National Benefit Advisory Committee

The National Benefit Advisory Committee (NBAC) advises the MNF Steering Committee on matters relating to the assessment of national benefit for MNF Granted Voyage applications.


The National Benefit Advisory Committee (NBAC) was established in 2016 as an advisory committee to provide advice to the MNF SC on the assessment of national benefit for MNF Granted Voyage applications.

It should be noted that the NBAC does not evaluate User Funded Voyage applications, with this process managed through the Supplementary Scheduling Committee (SSC) who report to the MNF directly for this purpose.

The NBAC is governed by Terms of Reference.


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 (ex-Chief Scientist, Geoscience Australia)

Dr Clinton Foster has been studying geology and fluid histories of onshore and offshore sedimentary basins for 40 years. In June 2016, he retired as 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 the other research entities including the National Computational Infrastructure at the ANU. 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.

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, and has been a Board member of various CRCs with marine and coastal interests.

Ms Josephine Mummery, Member
Independent Member, Earth Systems and Climate Change 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 an independent member of the Earth Systems and Climate Change Hub Steering Committee under the National Environmental Science Programme. She is also General Manager of the Open Digital Earth Foundation which aims to build international partnerships to harness the growing power of spatial globes and satellites for wider societal benefit.

Mr Jason Mundy, Member
Assistant Secretary, Marine Parks Branch, Parks Australia

Jason Mundy is Assistant Secretary of the Marine Parks Branch in the Parks Australia Divison of the Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment. He is responsible for managing the Australian Government's 58 Australian Marine Parks. These parks, located around Australia, are managed to protect marine biodiversity and other natural, cultural and heritage values of the parks; and to allow ecologically sustainable use of marine resources.

Previously, Jason was General Manager, Strategies Branch at the Australian Antarctic Division from 2011 until January 2016. Prior to that, he worked for the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade on overseas postings in the Philippines and Thailand, and positions in Canberra including Director, China Political and External Section.

Jason also worked as a Senior Adviser in the Office of the Minister for Foreign Affairs and as a senior adviser in the International Division of the Depatment of the Prime Minister and Cabinet. 

He holds an MA (International Relations), a Graduate Diploma (Foreign Affairs and Trade), and did his first degree, a Bachelor of Arts and Law (with First Class Honours in law), at the University of Tasmania.

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.

Mr 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 board of several science and conservation organisatoins. He is a member of the Council of the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) and is the Council's gloabal focus person on oceans. Peter chairs the Steering Committee of the National Environmental Science Program’s Marine Biodiversity Hub, the Sydney Institute of Marine Science, the Blue Mountains World Heritage Institute and the Australian Tropical Herbarium.

In 2017 Peter was appointed as a Commissioner of the NSW Independent Planning Commission. In 2018 he was appointed as an Assistant Commissioner of the NSW Natural Resources Commission. 

Peter was an adviser to the national State of Environment Report 2016, focussed on building its 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, Dr Abbott has spent over 200 days at sea since 2011.