Research Advisory Committee

The Research Advisory Committee (RAC) advises the MNF Steering Committee on matters relating to research proposals including alignment with MNF selection criteria for sea time applications.


Established in 1998 as an advisory committee under the Marine National Facility Steering Committee (MNF SC), the purpose of the Research Advisory Committee (RAC) is to provide advice to the MNF SC on:

The RAC is governed by Terms of Reference.

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


Dr Neville Smith, Chair

Dr Neville Smith specialises in ocean observations and ocean and climate modelling. He retired from the Bureau of Meteorology as Deputy Director in 2013 after a 27 year career. He spent 20 years in research, including as Chief Scientist before CAWCR was formed. That research spanned ocean observations and analysis, ocean modelling and prediction and climate.

Neville led the international Ocean Observations Panel for Climate from 1996 through to 2002 and was co-convenor of the first OceanObs Conferences in 1998. He led the international GODAE ocean prediction initiative from its inception through to 2006 and contributed to the creation of both Argo and the GHRSST projects during that time. Neville was Australia’s representative to the Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission for over 10 years, until his retirement, during which time he served as Vice-Chair and had a lead role in the IOC response to the 2004 tsunami. He has been a Vice-Chair of IPCC Working Group II from 2008-2015 through the preparation and publication of the Fifth Assessment Report.

In 2014, Neville took on the role as Co-Chair of the Tropical Pacific Observing System 2020 Project, a Project aiming to review and redesign the tropical Pacific Ocean Observing System. He has also been invited to Co-Chair the Copernicus Marine Environment Monitoring Service (CMEMS) Advisory Committee from 2015-2017. Neville is a Fellow of the Australian Academy of Technological Sciences and Engineering.

Dr Andrew Heap, Member
Geoscience Australia

Dr Andrew Heap is a highly regarded marine geologist with over 15 years of experience leading international and national marine geoscience programs. His most recent research has focused on identifying and quantifying the spatial and temporal connections between geological and biological marine systems. Andrew has successfully applied this research to support the establishment of marine reserves, the offshore geological storage of carbon dioxide, and offshore infrastructure development by the energy industry.

Andrew represented the Australian marine geoscience community on the Technical Advisory Group for commissioning of RV Investigator. This included successfully establishing the marine geoscience capabilities of the vessel, including the gravity meter, full ocean depth swath mapping and sub-bottom profiler system, long coring facility, and reinstatement of a marine research seismic reflection system.

Andrew has participated in more than 20 marine research voyages, including seven surveys on the former MNF research vessels Southern Surveyor and Franklin. His sea-going experience includes participation as Chief Scientist on nine multi-disciplinary research voyages. Andrew has been a proponent on several International Ocean Drilling Program (IODP) proposals to the Australasian region, including a proposal for the Japanese drill ship Chikyu to drill the first-ever deep stratigraphic research well in offshore Australia.

Andrew is a member of several science advisory boards and steering committees, including the Australia-New Zealand IODP Governing Council, the Chikyu IODP Board, and International Scientific Committee of the marine geological habitat mapping community, GeoHab.

Dr Edward Butler, Member
Australian Institute of Marine Science

Dr Edward Butler is AIMS–NT Science Leader at their Arafura Timor Research Facility, and Director of the North Australia Marine Research Alliance. His research interests cover environmental chemistry and chemical oceanography, with applications to oceanic studies from Antarctica to equatorial waters.

Edward has led diverse investigations of Australian estuarine and coastal systems, with often a focus on industries operating compatibly and sustainably in these environments, and recently framing interdisciplinary science to support multiple-use management of these waterways in northern Australia.

Associate Professor Nicole Jones
University of Western Australia

Associate Professor Nicole Jones is a Physical Oceanographer at the University of Western Australia. She uses a combination of field observations and numerical modelling to study primarily relatively small-scale ocean dynamics, including turbulent mixing, internal waves and ocean eddies. Understanding these processes is vital to quantify the transport of heat, pollutants and nutrients around the ocean.  Nicole has extensive fieldwork and cruise experience and a particular interest in the development of novel field-observation techniques. 

Nicole has been an Editor for the Journal of Physical Oceanography since 2018. She also represents the Western Australian marine science community by leading the Western Australia node of Australia’s Integrated Marine Observing System (IMOS). Nicole is passionate about the advancement of STEM women into leadership roles and is involved in both local and national efforts to achieve this.

Professor Moninya Roughan, Member
University of NSW / MetOcean Solutions

Associate Professor Moninya Roughan is a physical oceanographer with expertise in the dynamics of coastal ocean circulation. Moninya's research focuses on improving dynamical understanding of the coastal ocean including physical forcing mechanisms, nutrient enrichment processes and their biological impact. She uses a combination of observations from a range of platforms and numerical models to study the oceanography of the East Australian Current and its impact on the continental shelf waters.

Moninya's work has been funded by a variety sources including the Australia Research Council, a number of Australian Federal and State Government program, the US Office of Naval Research and private consultancies.

Over the past 10 years, Moninya has been instrumental in the design, deployment and ongoing development of one of the most comprehensive ocean observing systems in the southern hemisphere.  She has served as part of the NSW-IMOS leadership team since inception in 2007. Moninya served as leader and deputy leader of NSW node from 2007-2013, and continues to lead the oceanographic moorings facility and the deployment of ocean gliders and radar along the NSW coast.

Moninya has participated in and led voyages aboard a number of MNF research vessels including Franklin, Southern Surveyor and Investigator. She has received a number of awards for her research, including a University of Auckland Seelye Fellowship.  Moninya presently holds joint appointments at UNSW Sydney and MetOcean Solutions.

Dr Maria Seton, Member
University of Sydney

Dr Maria Seton is a marine geoscientist and plate tectonics expert. She was awarded her PhD from the University of Sydney in 2005, an Australian Postdoctoral Fellowship in 2009 and is currently an ARC Future Fellow in the EarthByte Group, School of Geosciences, University of Sydney. Maria was awarded the Dorothy Hill Medal from the Australian Acadamy of Sciences in 2014.

Maria's research largely focusses on using our knowledge of surface plate kinematics and the marine geological record to understand processes in the deep earth, how the deep Earth communicates with the surface and the influence of tectonics on Earth's long-term climate evolution. While much of her research is global in scale and scope, show has a particular interest in the tectonic, geodymanic and climate evolution of the SW Pacific and Zealandia.

Maria has participated in research voyages on French and Australian research vessels, most notably as Chief Scientist on one of the last voyages of the RV Southern Surveyor, to the Coral Sea. 

Dr Nerida Wilson, Member
Western Australian Museum

Dr Nerida Wilson is a research scientist at the Western Australian Museum, Perth, and manages its Molecular Systematic Unit. Her research interests focus on understanding and describing the extent of biological diversity present on earth and resolving the evolutionary relationships among those taxa. She is passionate about taxonomy and systematics as the foundational discipline that underpins biological science. 

Nerida has participated on 13 oceanographic expeditions and acted as Chief Scientist on several of those. Her interests span marine environments and her work encompasses the tropics to the poles and from shallow reefs to the deep sea.

Dr Katherina Petrou, Member (non-voting position)
Early Career Researcher, University of Technology Sydney

Dr Katherina Petrou's research couples phytoplankton physiology and biochemistry to investigate their cellular processes, biochemical and biomolecular shifts in response to environmental change. Her research spans a broad range of organisms and marine habitats, examining ecosystem interactions at various spatial scales.

Katherina's marine field experience includes participation in four research voyages on MNF research vessels Southern Surveyor and Investigator, and the Australian ice breaker RSV Aurora Australis. Her cumulative time at sea equates to over 120 days, during which Katherina has worked in multidisciplinary teams with scientists from around the world.

Dr Jason Everett, Member (non-voting position)
Early Career Researcher, University of New South Wales

Dr Jason Everett is a biological oceanographer with an interest in how oceanographic processes structure planktonic ecosystems. His research has focused on how flow regimes, boundary currents, eddies and upwelling events drive changes in the biomass, species distribution and size structure of zooplankton communities. Jason's current research focus is to quantify how the size, abundance and biomass of zooplankton and fish change across local, regional and global scales.

Jason is a member of the AODN Technical Advisory Committee and the convenor of the IMOS Zooplankton Ocean Observations and Modelling Task Team, which is working with observationalists to provide better zooplankton data products to the modelling community. Jason has been involved with the MNF since his first voyage in 2006 aboard Southern Surveyor and is currently analysing a global dataset of zooplankton size, which includes data from 19 separate MNF voyages.