Soil CRC has a board of nine directors, one of whom acts as Chair. There are five independent and four non-independent directors. There are four committees that govern Research, Risk, Nominations and Remuneration. The CEO reports to the Board on the management of the Soil CRC. The CEO has a team that reports to him to operate the Soil CRC.
The Honourable Penelope Wensley AC
The Honourable Penelope Wensley AC commenced as Patron of the Soil CRC in March 2021, following her appointment as the National Soils Advocate in August 2020. In addition to her knowledge of the environment and environmental policy, Ms Wensley has substantial expertise in public policy development, strategy development and implementation, communication and negotiation, and community and stakeholder engagement.
Ms Wensley was Governor of Queensland from 2008 to 2014. In this role she was active in promoting environmental knowledge and awareness and was a strong supporter of community groups and organisations involved with environmental management, conservation and protection, including as State Patron of Queensland Water and Land Carers.
She has worked to promote excellence in science, and the importance of scientific research and knowledge as a basis for good public policy, with a particular interest in agriculture and marine science. Alongside her role as Patron of the Soil CRC, she is also Patron of both Soil Science Australia and the Australian Organics Recycling Association (AORA) and she is Chairman of the Reef 2050 Plan Advisory Committee.
The Soil CRC is governed by a skills-based Board of Directors with an independent Chair and a majority of independent members. The Board provides oversight of the Soil CRC activities, performance and strategic direction.
Dr Paul Greenfield AO FTSE
Dr Paul Greenfield is a chemical engineer who worked at the University of Queensland holding senior roles including Vice-Chancellor (2008-2011), Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Research), Senior Deputy Vice-Chancellor and Provost.
Dr Greenfield has extensive experience as a Board Director on company and CRC boards. He has worked widely with industry on projects spanning the biotechnology, water and energy sectors.
Dr Greenfield is a Fellow of the Australian Academy of Technology and Engineering, and the Institution of Chemical Engineers, UK and an Honorary Fellow of the Institution of Engineers, Australia.
Dr Greenfield is Chair of the International Water Centre and is on the Board of the Great Barrier Reef Foundation.
Professor Andrea Bishop
Professor Andrea Bishop is the Pro Vice Chancellor Research at Griffith University, focussed on fostering and enabling exceptional research from ideas to impact. She holds a PhD in Physical Chemistry as well as postgraduate qualifications in education and business and has been awarded for her contributions in education practice, development and delivery.
She is an accomplished researcher who has held a range of senior leadership and governance positions. Previous appointments include as Director of Research for Charles Sturt University, where she supported a significant uplift in the research profile and achievements of the University. Through these roles she has gained significant experience in strategic planning and implementation, risk and resource management, research capacity building, and alignment of all these elements to facilitate research outcomes.
Andrea is a graduate member of the AICD and experienced board and board committee member. She was elected to the Soil CRC Board in 2019 and is currently a Non-Executive Director and Deputy Chair of Co-operative Research Australia.
Professor Michael Friend
Professor Michael Friend is the Pro Vice Chancellor (Research and Innovation) at Charles Sturt University, where he is focused on supporting the growth of the university’s research capabilities and oversighting governance of research and research training. Michael holds a PhD in Agricultural Science, has postgraduate qualifications in education and is a graduate of the Australian Institute of Company Directors.
Michael is a highly experienced researcher and research leader, who has extensive international experience, having undertaken research in the UK and USA, and collaborated with researchers and educators from across the globe. His prior research leadership roles include Program Leadership in the Future Farm Industries CRC, Director of the Graham Centre for Agricultural Innovation, and Acting Deputy Vice Chancellor (Research). Michael has over 100 refereed publications and has supervised more than 15 PhD and MPhil students to completion and he has attracted more than $14m in external grant funding as Principal Investigator.
Michael is Director of the Southern NSW Drought Resilience Hub and contributes to several research network advisory boards.
Ralph Hardy is a director and senior manager with extensive finance, commercial, and systems experience in the manufacturing and service industries. He has held senior roles with private companies which included leading multinational finance teams, providing the strategic direction, risk management, finance policies and governance framework to all companies in the business.
His experience has included being responsible for provision of consolidated financial and management accounting support and reports, multinational shared service centres, treasury, finance funding, tax compliance, statutory compliance and mergers and acquisitions, together with financial management and advice to all levels of management.
Ralph has strong financial management experience in number of jurisdictions in Australia, Asia, Africa and Europe. Ralph is a member of the AICD and has experience with multiple boards. Ralph is a board member of The University of Newcastle Research Associates.
Kate Lorimer-Ward has high level strategic planning and corporate governance skills and has been responsible for managing small and large programs, including RD&E units. She is a senior executive in the NSW public service, with the NSW Department of Primary Industries.
She has extensive knowledge of agriculture and agricultural communities from her roles in the NSW public sector over the past 25 years, has held positions on Boards and inter-jurisdictional committees, and is a member of the Australian Institute of Company Directors.
Kate has a Bachelor of Arts majoring in soils and social geography, an Executive Masters in Public Administration and a Post Graduate Certificate in Climate Change for Primary Industries.
Dr David Minkey
Dr David Minkey is the executive director of Western Australian no tillage farmers association (WANTFA), a role he has held for the past 13 years. He provides strong connection between researchers and growers, managing and leading many applied projects. He understands the importance of adoption for the success of farmer driven research.
David has over 30 years’ experience in agricultural research development and extension. He worked with the Department of Agriculture and Food (now DPIRD) for 20 years and the Australian Herbicide resistance Initiative (AHRI) for six years. David has a degree in Agricultural Science and PhD in weed seed ecology from University of Western Australia.
Robbie Sefton AM
Robbie Sefton is the Managing Director of Seftons, a strategic communication company, and a farmer of wool, meat and grains. Robbie’s strategic communication skills include issues management, corporate social responsibility, stakeholder analysis and engagement, media relations, community consultation, brand identity, leadership, and special interest/advisory group expertise.
Robbie is also a board member of the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority, headspace and Watertrust Australia. She recently retired as Deputy Chair of the National Australia Day Council, and has sat on advisory panels for the Australian Taxation Office, the Reserve Bank of Australia and Woolworths.
Dr Simon Speirs
Dr Simon Speirs is a soil scientist and R&D professional with over 20 years of experience across Australian agriculture. He has extensive experience in Australian agricultural industries and strong business innovation capabilities, strategic planning and business execution.
Simon is the General Manager – Product Development at New Edge Microbials, a growth business serving global agriculture through proven biological products. He has experience in agtech, start-ups and R&D consulting. Simon previously led large investments in crop nutrition by the Australian grains industry.
Simon has a PhD in soil science from the University of Sydney and an executive MBA from the Australian Graduate School of Management. He is also a Graduate of the Australian Institute of Company Directors course.
Professor Roger Swift FTSE
Professor Roger Swift is Emeritus Professor of Soil Science at the University of Queensland, where he was previously Executive Dean of the Faculty of Natural Resources, Agriculture and Veterinary Science. He has held a number of academic and research positions in soil science and agriculture at leading institutions in the UK, Australia and New Zealand and was Chief of the CSIRO Division of Soils and Chief Research Scientist (1993-2000).
Professor Swift is a world-renowned, extensively-published soil scientist whose major research interests lie in the area of soil chemistry. He is a Fellow of the Australian Academy of Technology and Engineering (FTSE) and the Royal Society of Chemistry (FRSC) and is a long-serving member of the International Union of Soil Science (1990-94 and 2006-18).
The management of the Soil CRC is led by a Chief Executive Officer, supported by a small operational and administrative team.
Dr Michael Crawford
Chief Executive Officer
Dr Michael Crawford has over 25 years’ experience in extension, research and science management in areas related to soil science, farming systems and natural resource management. Michael has an Honours Degree in agricultural science from the University of Melbourne, a PhD in soil science from the University of Adelaide, undertaken through the former CRC for Soil and Land Management, and an Executive Masters in Public Administration from the University of Melbourne and the Australia and New Zealand School of Government.
He has operated at senior levels of government and research management, he has worked with grower groups and farming communities, and he has strong relationships with relevant industry stakeholders, universities and government departments. He commenced as the inaugural CEO of the CRC for High Performance Soils in September 2017.
Chief Financial Officer
As a Chartered Accountant who specialises in technology with start-ups and rapid-growth companies, Mark brings a wealth of commercial experience to the organisation. Most recently Mark was the Finance Director for Civica, a software company delivering local government solutions. Mark is responsible for the financial oversight of the Soil CRC.
Mark grew up on a farm, so is interested to see how scientists can help farmers increase productivity sustainably in this vast country of ours.
Dr Rhona Hammond
Intellectual Property Officer
Rhona is an Australian Registered Trade Mark Attorney. She worked for fourteen years as the in-house intellectual property administrator for the former BHP Wire business, more recently known as OneSteel or InfraBuild, where she managed a portfolio of 600 trademarks, 300 internet domains and 80 business names.
Rhona is passionate about the appropriate and effective use of intellectual property. She wants to help creators to be acknowledged and rewarded
Originally from Scotland, Rhona studied Classics and English at Oxford University (Somerville ‘91) and then joined P&O Containers as a graduate trainee. She wasn’t ready to abandon the academic life so she wrote her PhD on Caribbean poetry (2001) part-time through the Open University while working full-time. Rhona has lived in Belgium, Sweden and South Africa but has called Newcastle, NSW, home since 2007.
Soil Knowledge Broker
Felicity has 30 years’ experience in agricultural extension practice across all industries and states, working with landholder groups, the University of New England, Bendigo TAFE and the North Central CMA in Victoria.
In her previous role with Soil Science Australia, she developed and delivered soil science training in collaboration with members, the National Soil Science extension team and regional soil coordinators.
An experienced facilitator, Felicity established, managed, and facilitated three soil community of practice groups for Soil CRC’s Building Landcare Capacity project. She also assisted the Birchip Cropping Demonstration Sites (now Birchip Cropping Group) develop into a leading farmer-led agricultural research and extension organisation.
Based in Bendigo, Felicity is enthusiastic about working towards developing and maintaining prosperous and sustainable rural regions. As Knowledge Broker, she plays a key bridging role between the CRC’s research scientists and our grower group members.
Olivia has wealth of communications knowledge and experience from over 20 years working in the industry, predominantly for government, not-for-profit organisations, consultancy and the research sector.
Her previous experience includes four years with the CRC for Irrigation Futures, managing their communications and marketing activities to help promote and celebrate their work.
Olivia is responsible for delivering the Soil CRC’s communications and engagement strategy, which includes managing our publications, website, social media and brand identity, and engagement with our partners and stakeholders.
Olivia is a passionate communicator who believes in genuine community and stakeholder engagement. She is excited to be working in a collaborative and innovative organisation that is delivering tangible benefits for our farmers while prioritising long-term sustainability.
Chief Operating Officer
Jodi is a qualified scientist, manager and teacher, with over 25 years’ experience in the coordination and management of various scientific programs within the Australian agricultural industry, holding positions across industry, government and higher education sectors.
Jodi is responsible for the effective administration of the business, overseeing the project management, governance and operational functions of the Soil CRC.
From a seventh generation farming family in North-Western NSW, Jodi is passionate about Australian agriculture. She believes working towards improving sustainability and productivity will not only help her family, but other farming families to stay on their land.
Sandy has extensive experience working in accounting and finance across the government and private sectors. She started her finance career with the Commonwealth Director of Public Prosecutions and went on to work for a number of other Australian Government agencies before entering the private sector.
Sandy spent 18 years working in the aged care sector as a finance supervisor and assistant accountant, where she honed her bookkeeping, reporting and finance administration skills.
In 2022, Sandy moved from Sydney to Newcastle and joined the Soil CRC team to support our Chief Financial Officer with all things finance.
Outside of work, Sandy is a classically trained ballet dancer with a love of dance that started when she was just four years old. She also loves playing ball sports, from tennis to soccer and everything in between.
Executive Assistant to CEO
Kathy has extensive experience working with executives in the Hunter Region in the public, education and private sectors. Kathy is a wealth of knowledge having been involved with the Soil CRC from inception in both the bid and establishment phases. Kathy provides administrative support to the CEO.
Kathy is passionate about people, the environment and the world in which we live and is proud to be a part of the Soil CRC – an innovative, collaborative organisation that is making a difference.
Dr Cassandra Wardle
PhD Program Manager
Cassandra has ten years of research experience in conservation and social sciences, over five years’ experience in higher degree research training and policy, and a life-long passion for science communication and information sharing.
Alongside her own PhD, which she completed in late 2019, Cassandra has worked to enhance the experience of HDR students including two years as the elected HDR student representative on her university’s Board of Graduate Research, and most recently as the Project Coordinator for a consortium of graduate research schools from eight Queensland universities.
Cassandra works closely with our PhD students and is responsible for the education and training activities of the Soil CRC PhD student cohort.
Childhood visits to her grandparents’ farms taught Cassandra just how tough the farming life can be, so she’s excited to be supporting our researchers in their efforts to improve soil management, health and productivity.
Dr Lucy Weaver
Research Administration Officer
Lucy has 15 years’ experience in scientific research and research management. She holds a PhD in organic chemistry from the University of Queensland and she completed a 3-year postdoctoral fellowship at CSIRO.
Lucy’s passion for science and research management led her to research development and project management roles within the higher education and government sectors. She now works closely with the CRC’s program leaders and researchers to administer projects, agreements, variations, and reporting.
Lucy is a talented science communicator who enjoys collaborating with others. With a keen interest in both industry-led research and sustainability, she is excited to support the Soil CRC in achieving practical, real-world research outputs.
Our four Program Leaders set and implement the research direction of the Soil CRC.
Professor Catherine Allan
Charles Sturt University
Catherine Allan is Professor of Environmental Sociology and Planning at the Albury campus of Charles Sturt University (CSU). She held a variety of agency rural land management extension roles in Victoria and South Australia before becoming an academic in 2001. Catherine’s research explores regional scale adaptive management of ‘natural resources’. As an experienced community facilitator, Catherine has particular interests in social learning and systems thinking to support sustainable relationships among human and biophysical elements. As well as research and supervision, Catherine has been the Presiding Officer of the CSU Human Research Ethics Committee since 2014, and was Associate Director of the Institute for Land Water and Society from 2014 to 2017.
Associate Professor Richard Doyle
University of Tasmania
Associate Professor Richard Doyle’s career includes over 23 years’ experience in tertiary education with undergraduate teaching, PhD, Masters and Honours project supervision. He has worked in many areas of soil and earth sciences, natural resource assessment and management, industry innovation and more recently, global food security. Alongside this, he has also worked in forestry, construction and mining for both government and industry organisations. Associate Professor Doyle has undergraduate and postgraduate degrees in Geology and Physical Geography from Victoria University of Wellington and a PhD in Soil Science from the University of Tasmania.
Associate Professor Doyle has held multiple leadership roles including Head of the School of Agricultural Science and President of Soil Science Australia. He has operated as a project leader for major research projects relating to soil science. He has supervised over 18 research higher degrees (PhD/Masters) and more than 30 honours research projects. Associate Professor Doyle has won multiple teaching, academic and community service awards.
Professor Megh Mallavarapu
University of Newcastle
Megh is Professor of Environmental Biotechnology at the Global Centre for Environmental Remediation at the University of Newcastle, a position he has held since 2015. With over 25 years of research experience, he is an innovative researcher with an in-depth knowledge of pollutant-microbe interactions in soil and bioremediation as reflected by his numerous publications.
Megh is one of the few scientists working in the important area soil algae research. He demonstrated the role of soil algae and cyanobacteria in the degradation and detoxification of several contaminants.
Megh’s current research interests include the development of bioremediation and ecological risk assessment of both organic and inorganic contaminants with special reference to mix contamination, determination of fate and behaviour of both organic and inorganic pollutants including their bioavailability and toxicity in the environment.
Dr Lukas Van Zwieten
NSW Department of Primary Industries
Dr Lukas Van Zwieten completed his PhD in Agricultural Chemistry and Soil Science at the University of Sydney in 1995. He is a Senior Principal Research Scientist with the NSW Department of Primary Industries and an Adjunct Professor at Southern Cross University. His postgraduate supervision and research interests include carbon and nutrient cycling, soil function, ecotoxicology and impacts of agricultural chemicals, management practices and climate change on soil resilience. Lukas was awarded the 2016 NSW Premiers Award for Public Sector Science and Engineering, is a Churchill Fellow and a Member of Soil Science Australia. His research has been popularised through Landline (1999), ABC’s Catalyst program (2007), a CNN “special report” in 2008, ABC’s Landline (2009) and Discovery Channel’s “Ecopolis” mini-series in 2009/10. He has published more than 100 book chapters and journal papers and has several highly cited works.