Dr Tayanah O’Donnell
Future Earth Australia, Australian Academy of Science
Dr Tayanah O’Donnell is a lawyer and geographer and current Director of Future Earth Australia based at the Australian Academy of Science. Tayanah has a strong interdisciplinary track record, utilising her legal and social research expertise to lead and contribute to research teams that deliver cross and trans-disciplinary outcomes in areas such as coastal governance, climate change adaptation, climate change litigation, sustainable cities, and land use planning. She is the author of several journal papers, and her book, Legal Geography: Perspectives and Methods, was recently published by Routledge.
Professor Andrew D Short
Honorary Professor, School of Geosciences
University of Sydney
Andy Short is a coastal geomorphologist specializing in coastal processes, morphology and evolution. He has degrees from the University of Sydney, University of Hawaii and Louisiana State University and has worked on the coasts of North and South America, including north Alaska and Hawaii, Europe, New Zealand, Korea and the entire Australian coast. He is presently Honorary Professor in the School of Geosciences at the University of Sydney; Honorary Professorial Fellow in the School of Earth and Environmental Sciences at the University of Wollongong; Senior Coastal Scientist (part-time) with CoastalCOMS.com; and board member of National Surfing Reserves (Australia). He also runs his own consultancy called Coastal Studies and served on the NSW Coastal Panel (2011-2019). He has written 11 books, edited 5 and published over 200 scientific publications and reports. His contribution to both coastal science and beach safety was recognized on Australia Day 2010 with an Order of Australia Medal. His latest book (2019) covers the entire Australian coast and it’s 354 sediment compartments and is titled “Australian Coastal Systems: beaches, barriers and sediment compartments”.
College of Science and Engineering
James Cook University
Scott Smithers is a coastal geomorphologist with a strong focus on tropical systems based in the College of Science and Engineering at James Cook University. Scott completed his BEnvSci (Hons) and PhD at the University of Wollongong where he was first exposed to coral reef geomorphology through his Honours and PhD supervisor, Colin Woodroffe. Whilst at the University of Wollongong Scott was privileged to undertake research on lagoonal sedimentation and coral records of sea-level change at the Cocos Keeling Islands. Since locating to Townsville Scott has continued his research into the Holocene development of coral reefs, including investigations of the impacts of environmental change on modern coral reef systems, and the recovery and interpretation of records of environmental change preserved within coral skeletons and reef deposits.
Key areas of research include:
1) understanding spatial and temporal patterns and controls of reef growth and carbonate production;
2) the reconstruction of records of environmental change from coral skeletons, reef framework and sedimentary deposits as a context for understanding contemporary changes;
3) the distribution, growth and importance of turbid zone reefs; and
4) understanding the geomorphological development and morphodynamics of coral reef islands.
Unsurprisingly, Scott’s research is largely focused on the Great Barrier Reef, but he worked on reefs from elsewhere in the Pacific (e.g. Torres Strait, Kiribati, PNG) and Indian Oceans (Maldives), as well as in the Caribbean Sea (Bahamas, Bonaire, Belize). Scott finds working with communities to better understand coastal problems particularly rewarding; a key personal goal is to undertake research that can be applied to support environmental management in both developed and developing nations. Recent work in this domain includes research focused on understanding coastal erosion and its impacts on livelihoods in Torres Strait, and understanding geomorphological processes as the basis for adaptive management at Raine Island, the world’s largest green turtle rookery. Working with the Traditional Owners and the Queensland Department of Environment and Heritage this research has underpinned recent work to reshape the Raine Island to successfully improve turtle nesting and hatchling outcomes.
John (Charlie) Veron
Has three higher degrees in different fields of science: reptilian physiology, insect neurobiology and coral taxonomy.
Was the first full-time researcher on the Great Barrier Reef and the first scientist employed by the Australian Institute of Marine Science. He became Chief Scientist of that organisation in 1997, a position he held for 7 years.
Has 100 publications on almost anything to do with corals from palaeontology, taxonomy and biogeography to physiology and molecular science. He has also published widely on other subjects notably evolution, mass extinctions, more recently, a major website. His best-known publications are:
- The five volume monograph Scleractinia of Eastern Australia which created the basis of a new, now universally used, coral taxonomy.
- Corals in Space and Time (Cornell, 1995)
- The three volume Corals of the World (2000).
- Coral ID, CD-ROM (2002).
- A Reef in Time: The Great Barrier Reef from Beginning to End (Harvard, 2008).
- coralsoftheworld.org (2016) a compilation of all taxonomic and biogeographic information about corals.
- Autobiography A Life Underwater (Penguin Random House, 2017)
Veron was awarded the Darwin Medal for his work on evolution, the AMSA Jubilee Pin for his coral taxonomy, the Australasian Science Prize and other wards for various publications. His last award was for Lifetime Achievement from the American Academy of Underwater Science.
Veron has named about ¼ of the world’s coral species, and mapped and re-described them all. This work has underpinned most major reef conservation initiatives over the past two decades including the ‘Coral Triangle’ which he discovered.
He has been diving continually since he was 18, logging 6000 hours underwater. He has participated in 67 expeditions to most major reef regions of the world.