Chair & Directors

Independent Chair

Dr Andrew John Ash

Andrew Ash is a Chief Research Scientist in CSIRO. He 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 30 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 has spent much of his time in CSIRO over the last fifteen years in senior management roles. He was CSIRO’s Rangelands and Savannas Program Leader from 2000-2006, Deputy Chief of CSIRO Sustainable Ecosystems Division from 2006-07 and then inaugural Director of the Climate Adaptation Flagship from 2007-20013. 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 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 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.

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 Liz O’Brien

Dr Liz O’Brien is a professional research manager with a multi-sectoral career which has spanned Queensland public sector policy and investment roles, university research management and strategy development; and industry applied research. She is currently the Senior Network Engagement Manager for Griffith University with a key focus on coordinating engagement with between academic experts and government to help inform the development of policy for long term impact and influence. Over the previous seven years, Liz brokered complex research partnerships and 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 has dedicated much of her time serving on the executive of the Zillmere Eagles Junior AFL Club for several years and securing funds to rebuild the clubhouse and community.

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.