Partnership with the Australian Government, and she sits on the Reef Restoration and Adaptation Program steering committee.