National Benefit Advisory Committee

The National Benefit Advisory Committee (NBAC) advises the MNF Steering Committee on the Research Benefit of applications for sea time under the Merit Assessment Process.


The National Benefit Advisory Committee (NBAC) was established in 2016 as an advisory committee to provide advice to the MNF SC on the Research Benefit of research proposals under the Merit Assessment Process and any other matters requiring expertise as needed.

The NBAC is governed by Terms of Reference [pdf · 1mb].


Professor Brigid Heywood BSc PhD, Chair
Vice Chancellor and CEO, University of New England

Professor Brigid Heywood is Vice-Chancellor and CEO at the University of New England. Throughout her career, Brigid has successfully driven advances in academic excellence, research performance and engagement through innovation knowledge transfer.

Prior to taking up this position, Brigid was the Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Research) at the University of Tasmania. Brigid had responsibility for the research and innovation strategy of the University, the University research institutes, research students, research infrastructure and commercialisation services.

Formerly Brigid was the Assistant Vice-Chancellor Research, Academic and Enterprise at Massey University in New Zealand, where she led the development and implementation of the strategies, policies and standards to underpin its research and teaching effort. Before this, Brigid held the office of Pro Vice-Chancellor for Research and Enterprise at England’s Open University. Her academic background and research career placed Brigid as a leader at the intersection of medical sciences and inorganic chemistry, and she has worked in diverse fields from process science to earth sciences, to advanced materials.

Brigid has always worked closely with business and industry, and used those opportunities to advance her interests in enterprise and innovation as drivers to foster economic and social change, and regenerate communities. In both the UK, Africa, South East Asia, NZ and, more recently, in Australia she has been involved in many successful IP spin-outs from universities. Brigid has worked in developing new science parks, nurtured on-campus incubators for high growth potential businesses as vehicles to foster new modes of interactions between universities and industry, and fostered student enterprise initiatives.

Dr Clinton Foster, Member
Consultant; Honorary Professor, Research School of Earth Sciences, Australian National University (ex-Chief Scientist, Geoscience Australia)

Dr Clinton Foster is a consultant geologist and an Honorary Professor at the Research School of Earth Sciences, Australian National University. From 2011-16, Clinton was the Chief Scientist of Geoscience Australia, a role that required an appreciation of the sciences across the agency and continued promotion of Earth Systems Science, made possible through collaboration with other research entities including the CSIRO and the NCI. From 2003-2011, Clinton was Chief of the Petroleum and Marine Division at Geoscience Australia, where he was responsible for a wide range of programs including the Law of the Sea and offshore acreage promotion for carbon sequestration and hydrocarbon exploration.

Clinton is a strong advocate for the MNF and promotion of marine science. He was an initial member of the Ocean’s Policy Science Advisory Group, the Australian Petroleum Production and Exploration Association (APPEA) Oil and Gas Upstream Strategy Implementation Group, a technical advisor to the Australian Government National CCS Council, Vice Chair of the Carbon Sequestration Leadership Forum (CSLF) Technical Group, member of the Antarctic Science Advisory Committee, and has been a Board member of, inter alia, two CRCs focussed on marine and coastal research.

Ms Josephine Mummery, Member
Chair, Climate Systems Hub Steering Committee
Research Fellow, University of Canberra

Ms Jo Mummery has over 20 years experience in climate change policy, programs and research. She is currently Research Fellow at the Institute for Governance and Policy Analysis (University of Canberra) with research interests in how science can contribute to transformative decision-making for effective climate adaptation.

For 15 years, Jo was in senior executive service positions in Australian Government Departments with responsibilities for managing Australia’s national investment in climate change science, adaptation programs in the Pacific, and domestic adaptation initiatives such as the first robust national assessment of coastal risks from sea level rise, and establishment of the National Elevation Data Framework. She also led initial national work to scope and build partnerships to address greenhouse gas emissions from the land sectors.

From 2012 to 2014, Jo was a member of the Boards of the Centre of Excellence for Climate System Science, and the Antarctic Climate and Ecosystems CRC.

Jo is the Chair of the Climate Systems Hub Steering Committee under the National Environmental Science Programme.

Ms Miranda Taylor, Member
CEO, National Energy Resources Australia (NERA)

Ms Miranda Taylor is the CEO of National Energy Resources Australia. Prior to this appointment, she was the Director Environment, Safety and Operational Performance for APPEA. Miranda has over 20 years’ experience in strategic policy, risk management and stakeholder engagement, working with various industries, and state and federal government. She has participated in various task forces and ministerial panels, and has presented at international oil and gas industry events. Miranda facilitated APPEA's interaction with the global industry in response to the Gulf of Mexico oil well control integrity disaster and the Australian Montara incident.

Miranda has an honours degree from The London School of Economics, London University in International Economics and Politics, and a postgraduate degree in Labour Relations.

Adjunct Professor Peter Cochrane, Member
Chair, NESP Marine Biodiversity Hub

Mr Peter Cochrane has over twenty years experience in senior executive leadership and governance roles in the public and private sectors. He consults on environment and sustainability issues. Peter is a member of the Council of the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), and chairs the Sydney Institute of Marine Science, the Blue Mountains World Heritage Institute and the Australian Tropical Herbarium. He is a director of Earthwatch Australia and TierraMar Ltd. 

Peter is a Commissioner of the NSW Independent Planning Commission and an Assistant Commissioner of the NSW Natural Resources Commission. He chaired the Steering Committee of the National Environmental Science Program's Marine Biodiversity Hub from 2015-2021.

Peter was an adviser to the national State of Environment Reports for 2016 and 2021, focussed on building the Report's audience and utility; co-chaired the 2016 Commonwealth Reserves Review on the management of Australian Marine Parks and was a member of its Expert Scientific Panel; and was a member of the science evaluation panel for Geoscience Australia's marine program.

Peter was Director of National Parks and head of Parks Australia from 1999-2013 and Deputy Executive Director of the Australian Petroleum and Production Association from 1994-1999.

Dr April Abbott, Member (non-voting position)
Early Career Researcher, Macquarie University

Dr Abbott holds her PhD in Ocean, Earth, and Atmospheric Sciences from Oregon State University and MSc in Geological Sciences from the University of Minnesota. She has been a lecturer in sediment geochemistry and palaeoceanography at Macquarie University since 2016 where she teaches undergraduate and graduate courses in marine geology.

April’s current research focuses on using modern pore water geochemistry compositions to further our understanding of sediment proxies used in palaeoclimate research and she recently provided first-of-their kind neodymium isotope measurements from marine porewater. April served on the board for the Macquarie University Marine Research Centre as an early career representative in 2018 and sits on the Research Training Working Group of the National Marine Science Committee.

April has directed the Collaborative Australian Postgraduate Sea Training Alliance Network (CAPSTAN) since its inaugural voyage in 2017. April has worked closely with Marine National Facility and universities across the country to transform marine science education by providing at sea training for postgraduate students on board RV Investigator. Between research and training, April has spent more than 200 days at sea since 2011.