National Benefit Assessment Panel

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


The National Benefit Assessment Panel (NBAP) was established in 2016 as an advisory committee to provide advice to the MNFSC on the assessment of national benefit for MNF Granted Voyage applications.

It should be noted that the NBAP 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 NBAP is governed by Terms of Reference.


Professor Brigid Heywood BSc PhD, Chair
Deputy Vice Chancellor (Research), University of Tasmania

Professor Brigid Heywood is Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Research) at the University of Tasmania. Brigid has responsibility for the research and innovation strategy of the University, the University research institutes, research students, research infrastructure and commercialisation services.

Prior to taking up this position, 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.

Throughout her academic and wider professional career, 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 and, more recently, in NZ 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 Sue Barrell, BSc(Hons), PhD, FTSE, Member
Chair, MNF Steering Committee (ex officio)

Dr Sue Barrell FTSE is passionate about the application of science to delivering highly valued outcomes for Australians and is a committed advocate for empowering girls and women to take up science careers.

Following a long career at the Bureau of Meteorology, Australia's national weather, climate and water agency, Sue retired in August 2018 from her final role as Chief Scientist. Her experience spanned roles across many of the Bureau's operations, from forecasting to research to science and climate change policy to Senior Executive.

Sue has been actively involved in international efforts in relation to climate policy and the coordination and integration of earth observations, including through the Global Climate Observing System, the Intergovernmental Group on Earth Observations, the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change and the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. Sue was Australia's Principal Representative to the World Meteorological Organisation (WMO) and a member of WMO Executive Council during 2016-17, and served as Vice President, WMO Commission for Basic Systems from 2008 to 2016. She contributes to and leads several high-level WMO initiatives and serves on several boards and advisory committees.

Sue was recognised as a Fellow of the Academy of Technological Sciences and Engineering (ATSE) in 2013, and is a Graduate member of the Australian Institute of Company Directors. She has a BSc (Hons) in Physics and a PhD in Astronomy. In July 2017, Sue was recognised as a Science and Technology Australia Inaugural Superstar of STEM.

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 andGas 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 Martin Exel, Member
General Manager Environment and Policy, Austral Fisheries

Mr Martin Exel is the General Manager, Environment and Policy, with Austral Fisheries, where he has worked since 1997. He is the inaugural Chair of the international Coalition of Legal Toothfish Operators (COLTO) formed in 2003, and has been a board member of the Institute for Marine and Antarctic Studies (IMAS) with the University of Tasmania since February 2011.

Martin holds a BSc plus a GradDip in Fisheries Technology, and is a graduate of the AICD. He has held various roles in the seafood industry over the past 35 years, including as a board member of the Commonwealth Fisheries Association from 2003 – 2014, and Chair from 2010 to 2013, working in Commonwealth government fisheries management agencies from 1984 to 1997 (culminating as General Manager, Fisheries in AFMA from 1991 to 1997. Martin has been a professional fisherman in both New Zealand and Australia.

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 taskforces 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.

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, and has been an adviser to the national State of Environment Report, focused on building its audience and utility. Peter chairs the Steering Committee of the National Environmental Science Program’s Marine Biodiversity Hub and is an Adjunct Fellow at the Fenner School of Environment and Society at the Australian National University.

Peter is a Director of Ecotourism Australia, Tangaroa Blue Foundation, and chairs the Blue Mountains World Heritage Institute. He sits on the Steering Group of the Protected Area Learning and Research Collaboration.

In addition to the NBAP, Peter is a member of the science evaluation panel for Geoscience Australia’s marine program.

Peter was elected to the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Council in 2016 to serve a four year term as a Regional Councillor for Oceania. He is a member of the IUCN World Commission on Protected Areas and was a member of its Executive and Steering Committees (2014-2016). He is an associate with two consulting companies, Futureye and Empowering Engagements.  Peter was Director of National Parks and head of Parks Australia from 1999-2013.

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.