Think Tank 2014 - Steering committee and invited experts

Steering committee

Emeritus Professor Bruce Armstrong AM FAA FAFPHM FRACP – co-Chair
School of Public Health, University of Sydney

Bruce Armstrong is internationally recognised for his research into the causes and prevention of skin cancer and melanoma and has contributed to knowledge on the causes and control of other cancers. His lifetime contributions to research in melanoma were recognised by an award at the 6th World Conference on Melanoma in 2005. As an Emeritus Professor at the University of Sydney, Bruce continues to engage in research into the genetic and environmental causes of cancer and the quality and performance of cancer services. He is employed as a Senior Advisor at the Sax Institute and chairs the board of the New South Wales’ Bureau of Health Information. Bruce was made a Member of the Order of Australia in 1998 for his work in cancer epidemiology and a Fellow of the Australian Academy of Science in 2000. He is an Honorary Life Member of the Public Health Association of Australia and an Honorary Member of the International Association of Cancer Registries. Bruce received the New South Wales Premier’s award for Outstanding Cancer Researcher of the Year in 2006.


Dr Graeme Pearman AM FAA FRSV FTSE – co-Chair
Graeme Pearman Consulting and Monash University

Graeme Pearman was trained as a biologist at the University of Western Australia. He joined CSIRO, in 1971 where he was Chief of Atmospheric Research, 1992–2002. He contributed over 150 scientific journal papers primarily on aspects of the global carbon budget. He now runs a consultancy company contracting to both private and public sector organisations and is an Adjunct Senior Research Fellow at Monash University. In the last decade he gave 500 briefings on climate-change science and sustainability to governments, peak industry bodies, public groups, and companies as part of their climate-change risk assessments.

Graeme’s memberships include the Board of the Climate Institute (Sydney) and adviser to the Singapore National Research Foundation (Singapore); German Council of Science and Humanities (Berlin); and the Australian Centre for Corporate Responsibility (Canberra).


Mr Guy Barnett
Urban Systems Program, CSIRO Ecosystem Sciences

Guy Barnett is an urban ecologist in the CSIRO Land and Water Flagship in Canberra, where he leads an interdisciplinary research team investigating the interactions between the urban environment and human health. Guy joined CSIRO in 1995 after completing a BSc (Hon) at the Australian National University, Canberra. Since then, he has worked on issues as wide ranging as the rehabilitation of mine sites to heat-related vulnerability and adaptation in social housing. He was on the organising committee for the 2010 Australian Academy of Science Fenner Conference on the Environment, ‘Healthy Climate, Planet and People’ and managed the recently completed $3.15 million CSIRO Flagship Collaboration Cluster on ‘Urbanism, Climate Adaptation and Health’ led by the National Centre for Epidemiology and Population Health at the Australian National University. He has published 13 journal articles, 6 book chapters, and 39 technical reports and is an active member of the Resilience Alliance, the Stockholm Resilience Centre, and UNESCO’s Urban Biosphere Network, URBIS.


Professor Helen Berry
Faculty of Health, University of Canberra

Helen Berry leads a research program on ‘People and Place’. She has personal interests in climate change, social capital, social identity, complex disadvantage and mental health in rural and remote areas and in Australian cities. She leads the health stream of the University of Canberra’s $6.3m Collaborative Research Network. She is author of the widely-cited ‘Australian Community Participation Questionnaire’ and of the new ‘Brief Weather Disaster Trauma Exposure and Impact Screen’, both of which are now included in large population health studies in Australia and overseas. She has won grants from the National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC), the Australian Research Council (ARC) and other major funders, and has research interests in European countries and in Vietnam and China. In 2009, she was recognised with second place in the prestigious national Eureka Prize for ‘outstanding research into the health impacts of climate change’ and in 2013 she was made a Distinguished Alumna of the University of Canberra.


Professor Alan Dupont
School of Social Sciences, University of New South Wales

Alan Dupont is Professor of International Security at the University of New South Wales and a non-resident Fellow at the Lowy Institute for International Policy. He was previously the foundation Michael Hintze Professor of International Security at the University of Sydney and CEO of the US Studies Centre. Professor Dupont is one of Australia’s best known strategists and is internationally recognised for his work on non-military challenges to security. His groundbreaking work on climate change has been published in leading international journals. He was the lead author on the national security implications of climate change for the Garnaut Review commissioned by the Federal Government in 2008. He has also been a ministerial adviser to a number of Australian government ministers as well as the President of Timor-Leste.


Professor Sharon Friel
Regulatory Institutions Network and the Menzies Centre for Health Policy, Australian National University

Sharon Friel is Professor of Health Equity and incoming Director of the Regulatory Institutions Network at the Australian National University (ANU). She is also Director of the Menzies Centre for Health Policy, ANU. Between 2005 and 2008 she was the Head of the Scientific Secretariat (University College London) of the World Health Organization Commission on Social Determinants of Health. Sharon’s research is policy and governance-focused in areas of trade and investment, urbanisation, food systems, and climate change and the impacts on health inequities in Australia, across Asia Pacific and globally.


Associate Professor David Harley
National Centre for Epidemiology and Population Health, Australian National University

David Harley is a zoologist, medical doctor, epidemiologist and public health physician. He is Associate Professor of Epidemiology at the Research School of Population Health and the Medical School at the Australian National University. 

He has expertise in infectious disease epidemiology, particularly vector-borne diseases. Ross River virus, Australia’s most important climate sensitive arbovirus, is a longstanding interest. He has published on tuberculosis, adenovirus, meningococcus, malaria, visceral leishmaniasis, and dengue. He leads a major research project on climate and the epidemiology of dengue in north Queensland, with Professor Tony McMichael among his co-investigators. He has research interests in International health and the health of marginalised and disempowered people, particularly Indigenous Australians and people living with disability.


Professor Tony McMichael AO FTSE
College of Medicine, Biology and Environment, Australian National University

Tony McMichael is Professor Emeritus (Population Health) at the Australian National University, Canberra – where, during 2001–2012, he headed the National Centre for Epidemiology and Population Health’s research program on population health risks of climate change.

He is an elected member of the US National Academies of Science, Honorary Professor of Climate Change and Health at the University of Copenhagen, and a director of the Climate Institute, a Sydney-based NGO. He has contributed substantially, since 1993, to scientific assessments of health risks by the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), and advises the World Health Organization on environmental-climatic risks to health – including chairing a recent assessment of how environmental changes, climate and agricultural practices influence the emergence of infectious diseases of poverty.

He is completing a book on the (very) long history of natural climate change impacts on the health and physical survival of human populations and their societies – and the implications for the future.


Professor Neville Nicholls
School of Geography and Environmental Science, Monash University

Neville Nicholls spent 35 years on climate research at the Bureau of Meteorology. In 2006 he moved to Monash University where he is in the School of Earth, Atmosphere and Environment. He has published over 150 papers in peer-reviewed scientific journals. His research has included using the El Niño – Southern Oscillation to predict climate variations including droughts and seasonal tropical cyclone activity, documenting climate and weather impacts on agriculture, ecosystems, and human health, and developing and analysing data sets for monitoring climate variations and change. At Monash he teaches a first year undergraduate unit ‘Climate Change: An Interdisciplinary Challenge’, and a third/fourth year unit ‘Geopolitics of Climate Change’. He was a coordinating lead author for the Second (1997) Assessment of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), and for the 2012 Special Report on climate extremes (SREX), and a lead author for the Fourth IPCC Assessment.


Professor Alistair Woodward
School of Population Health, University of Auckland

Alistair Woodward has been working on climate change and health for almost 20 years. His background is medicine, public health and epidemiology. Recent projects include impacts of heat in Tibet, adaptation planning in the Pacific and co-benefits of policy interventions in favour of active transport. He and Kirk Smith led the writing of the health chapter for the 5th assessment report of the IPCC. Alistair is Professor of Epidemiology and Biostatistics at the University of Auckland.


Invited experts

Professor Snow Barlow FTSE FAIAST
Melbourne School of Land and Environment, The University of Melbourne

Snow Barlow is a plant physiologist and agricultural scientist whose research interests encompass plant water use efficiency, viticulture and impacts of climate change on agriculture, water management and global food security. He is Foundation Professor of Horticulture and Viticulture at the University of Melbourne.

Snow chairs the Victorian Endowment for Science, Knowledge and Innovation and the Expert Advisory Panel of the Department of Agriculture, Filling the Research Gap and Action on the Ground Programs in Climate Change. He convenes the Primary Industries Research Adaptation Network of the National Climate Change Adaptation Research Facility.

As president of the Federation of Australian Scientific and Technological Societies he was a member of the Prime Minister’s Science Engineering and Innovation Council. Snow has served on the boards of two Rural Industry Research and Development Corporations, the Irrigation Futures and Futures Farming Industries CRC and on the Biological Sciences Committee of the Australian Research Council.

Snow is a Fellow of the Australian Academy of Technological Sciences and Engineering, the Australian Institute of Agricultural Science and Technology and in 2009 was awarded the 'Australian Medal of Agricultural Science'.


Professor Peng Bi
School of Population Health, University of Adelaide

Professor Peng Bi is Professor of Public Health at the University of Adelaide. His expertise is in the fields of environmental and infectious disease epidemiology. He has wide research experience in managing environmental health problems, including the impact of extreme heat on population health, and relevant adaptation strategies.

Peng has been successful in winning 11 Category One grants since 2006, including ARC, AusAID, Department of Science and Technology, and the National Climate Change Adaptation Research Facility. He is mentor of four postdoctoral fellows, four PhD students and two junior academic staff.

Professor Bi has published research findings in the area of environmental change and population health. He has worked in collaboration with SA Health and SA SES, providing evidence to inform policy decisions in relation to the Extreme Heat Early Warning System. He was node leader of Heat and Health at the National Climate Change Adaptation Research Facility and, together with colleagues, helped redevelop national climate change and population health research strategies and directions.


Professor Roger Bradbury
Science, Technology & Environment, Office of National Assessments

Roger Bradbury is a professor and director (Academic, Research & Outreach) in the National Security College at the Australian National University, and a Fellow in the CSIRO Centre for Complex Systems Science. He leads the interdisciplinary and international Strategy and Statecraft in Cyberspace program hosted at the College. He also advises on international science and technology issues for the Office of National Assessments. He founded Tjurunga Pty Ltd, a practice in the science of complexity, in 2000. He was previously the Chief Scientist with the Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry in Canberra.

He has a background in the modelling and analysis of complex systems and is currently particularly interested in the complex strategic interactions between states in cyberspace.

From 2004 to 2012, he led a multidisciplinary research group within the World Bank-funded Coral Reef Targeted Research project. This group built models and decision support systems of coral reef ecosystems and their associated human socio-economic systems.


Associate Professor Simon Hales
University of Otago


Professor John Handmer
RMIT University

John Handmer leads RMIT’s Risk and Community Safety research group and holds adjunct professorial positions at ANU and at the Flood Hazard Research Centre in London. He is a member of the National Flood Risk Advisory Group, and the national committee revising the Australian Emergency Risk Assessment Guide, and was Convener of the National Climate Change Adaptation Research Network for Emergency Management, and Principle Scientific Advisor for the Bushfire CRC. He was a Coordinating Lead Author for the IPCC’s special report on extremes. His research group has won a number of research awards, and was commended in the recent report Excellence in Innovation in Australia. His most recent book is J Handmer and S Dovers (2013) Handbook of disaster policies and institutions: improving emergency management and climate change adaptation. He works on the human dimensions of emergency management and disasters.


Dr Peter Tait
Medical School, Australian National University

Peter Tait has been a general practitioner for 32 years, 29 in Aboriginal health in central Australia. He was the 2007 Royal Australian College of General Practitioners GP of the Year. He moved to Canberra in 2011, and continues work in general practice. He is an adjunct senior lecturer at ANU Medical School. He is involved in climate change research at the University of NSW and at the ANU, where he was awarded a Masters of Climate Change in 2010.

Peter believes a person’s health is grounded in a healthy society, and a healthy society on a healthy ecosystem. He is active in the Public Health Association Australia, Doctors for the Environment Australia, Frank Fenner Foundation and other environment groups.


Professor Shilu Tong
Institute of Health and Biomedical Innovation, Queensland University of Technology

Shilu is an NHMRC Senior Research Fellow in the School of Public Health and Social Work, Institute of Health and Biomedical Innovation, Queensland University of Technology. He leads a research program on the assessment of the potential impact of ecosystem change on population health, which is partly funded by NHMRC, ARC, Queensland Centre of Climate Change of Excellence, Queensland Health, Departments of Emergency Services, Natural Resources and Water, and Environmental Protection Agency. He has been awarded 7 ARC and 4 NHMRC national competitive grants, and has published 236 refereed publications in scientific, medical and epidemiological journals. He is Associate Editor of the  American Journal of Epidemiology and an editorial board member of Environmental Research and PLoS ONE.


© 2018 Australian Academy of Science

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