I Congress of the association of Spanish Researchers in Australia-Pacific

Sydney, 29-31 October 2015

SIMS (Sydney Institute of Marine Science), Chowder Bay




Josefina MAESTU

Coordinator, UN-Water Decade Programme on Advocacy and Communication (UNW-DPAC), Director, United Nations Office to Support the International Decade for Action ‘Water for Life’ 2005-2015.

Josefina Maestu was appointed as Director of the programme in September 2009. Prior to her appointment, Ms. Maestu served as senior advisor to the Minister of Environment of Spain and she represented Spain in the Environmental Committee of the UN Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE), the Mediterranean Commission on Sustainable Development, and backstopped the Spanish EU Presidency. For 5 years she was a Director of a UK based economics and environment research consultancy. With an academic background in economics and planning, she has an extended professional career in the field of water whiles working in international relations, national civil servant positions and international advisor consultancies. She has coordinated the preparation of the economic analysis of River Basin Management Plans for implementation of the Water Framework Directive in Spain and has formed part of the EU coordination groups on water economics. Prior to this, she was Secretary-General of the Mediterranean Water Network for several years, and has been technical adviser to the European Commission and UN system organizations, including the World Bank.



Professor Sakkie Pretorius is Deputy Vice Chancellor: Research at Macquarie University in Sydney. He is internationally recognised as a pioneer in molecular microbiology and biotechnology, and the translation of research outcomes to industry. Sakkie began his career in South Africa. At Stellenbosch University, he established a reputation for innovation and was appointed Professor of Microbiology in 1993. In the US and Europe, Sakkie also established a reputation for excellence: he conducted research into molecular yeast genetics at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine in New York and at the Max Planck Institute for Biophysical Chemistry in Göttingen, Germany, and became a part-time professor at the Katholieke Universiteit Leuven in Belgium. In 2003, Sakkie relocated to Adelaide with his family to become Director of Research at the Australian Wine Research Institute (AWRI). He was also appointed Affiliate Professor in the School of Agriculture, Food and Wine at the University of Adelaide. In 2004, he became Managing Director of the AWRI. In 2011, he was appointed Deputy Vic-Chancellor and Vice-President : Research and Innovation at the University of South Australia - a position which he held until the middle of 2013 before he took up his current role as Deputy Vice Chancellor: Research at Macquarie University in Sydney. Professor Pretorius has published more than 200 peer-reviewed research papers and book chapters (current Scopus H-index of 42) and presented at 550 conferences (many as an invited keynote speaker) and research seminars.


Emeritus Prof Bruce THOM

Vice-Chancellor University of New England, Professor Bruce Thom has held positions including Foundation Professor of Geography, Royal Military College, Duntroon, Professor of Geography University of Sydney and Pro-Vice-Chancellor Research, University of Sydney. He currently holds the title of Emeritus Professor from the University of Sydney. Bruce served as Chair of the Australian State of Environment Committee 1998-2002, and as Chair of the Coastal Council of New South Wales (1999-2004). He served as the Visiting Professor for Coastal Management and Planning at the Department of Infrastructure, Planning and Natural Resources in Sydney. He also formerly held the position of Visiting Professor in the NSW Department of Planning. Bruce is a member of the Wentworth Group of Concerned Scientists, Deputy Chair of the Australian Coastal Society and Chair of the Federal Government’s Coasts and Climate Change Council (2011). In 2010 he was awarded a member of the Order of Australia for his contribution to the ecological management of the coastal zone and as a contributor to public debate on natural resource policy. Bruce is an honorary life member of Surfrider Foundation Australia, and most importantly an honorary member of the Sydney Coastal Councils Group. Bruce provided a history of the geomorphology of Sydney’s coastline. Sydney has inherited a coast from the time the Tasman Sea opened 60-80 million years ago. This geologic inheritance is critical in understanding its present biophysical character and how it offers an array of natural assets that help drive the lifestyles and livelihoods of the city.



In 2009 Professor Peter Steinberg was appointed the inaugural Director and CEO of SIMS. He is concurrently Professor in the School of Biological Earth and Environmental Sciences and Director of the Centre for Marine Bio-Innovation at UNSW Australia, and Co-Director for the Advanced Environmental Biotechnology Centre, Nanyang Technological University, Singapore.

Professor Steinberg has brought to SIMS his extensive research and academic experience together with commercial knowledge. He has been a Fulbright Scholar, a Queen Elizabeth II Fellow and CEO of an ASX listed biotechnology company focusing on the development of novel antibacterials from marine organisms.

Professor Steinberg is a distinguished researcher who has more than 130 international publications. His research interests include seaweed ecology, diseases of marine organisms, biofouling and antifouling, bacterial biofilm biology, marine chemical ecology and marine biotechnology.


Dr Ren YI

Ren Yi is an experienced research manager and researcher with a keen interest in the effective management of higher degree research processes. He has been working in higher education for more than 10 years, including positions at the University of Melbourne, The University of Queensland, Victoria University and the University of Southern Queensland.

Ren is actively involved with the research management profession. He is one of Past Presidents of the Australasian Research Management Society and is an active member of the International Network of Research Management Societies. He has also been appointed to different research management committees by the Australia Research Council and by Universities Australia. In 2009, Ren was awarded an Australian Endeavour Executive Award by Deputy Prime Minister Hon Julia Gillard. In the same year he also won an Award for Excellence 2009 from the Australasian Research Management Society for embedding research administration in a regional university.

He has extensive experience as a researcher. He completed his Ph.D. at the University of Melbourne in economic geography and international business. He currently holds an Australia Research Council grant. Dr. Yi is currently a reviewer for the Academy of International Business and the Australian Research Council.

Prof Jennifer McKAY

Professor McKay has researched, taught, consulted on water resource management and law issues throughout Australia and in India and the USA and is a part time Commissioner of the SA Environment, Resources and Development Court. In 2008, she worked on the United Nations Expo in Zaragoza 2008, and held a senior Fulbright at Berkeley.

She has 160 publications looking at laws and the implementation of ESD in water management, mining and other Natural resources issues. She has a BA Hons (Melbourne), LLB Adelaide, PhD (Melbourne) and Diploma in Human Rights Law from a American University in Washington DC 2009



Luis Salvador-Carulla is professor of Disability and Mental Health at the Faculty of Health Sciences (University of Sydney). His field of interest is support decision systems and policy in long-term care, disability and mental health, and Intellectual Developmental Disorders. He is honour member of the World Psychiatry Association and Secretary of the WPA section “Classification, Diagnostic assessment and Nomenclature”. Dr Salvador-Carulla has intensively participated in the development of international networks in the fields mentioned above, person centred medicine, healthy ageing, and bridging and knowledge transfer between disability and ageing. He has been advisor to the Government of Catalonia (Spain), the Spanish Ministry of Health, the European Commission (EC) and the World Health Organisation (WHO). He coordinated the European Commission project eDESDE-LTC for the development of a European coding system for long term care, and he participates in the ‘REFINEMENT’ project aimed at analysing financing, quality and effectiveness of mental health systems in Europe. He has successfully secured competitive grants over the last years. He chaired the WHO working group on the classification of intellectual disabilities at chapter V of the International Classification of Diseases (ICD-11). He received the Leon Eisenberg Award of the Harvard Medical School in 2012. He is the secretary general of the Instituto Cervantes Academic Forum (Cátedra Instituto Cervantes).


Ian is Associate Professor in Climate and Coastal Risk and leads the Marine Climate Risk Group at Climate Futures Research Centre at Macquarie University, and is a researcher at the Sydney Institute of Marine Science (SIMS) in the SIMS/NSW OEH Coastal Processes Research Node. Ian has 30 years research experience in the fields of climatology, paleoclimatology and climate change science, coastal and marine geoscience, coastal oceanography, polar glaciology, environmental hazard definition and impact management throughout Eastern Australia and the South-West Pacific. His papers have documented decadal climate variability, mechanisms for sea-level change, wave climate change, regional coastal evolution, coral reef evolution, extratropical storm climatology, reanalysis and reconstructions of Southern Hemisphere climate, Antarctic ice sheet dynamics. Ian is a foundation member of the scientific advisory committees for the Eastern Seaboard Climate Change Initiative (ESCCI), serves on the Scientific Advisory Panel for NSW-IMOS (Integrated Marine Observing System) and is researching coastal processes and climate change at numerous sites in NSW, SE Queensland, and the South-west Pacific.


Ana’s research revolves around marine ecology and aquaculture, in particular oyster farming (edible and pearl oysters). Her work combines environment, disease, health of catchments – waterways and aquaculture industry practices. Ana has a long history of working with the Australian oyster industry, assisting them with the identification of catchment risks and improvement of their husbandry practices as part of the implementation of estuary-wide Environmental Management Studies. Ana has set up oyster monitoring programs, as well as developing catchment-wide data portals for better management of oyster areas and undertaken research on environmental controls of oyster farms and new technology to improve industry sustainability.

Dr Adriana VERGÉS

Adriana's research focuses on the way species interact in the marine environment, and how these relationships can shape entire ecological communities. She mostly works in marine communities such as seagrass meadows, algal forests and coral reefs in both tropical and temperate systems from around the world (Mediterranean Sea, Indian and Pacific oceans). A lot of her work is centred on the interactions between marine plants and herbivores, as these are particularly intense in the sea and of great importance in modulating the health of entire marine ecosystems.


Senior Lecturer and ARC Future Fellow at the School of Geosciences, University of Sydney. Director One Tree Island research station. Her research focuses on how water moves sand on beaches, tidal inlets, estuaries and coral reefs. She studies coastal processes and environments (morphodynamics) in Spain, Portugal, Brazil and Australia. She is the chair of the upcoming International Coastal Symposium which will be held in Sydney in March 2016. She is in the board of the society of Spanish Researchers in Australia-Pacific (SRAP).

Dr Melanie BISHOP

Dr Bishop has made outstanding contributions to our understanding of how the marine environment is increasingly threatened by human development. Her work has made important contributions to areas including how population growth introduces pollutants into waterways, causing major changes to the environment. Presently she is researching how the combination of warmer temperatures and fertilizer run-off from the land into estuaries leads to changes in aquatic vegetation. She is also investigating whether sea walls might prevent the seagrasses and mangroves that underpin fisheries productivity from migrating landward as sea levels rise. Coastal biodiversity is a valuable resource which globally is valued at US$10 trillion per annum. Not only does its deterioration have significant consequences for marine life, but also our own. As the current president of the NSW Branch of the Australian Marine Sciences Association, Melanie has had a strong presence in the community and contributes to public debates on Marine Parks and Recreational Fishing. She has been part of the Ultimo Science Festival, Siemens Science School and was one of 12 scientists interviewed for the Department of Education’s 2007 Science Talk Website. Melanie has also regularly given careers talks to high school and university students and hosted work experience placements.


Dr James Hazelton joined Macquarie University in 2001. Prior to his academic career, James was with PricewaterhouseCoopers, where he worked in audit and risk management consulting in Sydney, London and New York. James specialises in business ethics and sustainability and has consulted, researched and taught extensively in these areas. He recently led a team engaged by the Australian Bureau of Meteorology to analyse the benefits of adopting national water accounting standards and was part of a team engaged by the NSW Office of Environment and Heritage to develop energy efficiency training for the accounting profession. Other research interests include the ethics of corporate political donations and incorporating contemporary ethical models into the accounting curriculum.


Australian Association for Maritime History, Maritime History, Department Member. Expert on the early colonial maritime history of Australia and the Pacific Ocean region, from the planning of European settlement at ‘Botany Bay’, the Nootka Sound confrontation and the consequent Anglo-Spanish convention, Napoleonic War, and Latin American independence.


Spanish film director. She is one of the most prolific film directors of contemporary Spain, having directed seven feature-length films since the beginning of her film career in 1988, in addition to documentary films, shorts and commercials. Her films follow a departure from traditional national cinema of Spain, and help to “untangle films from their national context, clearing the path for thinking about national film from different perspectives.” The recurring themes of “emotions, feelings and existential conflict” coupled with her distinct visual style secure the “multifaceted (she directs, writes, produces and acts)” filmmaker's status as a “catalan auteur”.

Jennifer TURPIN

Jennifer Turpin is a public artist with 25 years experience creating kinetic installations engaging water, wind and light as sculptural media at the interface of art, science, nature and the built environment. Many of the artworks, created with colleague Michaelie Crawford, are integrated into environmental restoration projects. Activated by nature’s elemental energies, the artworks are rhythmic, responsive and transformative ‘performances’ in the everyday life of the city. Puzzling, playful, mesmerising or contemplative, they make visible the invisible and highlight the elemental energies of nature so often taken for granted.

Jennifer is a recipient of a Churchill Travelling Fellowship. For this she will research ancient and contemporary cultures that have developed a ‘culture of care’ in relation to water. She will explore how some societies deliver(ed) environmentally sustainable outcomes through attitudes to conserving, protecting, revering and reusing water. She hopes to discover how art and design today can best bring the poetics and beauty of such water initiatives to people’s attention.


Prof Mary O’KANE

Professor Mary O'Kane was appointed NSW Chief Scientist & Engineer on 23 October 2008. She is also a company director and Executive Chairman of Mary O'Kane & Associates Pty Ltd, a Sydney-based consulting practice specialising in innovation and major reviews, and a company director.

Born in central Queensland, Professor O'Kane is an expert in automatic speech recognition. She has been a member of a number of high-level committees, including the Australian Research Council and the panel for the Federal Government's Review of the National Innovation System. She has chaired major reviews of the Australian Bureau of Meteorology and the Co-operative Research Centres Program.

Professor O'Kane was Vice-Chancellor and President of the University of Adelaide from 1996 to 2001. She was Chair of the Australian Centre for Renewable Energy from 2010 to 2012. She is a former member of the Australian Research Council, the Co-operative Research Centres Committee, the board of FH Faulding & Co Ltd and the board of the CSIRO. She is a Fellow of the Academy of Technological Sciences and Engineering and an Honorary Fellow of Engineers, Australia.



Brad is employed by NSW Office of Water as the Program Manager Aboriginal Water Initiative which is the only dedicated Aboriginal water unit in Australia. Previously was with CSIRO Land and Water as the only Indigenous Water Research Specialist. Brad is a member of Department of the Environments - Indigenous Water Advisory Committee and former member of the NWC's - First Peoples’ Water Engagement Council, a Member of AIATSIS and also the JSC for the review of the National Water Quality Management Strategy (NWQMS). He is also a judge for the Australian RiverPrize and the River Management Young Achievers Award. He has significant networks in the water and environmental area, Government and ongoing relationships with the broader Aboriginal community.


Simon Leiva is the Cooks River Alliance (CRA) Environmental Engineer. He specialises in  Water and Wastewater Industry, with a keen interest in water sensitive urban design (WSUD), having worked on a wide range of projects both in Chile and Australia.

Simon has worked for small and large enterprises, in the private and public sector. In these companies he has undertaken both management as well as technical roles with multidisciplinary teams. Before starting work with the CRA, Simon worked as the Technical Department Manager of Atlantis Corporation Pty Ltd. The types of projects that he has been a part of include: water efficiency; WSUD; and on-site supervision during construction and operation of novel stormwater treatment systems to improve water quality outcomes.

Peter BREW

Peter is a technology strategist and businessman and is currently consulting to the Australian office of Adasa Sistemas, a Spanish water and environmental engineering company. Prior to this he was General Manager for Europe for Australian water technology company Rubicon Water. Peter has travelled widely inspecting and advising on irrigation modernisation in Australia, Spain, Morocco, Egypt, India, China, USA, France, Italy, Chile and Mexico. In 2013 he presented at the XVII National Congress of Irrigation in Mexico.

Peter holds an honours degree in Computer Science from the University of Sydney and has held a number of senior executive positions with global technology companies, including Associate Vice President at US stock market NASDAQ, Stockholm based OMX group of stock markets, Computershare, GEC Marconi and Alcatel.



Stephen is the Cooks River Alliance (CRA) Project Manager.

He is a solicitor of 20 years’ standing, admitted to practise in both England and Australia. In 2003 he established his own legal firm to support undergraduate studies in Environmental Science and International studies and, thereafter, a postgraduate Master of Environmental Science by research. Before starting work with the CRA he worked as the Manager of Projects and Programs at the Sydney Coastal Councils Group. Before that, he spent two years in Latin America studying and working for community organisations in Ecuador and Guatemala. To enhance his service delivery he has undertaken a Diploma of Project Management, Advanced Diploma of Management and a Cert IV in Training and Assessment. He tutors adult literacy and numeracy and teaches philosophical ethics to primary school children.



Álvaro is a marine ecologist working with zooplankton trophic links, biological oceanography, biodiversity and parasite-host relationships. He did his PhD in the Instituto de Investigaciones Marinas de Vigo (IIM-CSIC) in 2013, about the ecology of planktonic stages of cephalopods in coastal upwelling ecosystems. He is currently doing a two-year postdoc at La Trobe University, with a "Barrié de la Maza" Postdoctoral Fellowship and RFA funds from La Trobe. His research is centred in the diet and microbiome of Octopus vulgaris larvae during their planktonic stage in order to apply this knowledge to captive studies.



Dr Elmahdi has more than 20 years' experience in hydrology and water management, including a decade working internationally (Egypt, Italy, Netherlands and Greece) on water resources assessment and management projects. Amgad has also been a CSIRO research scientist, working on groundwater and integrated water resources management and has authored and co-authored over 90 scientific publications. Amgad currently manages the Bureau's Water Resources Assessment Section, which delivers products across surface water, groundwater, urban and irrigation system, design rainfalls and the Australian Water Resources Assessment and continental hydrological modelling system.



Thomas graduated with a Masters Degree in General Engineering from Ecole Centrale Marseille in 2009, with a specialization in Organic Chemistry / Biochemistry. He then joined the Office for Science and Technology of the Embassy of France in the USA as Deputy Attaché for Science and Technology. Based in Los Angeles, California, he monitored US research output and policy, and participated in the creation and strengthening of bilateral higher education and research partnerships between American and French universities and research institutions.

Following a period of travelling, he has joined the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs again in April 2015, as Deputy Scientific Attaché at the Embassy of France in Australia. In this role, he participates in the strengthening of bilateral links in Research and Innovation by animating initiatives such as the French Researchers in Australia Network (FRAN).

Dr Dimitri PERRIN

Dimitri Perrin is a Lecturer in the Electrical Engineering and Computer Science School at Queensland University of Technology. Prior to joining QUT, he worked as a FPR Fellow in the Laboratory for Systems Biology (RIKEN, Japan) and as an IRCSET Marie-Curie Research Fellow with the Centre for Scientific Computing & Complex Systems Modelling (Dublin City University, Ireland) and the Department of Information Networking (Osaka University, Japan). His research interests are in the field of Complex Systems, in developing new approaches to facilitate the analysis, modelling and optimisation of biomedical and social systems. Dimitri Perrin holds a Master’s Degree (Diplôme d’Ingénieur) in Computer Engineering from ISIMA (Aubière, France), a M.Sc. in Computer Science from Université Blaise Pascal (Clermont-Ferrand, France), and received his Ph.D. in Computing from Dublin City University (Dublin, Ireland).

Helen O'NEIL

Helen O'Neil is Director of the British Council Australia, the United Kingdom’s international organisation for cultural relations and educational opportunities, and is a board member of Craft ACT.

She has worked as an arts manager and director across the creative sector, with a strong focus on building relationships and networks. She was Senior Adviser to the Australian Minister for the Arts, working on the national Creative Australia policy, and taught at the Australian Film Television and Radio School. She has been Executive Director of the Australian Major Performing Arts Group and the Council for the Humanities, Arts and Social Sciences; Chair of the Confederation of Australian International Arts Festivals; and a Director of the Film Finance Corporation. She originally trained as a journalist, working for the ABC, and later worked on digital and broadband TV, including the Foxtel start-up. She is also on the board of Currency House Inc.

Dr Sergio Leon-Saval

Sergio G. Leon-Saval was awarded his PhD by the University of Bath, UK, in 2006. In October 2007 he joined the Optical Fibre Technology Centre (OFTC) in Sydney, Australia. In 2009, he moved to the University of Sydney, Australia where he is currently part of the Institute of Photonics and Optical Science (IPOS) Executive Committee; Senior Member of the Sydney Institute for Astronomy (SIfA); a Faculty Member of the School of Physics; and Director of the Sydney Astrophotonics Instrumentation Laboratory (SAIL). Dr Leon-Saval has more than 12 years of experience in the research area of photonics, optical devices and astrophotonics. He is a reviewer and editor for several international technical programme committees (TPC); and a member of international organisations such a the Optical American Society, IEEE, and the Optical Australian Society.


Ms Marian Schoen was appointed as Executive Director of the University of Melbourne European Union Centre on Shared Complex Challenges in August 2014. She brings to the role high level executive management and stakeholder relations experience in the higher education sector having held positions as Deputy Director of the LH Martin Institute for Tertiary Education Leadership and Management, General Manager of the Melbourne School of Engineering, Executive Director of the Melbourne Law School, and as a member of Council of the University of Melbourne.

As Director of the Australia Centre Europe established by the Australian Group of Eight Universities in Berlin to foster collaboration with European universities, research organizations and networks, she represented Go8 institutions and established relationships with Australian, European government and European agencies and diplomatic representatives for trade, higher education and science.

Her extensive career in constitutional review and public administration has included a wide variety of roles and she is admitted as a barrister and solicitor of the High Court of Australia, and the Supreme Courts of Tasmania, New South Wales and Papua New Guinea.

© SRAP-IEAP 2015