Plenary Speakers

Dr Karl Braganza
Head of Climate Monitoring, Bureau of Meteorology
Bureau of Meteorology Twitter: @BOM_au

Karl Braganza is the Head of Climate Monitoring at the Bureau of Meteorology. As well as being responsible for the preparation and analysis of Australia’s instrumental climate record, the Climate Monitoring Section plays a key role in briefing government agencies on climate change. This role has seen Karl advocate for a more integrated approach to managing climate risks, encouraging collaboration between science, technology and policy experts.

Karl Braganza received his PhD from the School of Mathematics at Monash University. His research work centred on understanding and attributing climate variability and change, using numerical modelling, instrumental observations and past climate evidence. He has been a lead author for the joint Bureau of Meteorology/CSIRO State of the Climate publications and the Climate Change in Australia Technical Reports.

Dr Katherine Tuft
General Manager at Arid Recovery
Twitter: @KatherineTuft

Katherine Tuft has a background in conservation research and management, particularly in the NGO sector. She currently manages the Arid Recovery Reserve, a 123 km2 predator-proof fenced reserve. Arid Recovery was established in 1997 and manages populations of threatened species, while driving research to re-establish animals in the wild. The reserve protects threatened mammals such as bettongs and bilbies that would otherwise be decimated by feral animals.

Kath leads the team at Arid Recovery, managing operations, overseeing the science program and coordinating community engagement. Arid Recovery is a highly collaborative organisation and much of Kath’s work involves fostering partnerships and facilitating collaborations and relationships with partners, researchers, students and volunteers.

Professor Kristofer Helgen
Professor of Biological Sciences
Deputy Director of the Centre for Applied Conservation Science at the University of Adelaide
Twitter: @khelgen

Kris Helgen is Professor of Biological Sciences and Deputy Director of the Centre for Applied Conservation Science at the University of Adelaide. His research focuses especially on fieldwork and research in museum collections to document the richness of life, explore global change, and contribute to important problems in biomedicine. Kris is a National Geographic Explorer and served as Curator of Mammals at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History from 2008-2017. He has worked professionally in more than 50 countries, and has documented and named dozens of previously overlooked species of living mammals, including the Skywalker Hoolock Gibbon of southern China and Myanmar, the Greater Monkey-Faced Bat of Papua New Guinea and the Solomon Islands, and the Olinguito of the Andes Mountains. He has organised and led major research expeditions all over the world. He is a dedicated public communicator in support of biodiversity discovery and conservation.

Professor Lesley Hughes
Professor, Department of Biological Sciences, Macquarie University
Macquarie University Twitter: @Macquarie_Uni

Lesley Hughes is a Distinguished Professor of Biology and Pro Vice-Chancellor (Research Integrity & Development) at Macquarie University. Her research has mainly focused on the impacts of climate change on species and ecosystems, and the impacts of climate change for conservation policy. She is a former Lead Author in the IPCC’s 4th and 5th Assessment Report, a former federal Climate Commissioner and now a Councillor with the publicly funded Climate Council of Australia. She is also a Director for WWF Australia, a member of the Wentworth Group of Concerned Scientists, the Director of the Biodiversity Node for the NSW Adaptation Hub and a member of the expert advisory committee for Future Earth Australia.


Dr Manu Saunders
Ecologist, Ecosystem services, University of New England
Twitter: @ManuSaunders

Dr Manu Saunders is an ecologist at the University of New England with a background in ecosystem services, natural resource management and science communication. Manu brings a unique lens to ecology, having a background in the humanities (English and communications).

She shares her research, stories and ideas through journal papers, regular articles for The Conversation and through her popular blog Ecology is not a dirty word, which shows the relevance of ecology to all of us. Manu is also the co-founder of Wild Pollinator Count, a citizen science project that aims to build a database of Australia’s wild pollinator insects. Drawn from her unique background in science and the humanities, Manu is dedicated to bringing the world of science to society.

Richard McLellan (Dinner Speaker)
CEO of Northern Agricultural Catchments Council NRM, Western Australia
Twitter: @RichardMcLellan

Richard McLellan is an ecologist and CEO of one of Australia’s 56 regional NRM organisations – the Northern Agricultural Catchments Council (NACC) – in mid-west WA. His current role within the NACC sees him collaborating with multiple partners to deliver stewardship outcomes, particularly in biodiversity conservation and sustainable agriculture. Richard has a strong background in sustainable development demonstrated through various Manager and Director positions with WWF Australia and WWF International. He has vast experience in community-based natural resource management and sustainable development. Richard is dedicated to understanding how humanity can develop in harmony with our planet, while meeting the challenges of changing climates.

Rosemary Bissett
Head of Sustainability Governance & Risk at the National Australia Bank
National Australia Bank Twitter: @NAB

Rosemary Bissett is Head of Sustainability Governance & Risk at the National Australia Bank. She has responsibility for coordinating the National’s environmental and climate change-related strategy and reporting and works across the Group to facilitate the integration of ESG (Environmental, Social & Governance) Risk into the NAB Group’s risk frameworks. Her work includes a key focus on climate change strategy, policy and response to emerging global climate change legislation, as well as supporting NAB’s emerging focus on natural value.

Previous to her time at NAB, Rosemary spent two years at the Sustainable Energy Authority Victoria, as Board Secretary and part of the Executive team. She also worked in the water industry for ten years in areas including sustainability strategy, environment, trade waste management, cleaner production, customer and community education.

Rosemary is currently on a number of not-for profit Boards, including the Board of the Moreland Energy Foundation, and is member of Latrobe University’s External Sustainability Advisory Board and the Victorian Government’s Industry Sustainability Working Committee.

Professor Sarah Bekessy
Professor of Sustainability and Urban Planning, RMIT University
Twitter: @sbekessy

Sarah Bekessy is Professor of Sustainability and Urban Planning at RMIT. Sarah is interested in the intersection between science and policy in environmental management, with a particular focus on interdisciplinary solutions for the conservation of biodiversity. Using her background in conservation biology and more recent experience in the social sciences, she has established a research team that seeks to engage in high impact, interdisciplinary and collaborative research to find solutions to applied environmental problems. Sarah’s research interests include: threatened species management, environmental decision analysis, urban ecology and the role of science in environmental policy.