Chair & Directors

Independent Chair

Dr Andrew John Ash

Andrew Ash holds a Bachelor of Agricultural Science and a PhD from the University of Queensland and is a Graduate of the Australian Institute of Company Directors. He was awarded a Churchill Fellowship in 1995.

Andrew has 35 years research experience in climatically variable tropical rangelands and agricultural systems in northern Australia and south-east Asia with a particular emphasis on developing management systems to improve profitability and environmental outcomes for rural communities. He has published over 200 scientific papers, book chapters, conference papers and technical reports.

Andrew retired from CSIRO after 30 years, with the last 15 years in various research management roles. He was CSIRO’s Rangelands and Savannas Program Leader from 2000-2006, Deputy Chief of CSIRO Sustainable Ecosystems Division from 2006-2007 and then inaugural Director of the Climate Adaptation Flagship from 2007-2013. The Climate Adaptation Flagship had an annual budget of around $45M, with over 200 staff contributing to its science. The Flagship provided much of the early thinking and science underpinning behind climate adaptation in Australia, with significant international reach and influence.

Andrew is a member of the Commonwealth Government’s Independent Expert Panel for the Reef 2050 Plan and a member of the Independent Science Panel for the Qld Government’s ReefPlan initiative. He is also a member of the Independent Science for Development Council of the CGIAR, a global partnership that unites international organizations engaged in research for a food-secured future. He is a Council member of the Australian Rangeland Society and a member of the Society’s Publications Committee.

Executive Director & Company Secretary

Sheriden MorrisManaging 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 Director

Russell John Beer

Russell Beer is a partner at MacDonnells Law. Over the last 25 years Russell’s main areas of practice have involved giving advice to local corporates and other businesses, governments, statutory bodies and government owned corporations on business, regulatory and commercial matters and providing 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 levels of government and government owned corporations has covered wide areas of law, and he has been involved for one North Queensland Council or another in many large projects. One example of this was when Russell acted for a number North Queensland local authorities on the privatisation of their waste collection services, and thereafter in relation to the Far North Queensland Regional Waste Project, where he actually chaired the tender panel for those Councils and directly 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 and has sat and in some cases continues to sit on many boards and committees, including being co-founder of and for 6 years Chairman of Advance Cairns, the region's peak economic development and lobbying body, President of AFL Cairns for 8 years, Chair of the Finance Committee for the Roman Catholic Diocese of Cairns for nearly 20 years, co-founder of the Far North Queensland Hospitals Foundation, Chair of the Cairns Chapter of the Property Council of Australia, Chair of the Cairns Division of the AICD, a government appointee as Board Member of the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority and government appointee and Member of the Marine and Tropical Science Research Facility Ministerial Advisory Council. He is currently the Chair of the government owned corporation Ports North, which runs 9 commercial ports from Mourilyan to the Northern Territory border.

Russell is also a Senior Counsellor for the Queensland Law Society and in that role 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 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.

Non-Executive Director

Ms Rochelle Finlay

Rochelle is the founder and Director of JCU Connect – James Cook University’s one stop shop for researchers, business, community and government to partner through research and innovation.

Rochelle has over 25 years’ experience in supporting and managing collaborative research projects and programs linking business, community, government and research providers. Formal training in environmental and life sciences provided an essential background which expanded across diverse sectors and roles including many years with government regulatory agencies, research investment agencies, and research institutes in New Zealand, Australia and the UK. For the past 13 years, Rochelle has been driving research development and innovation strategies and partnerships within the New Zealand and Australian higher education sector.

A Fellow of ARMS, and a Graduate of the Australian Institute of Company Directors (GAICD), Rochelle is passionate about developing and implementing strategies that link industry needs with research solutions resulting in genuine social, environmental or economic impact.

Non-Executive Director

Dr Paul Hardisty

Dr Paul Hardisty commenced as Chief Executive Officer of the Australian Institute of Marine Science on 24 July 2017. An honours graduate in Geological engineering from the University of British Columbia, Canada, he has a Masters in Hydrology, and a Doctorate 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, with many of the stakeholder and customer groups that AIMS deals with. He has substantial experience of both the public and private sector. He was the founder, owner and leader of Komex Environmental Ltd, an international environmental consultancy, built from start-up to a $50 million pa turnover company with a thousand employees and sold to the engineering services company Worley Parsons, in 2006. From 2006-2013, Paul served as Global Director, Corporate Responsibility and Global Director, Sustainability and Economics for Worley Parsons. In 2013, Paul joined CSIRO, initially as Flagship Director, CSIRO Climate Adaptation Flagship, and more recently, as Business Unit Director, CSIRO Land and Water.

Non-Executive Director

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.

Non-Executive Director

Dr Joseph Morrison

Joe Morrison has Dagoman and Torres Strait Islander heritage and has over 25 years’ experience working with Indigenous people in northern Australia and more recently with Indigenous people globally. He has extensive advocacy, policy, research and practical experience in developing ranger programs, climate change, traditional knowledge conservation, fire management and carbon economies, water rights, public policy, Indigenous institutional governance, negotiating agreements and reforming and leading complex institutions. He has published in these and related areas.

He has a BA in Land Management from the University of Sydney and an Honorary Doctorate from the University of New South Wales for his contribution to Indigenous land and sea management, policy development, advocacy and related topics nationally.

He is currently the Managing Director of Six Seasons Pty Ltd, a company established to advance Indigenous people. Prior to this he was the Chief Executive Officer of the Northern Land Council and the founding CEO of the North Australian Indigenous Land & Sea Management Alliance spanning 18 years. He is currently a Director of the Environmental Defenders Office Australia, Australian Native Foods and Botanicals and Ilkara Wilpeena Resort, is advises a US based Foundation, Nia Tero on working with Indigenous people to secure their guardianship of globally important territories.

Non-Executive Director

Dr Keith Noble

Keith Noble is Chair of Terrain NRM, the regional Natural Resource Management body for Queensland’s Wet Tropics, and also Chairs the North Queensland NRM Alliance. He is a Rural Planner with his family company, Insideout Architects, and farms tropical fruit near Tully. Keith holds a PhD and MSc from James Cook University, a Bachelor of Agricultural Science from the University of Queensland, and a Graduate Diploma in Plant Protection from Gatton Agricultural College. Keith is a Fellow of the Australian Institute of Company Directors, and a Registered Planner with the Planning Institute of Australia.

Before farming, Keith worked in natural resource management throughout regional Australia, culminating in declaration of Australia’s largest terrestrial protected areas – the 97,000 km2 Ngaanyatjarra Lands Indigenous Protected Area in Western Australia. Keith was Founding Director of Australian Tropical Fruits and Australian Tropical Marketing before Cyclones Larry and Yasi changed the course of the tropical fruit industry. He is a past Director of Growcom, horticulture’s peak body, of Troplinks, and of Regional Development Australia FNQ&TS.

Keith has a demonstrated commitment to the appropriate development of Northern Australia, and his book, “Agriculture and Resilience in Australia’s North” was recently published by Springer Nature.

Non-Executive Director

Dr Liz O’Brien

Dr Liz O’Brien has a multi-sectoral career spanning Queensland public sector policy and investment roles, university research management, strategy development and government engagement, and industry applied research. She is currently the Industry Engagement manager for Agricultural Science and Biocommodities at QUT, with a key focus on brokering research partnerships and enabling the translation of research into impact. Over the past several years she has played a key role in securing over $27M of research funds for Griffith University.She has a strong grounding in marine research receiving a Bachelor of Zoology with 1st class honours, and the Deans commendation for outstanding PhD thesis for her research in molecular marine biology from the University of Queensland. In addition to her professional commitments, Liz is also a non-executive Director of the Queensland Trust for Nature.

Non-Executive Director

Alan Wallish

Alan Wallish is the founder, part-owner and Managing Director of Passions of Paradise, a Great Barrier Reef tour operator. For the past 30 years the company has been at the forefront of sustainable and eco-conscious tourism and is carbon neutral.

Alan is a Director of the Association of Marine Park Tourism Operators and Secretary of Dive Queensland. He holds a degree in Physical Geography, a second degree in Education and graduate qualifications in commerce. Alan is also a qualified Skipper and Diving Instructor.

His company Passions of Paradise is the recipient of 8 Queensland Tourism Awards, has been inducted into the Queensland Tourism Hall of Fame and is a former winner in Adventure Tourism at The Australian Tourism Awards. In addition, the company has won Eco-Tourism Australia Innovation in Tourism, QANTAS Excellence in Sustainability and numerous National Awards in the Diving industry. Passions of Paradise is a Climate Action Leader and GBRMPA High Standard Operator.

Alan has a long history with education, being one of the founding delegates of the Great Barrier Reef International Marine College and has been actively involved in all levels of government as a representative for Cairns reef tourism. As a business owner he is hands on with all aspects of the tourism industry and a vocal advocate for best practise.