Core Team

Dr Adam Smith

Founder and Managing Director

Dr Adam Smith is a dedicated scientist, manager and leader who has a lifelong commitment to the marine environment and a vision to make a positive difference for current and future generations. Adam is Managing Director of Reef Ecologic and Adjunct Associate Professor with James Cook University. Adam has almost 30 years’ experience and has initiated, collaborated and delivered many innovative and important ecological and social projects involving tourism, fisheries, ports, Defence and research in the Great Barrier Reef, Pacific and the world. He is a people person and is recognised for empowering teams and delivering excellent outcomes. Adam has a BSc (Hons), PhD and MBA and has authored over 50 Scientific papers and books.

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Jo Stacey

Project Officer/ Sustainability Champion

Jo is an associate of Reef Ecologic and has assisted with the Whitsunday Public Art and the Reef Restoration Project and International Coral Reef Management and Leadership Course. She is passionate about sustainability and the interface between art, science and community. Her previous role of arts administrator at  Perc Tucker (Townsville) Regional Art Gallery spanned 10 years, she was part of a small dynamic team with a busy exhibition and public program schedule across 2 galleries.  Arts administration encompassed finance, the volunteer program, gallery membership, and all administrative support for the exhibitions and public programs.


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Al Songcuan

Environmental Research Scientist/ GIS Specialist

Al is a marine biologist from the Philippines with extensive experience in fisheries, climate change, habitat and vulnerability assessment, marine ecology, and environmental management. He has a Master of Science degree in Marine Science from James Cook University. He has skills in the applications of geospatial information using GIS and remote sensing in the coastal and marine environment. He has worked on different local and international Reef Ecologic projects such as impact assessment on corals in Mozambique, database development for the coastal and marine strategy of Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, reef restoration, citizen science and reef surveys. He is very passionate in using his knowledge and skills to help manage the marine environment and save the reefs for future generation.

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Affiliated Associates and Scientists

Professor Iain Gordon

Professor Iain Gordon holds honorary appointments with the Fenner School of Environment and Society at the Australian National University, Central Queensland University, the James Hutton Institute and CSIRO. He was recently the Deputy Vice Chancellor at James Cook University. Iain worked for CSIRO from 2003 – 2010, where he led the Water for a Healthy Country GBR node on grazing land management and worked with a wide range of stakeholders to deliver innovative solutions in support of improved water quality flowing from the catchments into the lagoon of the Great Barrier Reef. Iain has a passion and commitment for leadership, sustainable regional development and harnessing the tropics’ enormous potential through education and research.

Nathan Cook

Nathan is an applied scientist and specialist in coral reef restoration and capacity building with 20 years experience working in the Pacific and Southeast Asia. Nathan has been a passionate advocate for sustainability and stewardship, working with communities, tourism businesses and governments to activate and sustain meaningful on-ground actions to build and support the resilience of coral reefs. He has developed local-specific marine monitoring and assessment programs and establishing innovative coral reef restoration programs in several key locations around the world. His decades of practical experience is underpinned by a Masters in Marine Science. He has authored and co-authored several technical reports and peer review publications.

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Jo Johnson

Johanna Johnson is a Partner and Senior Scientist at C2O Consulting and has 25 years’ experience in marine research and management in the Asia-Pacific region. She specialises in climate change vulnerability and adaptation, community-based conservation, marine monitoring, science synthesis and providing decision-support for management and conservation. Johanna is also a Director of the C2O Pacific division based out of Vanuatu that focuses on sustainable marine ecosystems in the Pacific region.

Gemma Molinaro

Gemma Molinaro is a marine scientist with an MSc from James Cook University and background in diving and underwater photography. She has worked as on a number of projects as an associate of Reef Ecologic including assisting with reef restoration, reef health surveys and community engagement activities. Gemma has led marine surveys on the Great Barrier Reef for a number of years as the project coordinator for Reef Check and also focused on community engagement and involvement in marine conservation education. Gemma is passionate about reef conservation and learning new ways to make positive impacts on people and environment.

Katie Frisch

Katie Frisch is a social marketing specialist with a passion for using behavioural change tools and creative communication approaches to protect coral reefs. She has worked for world leading organizations such as Rare, the Nature Conservancy, the Pacific Islands Climate Change Cooperative, the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority and the Australian Institute of Marine Science.  Katie has translated cutting edge climate science for residents of Hawaii, helped Australian schools take action to protect the Great Barrier Reef, and supported rural landholders in adopting “reef friendly” practices. She developed some of the first available student resources on the impacts of climate change on coral reefs.

Jon Day

Jon has 39 years professional experience as a marine and terrestrial park planner, park manager and ranger (including 28 years in Great Barrier Reef; 4 years in Kakadu NP). Jon worked as a Director at the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority for 16 years; major highlights included his leadership roles in the Great Barrier Reef’s rezoning and in World Heritage matters. During his career, Jon developed a variety of marine and terrestrial park policies. He is currently undertaking a post-career PhD at ARC Centre for Coral Reef Studies at James Cook University. Jon has 70+ peer-reviewed publications, including author of 12 book chapters.

Richard Woodgett

Woody Spark is a visual storyteller, with over 10 years experience working in, on or under the ocean. Woody works in both video and photography, specializing in capturing the beauty and intricacies of the underwater environment. He is dedicated to producing educational and engaging content about all things marine science. He has worked alongside James Cook University, the University of New South Wales and WWF Australia producing science communication stories. He is very passionate about sharing not only the hard work people put into protecting the big blue but also their story and what drives them to help work towards a better planet.

Artie Jacobson

Arthur Jacobson is an experienced international professional with broad skills and proven ability to lead teams to consistently deliver high outcomes in complex cross-cultural environments. Specific knowledge and involvement of community-driven program implementation and, importantly the interpersonal skills and tenacity to develop collaborative stakeholder engagement and an enabling operational environment. Key areas of expertise include, ‘Special’ Area Management – Marine, Terrestrial and Coastal with an emphasis on program planning and operations/project delivery; Natural resource assessment and High-level cultural competency through extensive association with Australian Aboriginal communities and the Koiari/Biage people of Papua New Guinea.

Andrew Simmonds

Andrew first started understanding the Great Barrier Reef through his work, in 1991. As a vessel master, environmental scientist and planner, he has 15 years experience in marine operations and protected area management in the Great Barrier Reef and Torres Strait. Through his commitment and passion Andrew has been able to bring people together to create progressive outcomes not only for reefs but the communities which rely on them. It has been his experience designing and leading marine conservation programs where he has come to recognise the importance of people and relationships in achieving any desired outcome. Andrew has authored numerous science-based and technical, statutory documents for government.

Terry Harper

Terry Harper has more than 25 years experience managing protected areas including the Great Barrier Reef. As Director of TerraFormDesign, Terry brings his expertise and passion to build capacity of managers to deliver the best outcomes for coral reefs, and the people who depend upon them. He recognises that effective management depends on people and relationships, and brings out the best in people for lasting mutual benefit.

Rachelle Brown

Matthew Wilkie is a marine scientist with an MSc from James Cook University and background in fisheries science, aquaculture and marine biology. Matt is a former intern with Reef Ecologic, having finished the program in 2022. Since completion of his studies he has remained an associate with Reef Ecologic conducting environmental and impact assessments, reef restoration, reef health surveys and many more. Matt is a passionate citizen scientist and enjoys photographing life below water and uploading to iNaturalist. One of his proudest highlights was getting to feature on a local television news story discussing Reef Blitz. Another memorable experience was joining Rachelle Brown and giving a lecture at James Cook University to a class of students studying a Masters of Marine Biology.

Julia Saper

Julia Saper is a Marine biologist from California with an MPhil from James Cook University specialising in coral science. Her master’s research at the Australian Institute of Marine Science aimed to resolve nutritional bottlenecks of captive corals through improved feeding regimes which could help upscale ex-situ coral restoration approaches.  Julia has expertise in boating as a Coxswain and diving operations as a PADI SCUBA instructor. She has experience in coral reef monitoring, coral propagation, and husbandry through her graduate research, the Coral Restoration Foundation in Florida and the Reef HQ aquarium in Townsville. She has a strong interest in management, citizen science and community outreach sparked by her active involvement with Reef Check Australia. Her strengths include her rigorous research background, technical skills in both laboratory and field environments and ability to connect with diverse stakeholders through planning and executing hands-on conservation experiences. 

Rachelle Brown

Rachelle is a conservationist from the United States with a strong background in ecological restoration. She studied a Master of Science in Tropical Biology and Conservation at James Cook University and developed a strong knowledge base and skill set through her work in protected areas within the United States, Panama, Indonesia, Costa Rica and the Galápagos Islands in Ecuador. Rachelle‘s strengths lie in effective communication to diverse audiences, field research and monitoring techniques, biological illustration, geographic information systems (GIS) and creating project-based reports such as restoration plans and impact assessments. Her passion is in assisting ecosystems and threatened species in recovering from the many modern-day threats they face. She is pleased to work with Reef Ecologic to help protect the natural beauty of Queensland and abroad.