• Contact Us
  • +61 (07) 3365 9097

Science Advisory Committee

The TERN Science Advisory Committee provides independent advice to the Board, relating to the longer-term national strategic goals on future research infrastructure requirements; ease of use and utility of TERN infrastructure; science issues raised by the Board and/or TERN facilities; and oversight of TERN quality assurance from a science perspective.

Such advice is provided in the context of:

  • promoting the scientific interactions and planning necessary to establish and maintain an appropriately stratified and representative national terrestrial ecosystem site and observational network to meet terrestrial ecosystem and resource management research needs in the longer term;
  • implementing and maintaining coordinated national observational networks to facilitate cooperation and operational experience;
  • facilitating improved access, by electronic means, to quality assured observational data by the terrestrial ecosystem and resource management community;
  • involving the terrestrial ecosystem research community in defining future needs; and
  • strengthening the technical and operational capability of the terrestrial ecosystem community and hence sustaining the terrestrial observing paradigm into the longer term.

You can read the Terms of Reference for the SAC here.



Members of the TERN Science Advisory Committee (L-R): Dr Helen Cleugh, Prof Jenny Davis, Dr Ross Wilkinson, Dr Ashley Sparrow, Dr Steve Morton (Chair), Dr Margaret Byrne (Deputy Chair), Prof Alex McBratney, Prof Adrienne Nicotra.


Dr Steve Morton (Chair)

Steve is an Honorary Fellow at Charles Darwin University.  He studied at the Universities of Melbourne, California, Irvine and Sydney.  He joined CSIRO in Alice Springs to work in the desert environment that has long been his focus.  Subsequently, from 2000 until 2011, he helped lead CSIRO as Chief of Division and Executive Team member.  In 2011 he returned to live in Alice Springs, from where he serves on a variety of boards and committees relating to environmental and natural resource management.


Dr Margaret Byrne (Deputy Chair)

Margaret Byrne is the Director of the Science and Conservation Division at the Western Australia Department of Parks and Wildlife.  Here, she is active in the interface between science and policy in biodiversity conservation and management. Margaret has a strong interest in effective leadership and management and sees the integration of good people management and strategic business development as critical to the achievement of corporate goals.  

Margaret is recognised as a leading biological scientist in Australia and has over 170 publications. She obtained a PhD from The University of Western Australia and was a Post Doctoral Fellow at CSIRO in Canberra before returning to Perth to develop and manage a conservation genetics program in the then Department of Conservation and Land Management. Her research has focused on plant genetic research to inform conservation strategies for rare and threatened plants as well as biodiversity conservation at landscape scales in relation to remnant viability, revegetation and adaptation to climate change. Her phylogeographic studies have provided a greater understanding of the evolutionary history of the biota, and its influence on current distributions, patterns of genetic diversity and location of refugia. Her current research interests are directed towards application of genomics in plant conservation and climate change adaptation strategies.


Dr Helen Cleugh

Dr Helen Cleugh is an atmospheric scientist with almost 30 years of experience combining research discovery, delivery and leadership. Her research expertise lies in quantifying the interactions between the land surface and the atmosphere, and their effects on weather, climate and hydrology; and water-use and carbon uptake.

She is currently a Chief Research Scientist in CSIRO (Oceans and Atmosphere), where she leads the Earth Systems and Climate Change Hub; a research consortium funded by the Australian government’s National Environmental Science Programme. The Hub’s goal is to ensure that decision-making in Australia is effectively informed by an understanding of Australia’s future climate. Prior to taking on this role as Hub leader, Dr Cleugh was a senior leader of climate and atmospheric research within CSIRO who, in collaboration with national research providers and funders, had responsibility for delivering the research needed for Australia to manage the challenges and opportunities of a changing and variable climate.


Prof Jenny Davis

Professor Jenny Davis is Head of the School of Environment at Charles Darwin University, Casuarina, Northern Territory. Jenny has a PhD and BSc (Hons) from the University of Tasmania, was a Queens Fellow in Marine Science at the University of Western Australia, and held academic positions at Murdoch University, Monash University and the University of Canberra before joining Charles Darwin University in early 2016. Jenny has published over 200 works, including books, peer-reviewed scientific papers and technical reports. Jenny is co-chair of INTECOL’s International Wetland Conferences Organising Committee and a member of the National Committee for Ecology, Evolution and Conservation and a past member of the WA Wetlands Coordinating Committee, the WA Conservation Commission and the Research Sub-Committees of ABRS. Jenny was awarded the Limnology Medal for freshwater research in 2006. She has undertaken projects on freshwater biodiversity and wetland conservation in all Australian states and Malaysia (Sarawak). Much of her research is devoted to understanding the critical processes that support the persistence and resilience of freshwater ecosystems.


Prof Alex McBratney

Alex McBratney holds BSc, PhD and DSc degrees in soil science from the University of Aberdeen in Scotland, and the DScAgr degree from the University of Sydney for research in precision agriculture. After completing his PhD work at Rothamsted Experimental Station in the UK, Alex spent seven years with CSIRO Division of Soils in Brisbane. Alex joined the University of Sydney in 1989 where he is currently Pro-Dean of the Faculty of Agriculture and Environment, Professor of Soil Science, and Head of the Department of Environmental Sciences. He is Chief Editor of the global soil science journal, Geoderma. He is heavily involved with the activities of the International Union of Soil Sciences and the global digital soil map project, GlobalSoilMap. Alex is a very experienced research supervisor who has successfully supervised 26 PhD students. He has published some 210 refereed scientific journal papers with an h-index of 44. He holds Discovery and Linkage grants from the Australian Research Council and several from the rural research and development corporations, most notably the Grains Research and Development Corporation.


Prof Adrienne Nicotra

Adrienne Nicotra is a professor at the Research School of Biology at ANU and convenor of the Ecology and Evolution postgraduate program. She completed a BA at Wellesley College and PhD at the University of Connecticut in the US. Upon completion of her PhD she moved to Australia and conducted post-doctoral research at Macquarie University and ANU. She took up her current position in 1999 and was awarded a Future Fellowship in 2010. Current research in the lab continues themes in reproductive ecology and evolutionary ecophysiology with a focus on the influence of phenotypic plasticity on plant response to climate change.


Dr Ashley Sparrow

Ashley studied at the University of Adelaide as a plant and soil ecologist specialising in South Australia’s “Mediterranean” sclerophyllous and desert ecosystems. His interests have subsequently expanded to more holistic aspects of ecosystem science and natural resource management, including both fundamental theory and participatory applied research. An eclectic range of project subject matter spans fire ecology and sustainable rangelands grazing in Australia, NZ and the western USA, management of Indigenous Protected Areas in Central Australia, biodiversity conservation in managed temperate forests in NZ, agricultural and economic development in sub-Saharan Africa, and soil ecosystem function in ice-free areas of Antarctica. He is currently seconded as the node leader for Biodiversity Processes and Threats at the WA Biodiversity Science Institute, having previously worked as a research scientist and academic at CSIRO Land and Water and its precursors (Perth and Alice Springs), the University of Nevada (Reno, USA) and the University of Canterbury (Christchurch, NZ).


Dr Ross Wilkinson

Dr Ross Wilkinson is the Executive Director of the Australian National Data Service (ANDS), a program funded by the Australian Government to develop research data infrastructure and enable more effective use of Australia's research data assets.

After completing a Ph.D. in mathematics at Monash University, Ross researched computer science at La Trobe University, RMIT and CSIRO. His research fields have included document retrieval effectiveness and technologies that support people to interact with their information environments. 

Ross has published over 90 research papers. He is a Council Member of the Research Data Alliance, an international initiative aiming to build the social and technical bridges that enable better sharing of data. His professional interests include document computing, text management, information retrieval, document standards, corporate memory and tailored information delivery.


Sign up for our monthly news bulletin:

Please send me the TERN e-Newsletter
I agree to the Privacy Policy
Please send me the TERN e-Newsletter
Please send me information about TERN events (e.g. Annual National Symposium)