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PEOPLEThe Tasmanian Independent Science Council is composed of scientists and professionals with decades of experience in environmental science, policy and communication.


Christine Coughanowr (co-chair)
Professor John Church OA
Dr Lisa-ann Gershwin
Eloise Carr
Professor Ben Richardson
Dr Edward Butler
Dr Melinda McHenry
Professor Ben Richardson is a scholar of environmental law at the University of Tasmania. His peripatetic career over the past 25 years has been spent mostly abroad in universities in Canada, the UK and New Zealand, but he eventually returned home to Australia in 2014. Ben's research interests include climate change law, corporate social responsibility and Aboriginal legal issues. His community engagement work includes serving in the Australian Panel of Experts of Environmental Law. 

Dr Lisa-ann Gershwin is one of the world’s foremost authorities on jellyfish. She has written two best-selling books, published over 70 peer-reviewed scientific papers and industry reports, given two TEDx talks, and discovered more than 200 new species. These days, she has broadened her interests to include the full range of impacts and mitigation in disturbed marine and terrestrial ecosystems. 



John Church is a Professor in the Climate Change Research Centre, University of NSW. His expertise is the role of the ocean in climate, particularly anthropogenic climate change, and in understanding global and regional sea-level rise. He was co-convening lead author for the Chapter on Sea Level in the IPCC Third and Fifth Assessment Reports. He was awarded the 2006 Roger Revelle Medal by the Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission, the 2006 CSIRO Medal for Research Achievement, the 2007 Eureka Prize for Scientific Research, the 2008 AMOS R.H. Clarke Lecture, the 2017 AMOS Morton Medal, was a joint winner of the 2019 BBVA Frontiers of Knowledge Climate Change Category Prize and was awarded an Australian Academy of Science Jaeger Medal in 2021. He is a Fellow of the Australian Academy of Science, the Australian Academy of Technology and Engineering, the American Meteorological Society, the Australian Meteorological and Oceanographic Society and the AGU.

Dr Melinda McHenry is an agroecologist and physical geographer with fifteen years experience working in the natural resource sector at all levels of government and in industry. Melinda’s work primarily focuses on the integration of native vegetation into production systems, but a lot of the time she invariably finds herself contributing to projects in soil management and restoration, riparian zone restoration, geoheritage conservation and environmental education and extension. Melinda is a passionate advocate for common sense and bipartisanship when attempting to solve multi-stakeholder problems.

Eloise Carr studied tropical marine biology on the Great Barrier Reef before moving to lutruwita/Tasmania. Her work on coastal and marine policy for State and Federal governments includes 7 years on the Australian delegation to the Commission for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources. Eloise has always sought to elevate the role of science in policy and to focus on evidence based decision making. Eloise is the Director of the Australia Institute Tasmania, a public policy think tank. She provides policy advice to the Science Council. 

Dr Edward Butler is a chemical oceanographer and environmental biogeochemist. His former career of more than 35 years as a government scientist has involved studies of coastal waters around lutruwita/Tasmania and the mainland, and oceans from the Equator to Antarctica. A recent seven-year stint in Darwin provided experience in tropical coastal ecosystems and working with Indigenous communities. Now, unencumbered as an independent researcher, Ed is looking more at the intersection of his knowledge of the environmental health of coastal and marine ecosystems with the development of environmental policy and ecosystem-based management.

Christine Coughanowr is an independent scientist with over 35 years’ experience in water quality management. She came to Tasmania 27 years ago, fell in love with the Derwent, and set up the award-winning Derwent Estuary Program partnership. She retired from the DEP in 2018 to pursue other interests, which include consulting and providing science advice to conservation and community groups. Christine has also worked internationally as a water resources consultant, and is a Churchill Fellow. She has degrees in geology (BSc Duke University) and estuarine geology (MSc University of Delaware).


Associate Members

Peter Boyer’s first career was in newspaper journalism. As a Commonwealth public servant he wrote about Antarctic science for many years before training as a climate change presenter. He writes a weekly column in the Hobart Mercury, mainly on the science, politics and impact of greenhouse warming.


Ipshita Pratap

Dr. Tony Koslow is a research oceanographer emeritus at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography, where he directed Scripps’ California Cooperative Oceanic Fisheries Investigations (CalCOFI) program, a multi-disciplinary ocean observation program initiated in 1949. Tony previously led the Deepwater Fisheries and Ecology project at CSIRO. His research interests include fisheries, deep ocean ecology and conservation, and human and climate influences on marine life. His book, The Silent Deep received the Victoria Premier’s Prize for Science Writing in 2007. In 2005 he received the Don McAllister Award for contributions to the conservation of seamount ecosystems. He was a finalist for the Sherman Eureka Prize in environmental research in 2007 and shared a Pew Fellowship in marine conservation from 2004-2007.

Dr Tony Koslow
Peter Boyer
Distinguished Professor Jamie Kirkpatrick AM
Dr Eric Woehler OAM

Dr Eric Woehler is a seabird and shorebird ecologist. He has been actively involved in research directed towards conservation and management of birds and their habitats for his entire life. Eric is actively engaged with community-based efforts to protect coastal birds, using analyses of long-term data sets to provide evidence-based, data-driven guidance and advice to land managers. He convenes BirdLife Tasmania and is the Co-convenor of the Australian Coastal Society Tasmania.

Ipshita Pratap is the secretary and public officer for the Tasmanian Independent Science Council. She has a Bachelor of Science (majoring in Molecular Bioscience) from the University of Tasmania. Ipshita is currently an Anne Kantor Fellow at the Australia Institute Tasmania. 

The Tasmanian Independent Science Council welcomes membership expressions of interest from independent scientists, relevant professionals, policy and legal experts, and science communicators. Individuals are invited to send a CV and cover letter expressing their motivations for joining the Tasmanian Independent Science Council to


Membership Enquiries

Dr Jennifer Sanger has a PhD in forest ecology and has studied forests in lutruwita/Tasmania, tropical Australia and overseas. She is the co-founder and coordinator of the The Tree Projects, an environmental outreach organisation that uses photography, video and digital storytelling to help educate people about trees and the environment. She is a passionate advocate for forest conservation and climate change action. 

Dr Graeme Wells
Former Chairs
Dr Jennifer Sanger 

Dr Graeme Wells is an independent economist, having previously had an academic career in New Zealand, North America and, more recently, an Associate Professor at ANU and UTAS. Since returning to lutruwita/Tasmania he has been a consultant and adviser to a range of environmental organisations and government agencies.

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