WAMSI broadens its independent capability with new R&D committee

The Western Australian Marine Science Institution (WAMSI) has welcomed four new research and industry heavyweights to its Research and Development Committee, adding to the leadership, science, innovation and business acumen to oversee its research development performance.

Director of The University of Western Australia (UWA) Centre for Offshore Foundation Systems and 2015 WA Scientist of the Year Professor Mark Cassidy FTSE;  UWA Emeritus Professor Di Walker; Managing Director of the respected marine and coastal environmental consulting service BMT Oceanica Mark Bailey; and Principal Research Scientist at CSIRO Dr Beth Fulton join standing members, Executive Director of the Science and Conservation Division for the Department of Parks and Wildlife Dr Margaret Byrne, WAMSI Chair Naomi Brown, and independent Chair Kevin Goss, to see WAMSI’s current projects through to completion and establish its future direction.     

The four new committee members will join (L-R) WAMSI R&D Independent Chair Kevin Goss, WAMSI Chair Naomi Brown and Director Science Division, Department of Parks and Wildlife Dr Margaret Byrne (photo: Angela Rossen)

WAMSI is delivering two of the largest single-issue marine research programs in Australia. The $20 million Dredging Science Node will vastly improve the planning and regulation of major dredging operations in the marine environment around Australia.

WAMSI’s $30 million Kimberley Marine Research Program is delivering the research needed to support the management of the Kimberley region’s marine environments, particularly the proposed State Government marine parks as part of the Kimberley Science and Conservation Strategy.

“The new committee includes leading scientists with multi-disciplinary backgrounds, and experts who apply new research and information,” WAMSI CEO Patrick Seares said. “Together they provide different perspectives to enhance our research quality, which is critical for an outcomes focussed collaboration such as WAMSI.”

“These high calibre committee members are exactly the right group to ensure both excellent finalisation and knowledge transfer of our current research programs, as well as provide added value and independent oversight of the emerging research planning activities under the Blueprint for Marine Science,” Mr Seares said. 

Mr Seares thanked outgoing members: AIMS Science and Business Leader Dr Steve Rogers; CSIRO Research Leader Dr Andy Steven; and UWA Emeritus Professor Alistar Robertson for their leadership and guidance.

“Overseeing the start-up of a $50 million research agenda across 14 research organisations, and in some complex and unstudied environments, is not without its challenges,” he said. “I speak on behalf of all the WAMSI joint venture partners when I thank the past members for their efforts in establishing a high quality, and high value, science program.”

WAMSI Research and Development Committee:

  • Mr Kevin Goss: Chair (ex CEO Future Farm Industries)
  • Ms Naomi Brown: WAMSI, Chairman
  • Dr Margaret Byrne : Director Science Division, Department of Parks and Wildlife
  • Prof Mark Cassidy FTSE: Director of the Centre for Offshore Foundation Systems at UWA
  • Prof Di Walker:  Emeritus Professor, UWA
  • Mr Mark Bailey: Managing Director, BMT Oceanica
  • Dr Beth Fulton: Principal Research Scientist, CSIRO


Professor Mark Cassidy FTSE 

Professor Mark Cassidy is an ARC Laureate Fellow, the Lloyd’s Register Foundation Chair in Offshore Foundations, Deputy Director of the ARC Centre of Excellence for Geotechnical Science and Engineering and Director of UWA’s Centre for Offshore Foundation Systems (COFS). Mark graduated in Civil Engineering with a University medal from the University of Queensland in 1994, and as a Rhodes Scholar, attained a doctorate in Engineering Science from the University of Oxford in 1999. His research interests are in offshore geotechnics and engineering, predominantly in developing models for the analysis of oil and gas platforms, mobile drilling rigs, anchors and pipelines.

Mark is a distinguished civil engineer whose research has underpinned the safe and economic construction of oil and gas platforms in our oceans. His advice has been incorporated into the design of platform and pipeline infrastructure currently being constructed off the coast of Western Australia. As an Australian Research Council Laureate Fellow, Professor Cassidy’s research seeks solutions to unlock the vast reserves of stranded gas in our remote and deep oceans, where the geotechnical response of the seabed sediment is poorly understood. Mark has published over 190 refereed journal and conference papers and jointly holds two international patents with Singaporean mobile jack-up builders Keppel Offshore and Marine. He is a Fellow of the Australian Academy of Technological Sciences and Engineering and Engineers Australia. Mark was named Western Australian Scientist of the Year 2015.

Professor Diana Walker 

Emeritus Winthrop Professor Di Walker researches in Marine Botany at the Oceans Institute at the The University of Western Australia. Her research interests are in the ecology of seagrasses and macroalgae and she has published widely in the international literature on nutrient cycling and productivity by seagrasses and macroalgae in marine and estuarine environments.  Her work includes the impact of sewage outfalls on coral reefs in the Red Sea, nutrient cycling in system scale studies in Shark Bay and Rottnest Island, consequences of seagrass loss in Princess Royal Harbour, Albany, and studies of the roles of seagrass meadows around the WA coast. 

Di has published over a 110 refereed scientific papers and book chapters.  She has also edited or co-edited 10 books.

Mr Mark Bailey 

Mark is the Managing Director of BMT Oceanica and a Senior Principal Consultant.  Mark has substantial professional experience in engineering and environmental work. Mark commenced his career as a civil engineer in 1986 and worked in marine construction and commercial project management.  Since completing his MEngSc in environmental modelling in 1996, Mark has worked continuously in the fields of marine environmental impact assessment and environmental project management.

Mark has strategic, commercial and business management skills developed in his role as a director of Oceanica and BMT Oceanica since 2002.  Mark is a Certified Practising Engineer with the Institution of Engineers Australia and a graduate of the Australian Institute of Company Directors.

Dr Elizabeth (Beth) Fulton 

Beth Fulton obtained her BSc (with first class Honours jointly in Mathematics and Marine Biology) from James Cook University in Townsville in 1997 and her PhD on ‘The effects of the structure and formulation of ecosystem models on model performance’ at the University of Tasmania in 2000.

She joined CSIRO in 2001 as a postdoctoral Fellow, looking into robust indicators of the ecological effects of fishing. It was at this time she applied the lessons learnt in her PhD to begin the serious development of the ecosystem model Atlantis and to begin co-developing InVitro. She was appointed to CSIRO as a research scientist in 2004, eventually taking up leadership of the ecosystem modelling and development team.

The Atlantis computer model was rated the world’s best for strategic evaluation of marine fisheries management issues by the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation. It is used to provide strategic advice to management bodies in Australia, the United States and Europe. The InVitro computer model, which she co-developed, allows users to explore the impacts and management of the myriad pressures on marine and coastal environments. These models were the first ones in the world to give equal attention to biophysical and human components of marine ecosystems.