Scientific Advisory Committee

The Scientific Advisory Committee (SAC) 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 (MNFSC), the purpose of the Scientific Advisory Committee (SAC) is to provide advice to the MNFSC on:

The SAC is governed by Terms of Reference.

Prior to 1998, a User Sub-committee assisted MNFSC with vessel scheduling advice, a task now undertaken by the MNF Ship Management Group and the Supplementary Scheduling Committee.

It should be noted that the SAC 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 Sue Barrell, BSc(Hons), PhD, FTSE, Member (ex officio)
Chair, MNF Steering Committee

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 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.

A/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 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.