Scientific Advisory Committee 

Scientific Advisory Committee members are appointed by the Wet Tropics Management Authority's Board.

Scientific Advisory Committee - 2023-2026
Photographer: WTMACommittee members advise the Wet Tropics Management Authority’s Board on scientific research that contributes to the protection, conservation and scientific developments relevant to the Wet Tropics of Queensland World Heritage Area.

The committee comprises of individuals with scientific expertise or knowledge relevant to the biophysical, bio-cultural, economic or sciences, including the nature-based tourism/recreation sciences. 

Pictured: the Scientific Advisory Committee for 2023–2026
Back: David Tng, Stewart Lockie, Tim Wong (Manger, Planning and Conservation), Carla Catterall, Nathan Waltham
Front: Steve Williams, Daniel Montesinos, Conrad Hoskin, Carly Starr, Mellissa Brown, Siobhan Singleton

2023–2026 Scientific Advisory Committee Members

Prof Stephen Williams
Photographer: WTMA

Professor Stephen Williams

Chair of the Scientific Advisory Committee 

Wet Tropics Management Authority Board Director  

Stephen (Steve) Williams is the Chair of the Scientific Advisory Committee and was the Professor of Global Change Biology in the College of Marine and Environmental Science, James Cook University, Australia. He is now doing consultancy work on the environment and adaptation to climate change.

Professor Williams’ research has focused on field-based ecology, understanding biodiversity, assessing the resilience of natural ecosystems to environmental change, and using this knowledge to maximise the positive benefits of conservation management and adaptation.

He was one of the first to identify global climate change as a severe threatening process to biodiversity in the tropics, especially in mountain ecosystems. In 2006, he started the Centre for Tropical Biodiversity and Climate Change at James Cook University and was the inaugural Director for the first six years. He was lead author of the Australian National Adaptation Research Plan for Natural Ecosystems and was the Director of the Australian Adaptation Network for Natural Ecosystems (marine, terrestrial, freshwater) within the National Climate Change Adaptation Research Facility. He has over 130 publications and, with more than 32,000 peer review citations, he is one of the most-cited global change biologists. 

Professor Williams was the founding Chair of the IUCN Climate Change and Biodiversity Specialist Group. His research has focused on Australian tropical rainforests, however he now has an emphasis on establishing an Asia-Pacific climate change research and monitoring network. His aim is to help foster international collaboration and information exchange to provide the resources needed by natural resource managers around the world to adapt to a changing climate.

Mellissa Brown - Scientific Advisory Committee 2023-2026Mellissa Brown

Mellissa Brown is the founder and Managing Director of 4 Elements Consulting, a specialised environmental consultancy based in Cairns and Darwin.

Mellissa’s expertise is in ecology, wildlife management and project management. She is known for undertaking specialist consultancy work for species recovery planning and significant species management for both government and private sectors. Mellissa has several board and advisory roles including the National Trust of Australia (QLD) and the North Queensland Chapter of the Environment Institute of Australia and New Zealand.

Prof Carla Catterall

Professor Emeritus Carla Catterall

Carla Catterall is Professor Emeritus in environmental sciences at Griffith University, Brisbane. Professor Catterall is an ecologist who has spent several decades investigating how plants and animals in the wild respond to environmental changes.

Much of her work during the past 20 years has been focused on gaining an improved understanding of ecological processes involved in rainforest restoration in Queensland's Wet Tropics, and the outcomes of different techniques. More generally, she works with colleagues and students to discover what approaches and actions could enable a diverse flora and fauna to persist within landscapes used by people. The findings have been communicated in about 200 publications, in both scientific journals and other formats for land managers and the wider community. 

Professor Catterall has taught many university courses in ecology and environmental management. She is a previous president of the Ecological Society of Australia, and she received the 2009 Serventy Medal for ornithological research.

Conrad Hoskin - Scientific Advisory Committee 2023-2026

Associate Professor Conrad Hoskin

Associate Professor Conrad Hoskin is a researcher in the College of Science and Engineering at James Cook University in Townsville. He has worked at the University of Queensland, the Australian National University and now JCU for a decade, as well as work with government, industry and community groups. 

Professor Hoskin’s work has included fieldwork in tropical rainforests the world over, but most has been conducted in the Wet Tropics where he has over 25 years’ experience. His research spans speciation and adaptation, biodiversity discovery (including naming 10 Wet Tropics frog and reptile species), biogeography, invasive species, climate change impacts, conservation genetics, and biodiversity surveys and monitoring. His research is increasingly on conservation of threatened species, with a focus being the mountain-top vertebrates of the Wet Tropics.

Professor Hoskin has over 100 publications and various awards for biodiversity research, including a Eureka Prize for species discovery and the 2022 Queensland Natural History Award. 

Conrad Hoskin - Scientific Advisory Committee 2023-2026

Distinguished Professor Stewart Lockie

Stewart Lockie is Distinguished Professor of Sociology and Director of the Cairns Institute at James Cook University. Professor Lockie is an environmental sociologist whose research addresses environmental governance and risk in a variety of contexts including climate change, biodiversity conservation, agriculture and food security, the greening of consumption practices, and the social impacts of resource development. 

He was Foundation Chair of the Cairns-Port Douglas Reef Hub and leads several projects focused on climate adaptation in both protected areas and agricultural landscapes across Tropical North Queensland. Recent publications include ‘Failure or Reform? Market-Based Policy Instruments for Sustainable Agriculture and Resource Management’, published in 2020 by Routledge, London. Professor Lockie was elected to Fellowship of the Academy of the Social Sciences in Australia in 2013.

Daniel Montesinos - Scientific Advisory Committee 2023-2026

Dr Daniel Montesinos

Dr Daniel Montesinos is a Senior Research Fellow at the Australian Tropical Herbarium in Cairns, Queensland, and is broadly interested in the evolutionary ecology of plants. 

His focus of research is on the rapid evolution of locally adapted traits of invasive species across broad biogeographical scales, with a special focus on reproduction, reproductive systems, and seed ecology.

Siobhan Singleton - Scientific Advisory Committee 2023-2026

Siobhan Singleton

Siobhan Singleton is a Yirrganydji Woman of the Wet Tropics coast between Cairns to Port Douglas. 

Siobhan spent her early years growing up in the Aboriginal Community of Yarrabah on Gunggandji Country and the homelands of Cairns. She learnt cultural protocols and values from a young age. Siobhan studied film as well as land and conservation management which gave her the qualifications to become a ranger for the Victorian and Queensland governments. 

She went on to become a ranger for the Yirrganydji Land and Sea Ranger program and progressed to the Cultural Fire Project Officer.

She then changed her focus and developed her writing skills to assist in documenting her Elders’ and knowledge-keepers’ stories and traditions regarding their living knowledge systems of land and sea Country as well as cultural values.

Siobhan is still an active storyteller and an ongoing student of cultural fire practice for the Far North region.

Dr Carly Starr - Scientific Advisory Committee 2023-2026

Dr Carly Starr

Dr Carly Starr is a Manager with Queensland Trust for Nature and has worked extensively across North Queensland for over a decade as an ecologist, consultant, conservation planner, and program manager for conservation organisations, government, NRM bodies, trusts, and consultancy companies.

She has extensive vertebrate fauna survey and monitoring experience specific to the Wet Tropics region. Her early career involved working for international conservation organisations across Asia, where she also carried out her PhD on slow loris ecology and illegal trade in Indochina.

Dr Starr also trains and deploys conservation detection dogs to locate threatened species in areas within and bordering the Wet Tropics and has a strong interest in improving detection in rare and cryptic species.

David Tng - Scientific Advisory Committee 2023–2026
Dr David Tng

Dr David Tng is the Director for School of Field Studies at Yungaburra, where he believes that to be able to take empowered actions and be good stewards of the resources and biodiversity of our planet, we must first nurture an appreciation for nature. 

His higher education was at the University of Tasmania. He then moved to North Queensland in 2010 to do his PhD research on the fascinating ecology of ecotone habitats of giant Eucalyptus trees and their relationship with fire-sensitive tropical rainforests and flammable savannas. 

After being awarded his doctorate in 2014, Dr Tng then spent a year doing 19th century naturalist-style work, collecting tropical plants within the Australian Wet Tropics World Heritage Area to build a field herbarium at the Daintree Rainforest Observatory, and setting up long term monitoring forest plots. Following this he conducted post-doctoral research at the James Cook University looking at how drought will impact Australia’s tropical rainforests at Cape Tribulation. Most recently he was a visiting Professor at the Federal University of Bahia, Salvador Brazil, where he did ethno-botanical research and taught plant ecology.

Nathan Waltham - Scientific Advisory Committee 2023-2026Associate Professor Nathan Waltham

Associate Professor Nathan Waltham is a Senior Lecture in the College of Science and Engineering, and Senior Principal Research Scientist in the Centre for Tropical Water and Aquatic Ecosystem Research (TropWATER), James Cook University, Australia. 

Professor Waltham’s research focuses on aquatic ecology, biodiversity, assessing the resilience of freshwater catchments, floodplains, estuaries, and nearshore coastal ecosystems to changes from climate and catchment disturbances. His focus is primarily on northern Australia, but also Papua New Guinea, North and South America, and South-East Asia. In 2020, he was awarded a Queensland Government/Smithsonian Research Fellowship where he visited Chesapeake Bay, Everglades and Alabama/Mississippi to learn about implementing large-scale coastal restoration.

Professor Waltham publishes widely on aquatic science, restoration ecology, hydrology, and ecosystem services including nature repair markets. He works extensively with natural resource management groups, non-governmental organisations, Indigenous land and sea rangers, government, industry, community and landholders to deliver science solutions for transformative change. He loves the outdoors and learning new things about nature. 

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