Research Advisory Committee

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


Established in 1998 as an advisory committee under the Marine National Facility Steering Committee (MNFSC), the purpose of the Research Advisory Committee (RAC) is to provide advice to the MNFSC on the Research Quality of research proposals under the Merit Assessment Process and other matters requiring expertise as needed.

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


Emeritus Professor Peter Steinberg, Chair

Peter Steinberg is Emeritus Professor of Biology at The University of New South Wales and Visiting Professor at Nanyang Technological University in Singapore. From 2009-2020 he was the inaugural Director and CEO of the Sydney Institute of Marine Science. Peter has more than 35 years of experience in a diversity of biological and ecological fields, including coastal ecology, marine restoration and environmental microbiology. Peter has been a Fulbright Scholar, a Queen Elizabeth II Fellow, CEO of an ASX listed biotechnology company, and director of major research centres and programs in Australia and internationally.

Peter has over 230 publications and 10 patents, including publications in Science, Nature, PNAS and other leading journals, which have been cited over 27,000 times. In 2017, the Australian Marine Science Association awarded Peter their Silver Jubilee Award for outstanding contributions to marine science. In 2020 and 2021, he was a Web of Science highly cited researcher and in 2021 was awarded the NSW Premier's Science and Engineering Prize for Excellence in Biological Sciences (Ecological, environmental, agricultural and organismal).

Peter has been involved in a number of major regional or national marine initiatives in Australia, including as a member of the Expert Panel advising NSW’s Marine Estate Management Authority, as a Board Member of IMOS, a member of the National Marine Science Committee, and was in the lead authorship group for Australia’s National Marine Science Plan 2015 - 2025

Professor Carmen Gaina, Member

Professor Carmen Gaina is a geoscientist specialised in marine geophysics and oceanic basin evolution. For the last 25 years, she has studied oceanic basins of both hemispheres aiming to link their geological history with the evolution of global sea-level, volcanism and climate. Carmen has worked with geophysical data collected from different platforms (ships, ground, airborne, and satellites) and led and participated in numerous international projects where this data was collated and analysed.

Carmen is recognised as a specialist in gravity and magnetic data analysis and modelling of large regions (global oceans and polar regions) or globally. She led multi-disciplinary projects where geoscientific data (geophysics, geology, geochemistry, etc) was used to construct large geodynamic models to explain temporal and spatial evolution of oceanic basins and adjacent continental margins. Carmen collaborates with seismologists for understanding the nature and configuration of Earth’s crust and mantle, and with oceanographers and climate scientists for quantifying the interactions between solid Earth, oceans and atmosphere through time.

Carmen worked in Romania, Australia and Norway in universities and government organizations. She participated in seven blue-water research cruises in the Pacific, Indian and Arctic oceans (the last one, in 2021, as an on-shore co-PI). Carmen has been part of data collection planning for three of them, and have directly contributed to the collection, monitoring, processing and analysing geophysical data for all cruises. She has experience with data and marine environment from continental shelf to the abyssal domain and to mid-ocean ridges in a variety of tectonic setting including marginal basins and large oceans.

Professor Simon Jarman, Member

Professor Jarman is a marine scientist with more than 20 years research experience. Simon's research expertise is in genomics of marine organisms, focusing on population biology and life cycle analysis of large marine animals, and environmental DNA research on biodiversity of the oceans.

Simon has worked for several universities, the Australian Commonwealth Government, and the CSIRO. He has spent almost two years in total at sea on various research voyages.

Simon is currently Professor of Biodiversity Genomics based at the University of Western Australia’s Oceans Institute at the Indian Ocean Marine Research Centre. He has marine research projects in Western Australia, the Antarctic, sub-Antarctic and the Alaskan coast. Simon teaches Biological Oceanography, Environmental Genomics, and Animal Population Biology.

Dr Helen Bostock, Member

Associate Professor Helen Bostock is a marine geologist who focusses on paleoceanography and biogeochemistry of the oceans. Helen was awarded her PhD from the Australian National University in 2005 and has worked at Geoscience Australia, Canberra, and the National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research (NIWA), Wellington and, in 2019, joined the University of Queensland as Associate Professor.

Helen’s research has largely focussed on using a range of chemistry and plankton/microfossils in water samples and sediment cores to understanding the carbon cycle and ocean circulation in the Southwest Pacific and Southern Ocean, both in the present and past over glacial/interglacial cycles.

Helen has participated in more than 10 research voyages on the RV Tangaroa, RV Falkor and RV Investigator, as well as a number of commercial and education voyages.

Associate Professor Nicole Jones, Member

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

Professor Moninya Roughan is a physical oceanographer with expertise in the dynamics of western boundary currents and their interaction with 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. More recently she has been focussing on understanding the dynamics driving marine heatwaves. Moninya 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 of sources including the Australia Research Council, a number of Australian Federal and New Zealand government programs, 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 through her leadership in Australia's Integrated Marine Observing System. 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 since 1988 including ORV Franklin, RV Southern Surveyor and RV Investigator and other vessels internationally. She has received a number of awards for her research, including a University of Auckland Seelye Fellowship. She has served on the  MNF Research Advisory Committee since 2017.

Associate Professor Maria Seton, Member

Associate Professor Maria Seton is a marine geoscientist based in the School of Geosciences, University of Sydney. Maria was awarded her PhD from the University of Sydney in 2005, an Australian Postdoctoral Fellowship in 2009 and an ARC Future Fellowship in 2013. Maria was awarded the Dorothy Hill Medal from the Australian Academy 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, she has a particular interest in the tectonic, geodynamic 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. 

Early Career Researcher - vacant