Independent Chair

Headshots11Dr Ian Poiner BSc Hons, PhD, FTSE, HonDSc

Dr Ian Poiner’s scientific expertise is research into tropical marine systems, especially understanding how they are influenced by human activities. Of particular interest are the development of indicators of ocean health and their use in ocean observing networks, and the application of marine science to support policy, management and the sustainable development of marine industries. Ian has significant experience in the strategic development and planning of science, both as a practising scientist and at the organisational level. This is reflected in his successful leadership of the Australian Institute of Marine Science (2004-11), one of the world’s leading tropical marine science institutions, and leadership of national and international research programmes to support the sustainable use, conservation and management of marine ecosystems. Ian is currently chair of the Gladstone Healthy Harbour Partnership Independent Science Panel, the Marine National Facility Steering Committee, the Integrated Marine Observing System Advisory Board and the University of Western Australia Oceans Institute advisory board. Until 2012, Ian was the Chair of the International Scientific Steering Committee of the Census of Marine Life. The Census was a 10-year US$650 million international effort undertaken to assess the diversity, distribution and abundance of marine life—a task never before attempted on this scale completed in 2012 and awarded the International Cosmos Prize in 2011.


Executive Director and Company Secretary

Headshots1Sheriden Morris – Managing Director, Reef and Rainforest Research Centre Ltd

Sheriden Morris has had a strong connection to and focus on northern Australia her entire life: from growing up in Batchelor in the Northern Territory, through her studies in tropical agronomy, and her professional career working with sugar, banana, aquaculture and tourism industries and agencies such as CSIRO and GBRMPA. For the past ten years she has been the Managing Director of the Cairns-based non-profit Reef and Rainforest Research Centre (RRRC). She has always strongly believed in intelligent, sustainable development for northern Australia using the region’s tropical expertise – the knowledge of living, building and working most effectively in the tropics.

Under her leadership, RRRC has successfully attracted more than $200 million in grants and investment to support research and development projects in northern Australia. This includes the Australian Government’s Marine and Tropical Sciences Research Facility, the Tropical Ecosystems Hub of the National Environmental Research Program, the Tropical Water Quality Hub of the National Environmental Science Programme and the Crown of Thorns Starfish Targeted Control Program.

Sheriden is deputy Chair of Citizens of the Great Barrier Reef and has served on numerous government advisory committees for land and water management, including Queensland and Commonwealth committees for agriculture, coastal development, wetlands and indigenous opportunity. An extensive contributor to land and sea management policy, she has also spearheaded the development and implementation of an innovative aid development program on Australia’s northern borderlands with Papua New Guinea.

She lives on the family farm at Babinda, just south of Cairns.


Non-Executive Directors

HeadshotsDirectors2Dr Andrew John Ash

Dr Andrew Ash is a senior research leader in CSIRO and was from 2007 until April 2013 the Director of the CSIRO Climate Adaptation National Research Flagship. In this role he was responsible for setting the Flagship’s research directions and leading research partnerships with government, industries and communities. Dr Ash has a keen interest in better integrating our understanding of climate science with decision-making and developing ways to mainstream climate adaptation into policy and industry. Throughout his career, a feature of Dr Ash’s research has been a systems approach that strives to examine both biophysical and management aspects of environmental sustainability.

Andrew is a Director of Greening Australia (Qld) and Green Cross Australia, a member of the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority’s Ecosystem Reef Advisory Committee, a member of the Independent Science Panel for Reef Plan, and a member of the Independent Expert Group supporting the Commonwealth Government in the development of its Climate Adaptation Outlook.


HeadshotsDirectors4Mr Russell John Beer

Russell Beer is a partner at MacDonnells Law. Over the last 20 years Russell’s main area of practice has involved giving advice to local governments, statutory bodies and government owned corporations on regulatory and commercial matters and strategic input into major infrastructure and other projects. Russell also acts as Corporate Solicitor for a range of significant North Queensland associations and institutions.

Russell’s legal work for various councils has covered a wide area of law and he has been involved in many significant and large projects within North Queensland. One example of this was when Russell acted for a number of North Queensland local authorities on the privatisation of waste collection services and in relation to the Far North Queensland Regional Waste Project, where he actually chaired the tender panel for those Councils and negotiated the final contract with the developer.

In addition to his legal commitments, Russell has dedicated much of his time to community and voluntary work in the Cairns region including several boards and committees, including over six years as Chairman of Advance Cairns, President of AFL Cairns, Chair of the Finance Committee for the Roman Catholic Diocese of Cairns, Cairns Chapter of the Property Council of Australia, Cairns Division of the AICD, Board Member of the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority and Member of the Marine and Tropical Science Research Facility Ministerial Advisory Council.

Russell is also a Senior Counsellor for the Queensland Law Society and in that role he helps practitioners from other firms on a pro bono basis with problems they encounter in their professional work and lives. He also sits on a James Cook University (JCU) Committee which is reviewing the Bachelor of Laws degree awarded by JCU from its Cairns and Townsville campuses.

In 2010 Russell was awarded the Queensland Law Society’s ‘Significant Achievement By A Legal Practitioner Award’ for his services to the profession and the community.

In 2012 Russell was very proud to be named as Cairns Regional Council’s Citizen of the Year.


HeadshotsDirectors5Mr John Sutherland Gunn

John Gunn is the Chief Executive Officer of AIMS. John has significant experience in leading development of strategy, scientific research and capability, and stakeholder engagement across a research portfolio encompassing marine ecology, fisheries, coastal systems, physical and chemical oceanography, atmospheric chemistry and climate science. John joined AIMS from the position of Chief Scientist of the Australian Antarctic Program, where he played a key role in developing the new Australian Antarctic Science Strategy Plan: 2011 – 2021. Prior to this, John was Deputy Chief of CSIRO’s Marine and Atmospheric Research Division, the culmination of 29 year career with the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation.

John has held a number of important advisory and policy development roles through his membership of the Scientific Steering Committee for the Global Ocean Observing System, the Australian Academy of Science National Committee for Antarctic Research, the Antarctic Climate and Ecosystems Co‐Operative Research Centre Board, the Oceans Policy Science Advisory Group (OPSAG), the Commonwealth Government’s High Level Coordination Group on Climate Change Science, and Australia’s Integrated Marine Observing System Board.

Alongside his executive experience, John has an extensive academic record. Having graduated from James Cook University, Townsville in 1978 with a first class honours in marine biology, John has authored over 150 peer-review publications, book chapters, papers to international commissions and technical reports, and has presented at more than 100 conferences and symposia, in many instances as the keynote speaker. He has an international reputation in the fields of pelagic fish ecology and in the development of marine biological observing technology and systems.

Having worked within and led a number of world-leading, multidisciplinary teams and programs, John is a passionate advocate for science, and in particular marine science, and its role in securing a prosperous and sustainable future for Australia. While addressing the needs and demands of a broad user community, he is determined to maintain and further enhance the scientific excellence for which AIMS has gained an enviable international reputation.


HeadshotsDirectors8Professor Marcus Lane

Professor Marcus Lane is Dean of the College of Marine and Environmental Sciences at James Cook University.

Professor Lane has research experience in diverse aspects of environmental policy and management. His particular research foci are: Indigenous environmental management, agri-environmental management, and the social and economic impacts of major resource developments such as mining, forestry and tourism. Forest management and, in particular, the contested transition of forests to conservation tenures, is a particular specialisation. Professor Lane has published widely across these fields, including 60 peer-reviewed journal articles, 20 book chapters and a number of books and monographs. He has been commissioned widely by State and Federal governments as well as non-government organisations. He has been an Expert Panel member on Regional Forest Agreements in three States, a member of the Scientific Advisory Committee for the Wet Tropics Management Authority, a member of the National Committee for Geography (Australian Academy of Science) and contributed to numerous environmental impact assessments in Australia and the USA. He has won awards for his research in environmental impact assessment and has been recognised as one of the most cited scholars of planning by the (American) Association of Collegiate Schools of Planning. His current work is concerned with social and economic transition in rural landscapes.

Prior to joining James Cook University, Professor Lane was Dean (Academic) of Arts, Education and Law at Griffith University. In this role he had responsibility for academic staff and programs, Internationalisation and marketing. In 2007, Professor Lane was recruited by CSIRO to establish and lead the Social and Economic Sciences Research Program. In five years, this Program grew to 150 scientists located across Australia and deploying to a diverse range of research agendas, including: biosecurity, land and water management, international development, and agriculture.


HeadshotsDirectors6Mr Stanley Tibau Lui

Stan Lui is a Torres Strait Islander from Erub (Darnley Island) which is located in the top eastern Torres Strait. Stan is a graduate of James Cook University with a Bachelor of Science double majoring in Marine Biology and Aquaculture. He has worked with both State and Commonwealth Agencies in Fisheries Management and Aquaculture Development. Stan is a Board Member of the Reef and Rainforest Research Centre, a member of the Fisheries Research and Development Corporations Indigenous Reference Group, and is a Managing Director of a commercial fishing company holding licences in the Spanish mackerel, coral trout and tropical rock lobster fishery.


HeadshotsDirectors7Mr Colin George McKenzie

Col Mckenzie has been a member of the marine tourism industry for 32 years.  He has owned his own scuba diving business, a dive instructor certification agency, started successful businesses in Thailand, Indonesia, Malaysia and the Philippines, and now owns a marine tourism consulting company that has multiple contracts within the industry.

A strong believer in the marine tourism industry, Col has been active in the two main industry associations for many years.  Col is and has been the Executive Director of the Association of Marine Park Tourism Operators (AMPTO) for more than 9 years and represents the marine tourism industry on 38 different boards, forums or committees.  He previously was the President of Dive QLD for 3 years and their Treasurer for 4.
Still an active scuba diver, Col has dived many of the world’s top dive spots including the Red Sea, SE Asia, Micronesia, New Zealand, South Pacific Islands and our own magnificent Great Barrier Reef.