Making the most of data resources

The ‘Making the Most of Data Resources’ Key Direction of Foundations for the future is about getting the best value of our ecosystem science data resources by having essential data infrastructure operating for the long term to enable ongoing collection, building and use by ecosystem scientists. The ecosystem science community has called for the development of a strategy to start national conversations and actions about Australia’s ongoing investment in modern data infrastructure, its sustainable operation in the long term, consistent data publication policies and management and easy-to-use technologies for supporting them to create new science and catalyse decision-making about Australia’s developing environmental challenges.

Australia invests millions of public dollars in collecting scientific data on all aspects of Australia’s ecosystems covering terrestrial (plants, animals, soils), marine, freshwater, coastal and atmospheric systems. As environmental policy makers and managers increasingly rely on data-hungry scientific models and other tools to help them describe, map and report on ecosystem change to manage the well-being of Australia’s ecosystems, modern ecosystem science needs access to historical and current data more than ever.


Roadmap for activities

To ensure progress against this Key Direction, the Ecosystem Science Council has a roadmap to deliver a community-inspired national strategy:


Working Group

The first step for this Key Direction is to deliver a meta-review of ecosystem science data infrastructure that reports on the status of current infrastructure and new capabilities of infrastructure essential for ecosystem scientists. It will also make recommendations on information to carry forward into the strategy.

A new Data Resources Working Group will undertake the meta-review in consultation with the ecosystem science community. This review will build on the data feedback sessions of the earlier town halls, existing reviews (e.g. Independent Review of Australian Government Environmental Information Activity, the soon to be released National Research Infrastructure Review by Clarke) and other community sources to represent a cross­‐section of the data infrastructure services for the ecosystem science-‐related disciplines described in Foundations for the Future (page 5).

The Data Resources Working Group includes people working in a variety of roles within ecosystem science and management. The group was formed through an open Expression of Interest across August and September 2015. Read below to find out more about the Core Members of this group, and also additional Advisors for the group. You can also read the Terms of Reference for the Working Group here.


Core Members

Dr Elisabeth Bui
Environmental Scientist
CSIRO Land and Water

Elisabeth Bui is an environmental scientist who looks for and finds ways to make the most of existing data to understand landscape and ecosystem function, and manage Australian ecosystems sustainably into the future. She led the research that produced the first national maps of soil properties for the National Land and Water Resources Audit in 2001 and has worked ever since to show how they can be integrated with other national datasets such as the National Vegetation Information Survey, the Atlas of Living Australia, plant phylogenies, and the National Geochemical Survey of Australia to get insight into ecosystem functions such as carbon storage and biogeochemical cycling. Currently she leads a USGS-funded Powell Centre Working Group that brings together biologists and geoscientists to evaluate the evolution of stress tolerance and adaptation to extreme environments in plants, using public databases and a “big data” approach rather than laboratory experimentation.


David Crossman
Senior Software Engineer
AIMS Data Centre
Australian Institute of Marine Science

David is a senior software engineer for the Australian Institute of Marine Science (AIMS).  David’s main focus is on the design, implementation, and delivery of bespoke information systems with a strong emphasis on effective data management and delivery of AIMS science through publically accessible web systems. David has been an active participant of national and international initiatives for the past 10 years contributing to various working groups all with a focus on promoting data to the public.


Ms Claire deLacey
Research Data Specialist
TERN (LTERN), Fenner School
Australian National University

Claire currently works as a Research Data Specialist with TERN’s Long Term Ecological Research Network at the Fenner School of Environment & Society, College of Medicine, Biology & Environment, at The Australian National University. Her role primarily involves critically evaluating research data, interpreting statistical methods (such as sample design and sampling methods), and developing and managing relevant metadata. The position utilises a combination of fieldwork experience, a sound understanding of data and metadata, as well as a solid understanding of sampling design, the application of statistical research methods and the capacity to critically evaluate data from the biophysical and biological sciences to facilitate contemporary data publication methods. She is a Certified Environmental Practitioner (MEIANZ). Subsequent to her role in consulting, she worked for the Environmental Resource Information Network (ERIN), Commonwealth Department of the Environment.  In this role, Claire assisted several groups including the Water, Vegetation and Biodiversity Teams. Claire has also worked for the Bureau of Meteorology, on a collaboration tasked with developing prototype environmental accounts using spatial data.  Claire is an ecologist, and has an established technical background.


Dr Serryn Eagleson
Data, Business and Applications Manager
The University of Melbourne

Serryn is the Manager of Data, Business and Analytics at the Australian Urban Research Infrastructure Network (AURIN) at the University of Melbourne. Dr. Eagleson completed a PhD in Geographical Information Systems (GIS) and the design of administrative boundaries at the University of Melbourne in 2003. This research contributed to changing in the allocation of administrative boundaries across Australia and in recognition for her work Dr Eagleson was awarded a prestigious Victorian Fellowship. Dr Eagleson completed her post-doctoral research at Curtin University, Western Australia in applying spatial analysis to bio-surveillance for the automated detection of disease outbreaks.  In addition to academic qualifications Dr Eagleson has over 15 years of applied experience in spatial modelling and applying this expertise to inform urban planning for local and state governments, this work includes developing the spatial model of the Transforming Australian Cities project which was awarded the 2009 National Urban Design Award and as an invited Expert Witness for the Victorian Planning Panel. 


Dr Bradley Evans
Senior Lecturer (Big Environmental Data and Biosphere-Atmosphere Interactions)
Department of Environmental Sciences
The University of Sydney

Bradley is a Senior Lecturer in Big Environmental Data and Biosphere-Atmosphere Interactions, Department of Environmental Sciences and is experienced in regional climate modelling of land surface parameters and the use of terrestrial micro-meteorological observations and field spectroscopy. Bradley has statistically and spatially analysed (modelled and observed) observations of wind, soil moisture, temperature, humidity and precipitation. Bradley has used regional climate models down to a scale of 1km for over 100 years (hindcast) and developed post-processing systems to extract and perform GIS analysis on these data. Bradley has applied statistical decomposition analysis and other methods to detecting spatial and temporal correlations between disturbance events and time series data. Bradley has developed infrastructure for the acquisition, formatting and analysis of national (i.e. Australia and New Zealand) and global remote sensing and climatology datasets. Bradley contributes to a number of international open-source initiatives actively improving and sharing methodologies and tools for processing large scientific datasets.


Ms Thalie Partridge
Land Resource Information Officer
Central Land Council

Thalie’s role supports Aboriginal people across 776,569km2 of Aboriginal freehold land in Central Australia. I work with Aboriginal rangers to collect and utilise data on ecosystems and threatened species which supports planning and implementation of management activities. I work with staff to develop paper and digital data collection procedures (eg CyberTracker ™) and conduct a range of training activities to improve digital literacy. I am currently working on a data management plan and system development to improve our ability to utilise data as well as share it with scientists, government and funders. Previously I have worked with the NSW Office of Environment and Heritage, acting as the business user manager during the development of the NSW 'Saving our Species' database. I have worked as threatened species officer for Anangu Pitjantjatjara Yankunytjatjara Land Management (SA) and have a PhD in Biology, examining fire and biodiversity in the Kimberley region WA.


Dr Rebecca Pirzl
Team Leader
Atlas of Living Australia, CSIRO

Rebecca leads the ecological science and Indigenous ecological knowledge programs of the Atlas of Living Australia at CSIRO, where she coordinates cross-disciplinary teams working on digital transformation initiatives for biodiversity-related information. Collaboration with TERN Eco-Informatics to advance infrastructure for ecological science is a key component of this work. A further central element is investigating how national infrastructure for biodiversity information may support and reflect Indigenous knowledge and knowledge systems. Rebecca has also worked closely with museums and herbaria on infrastructure needs for collections-based research. As an ecologist with expertise in spatial ecology and habitat selection modelling, Rebecca has experience in collection and management of a variety of species and environment data, and has driven cooperative national and Australasian initiatives for sharing long-term data. She was previously managing director of a private sector firm conducting work at the science-management interface for major public and private sector funders, and has worked for the Australian Government in national and international wildlife policy, and protected area joint-management.


Professor Stuart Phinn
School of Geography, Planning and Environmental Management
University of Queensland

Ecosystem Science Council member


Dr Ben Roudnew
Essential Environmental Measures Programme
Environment Research and Information Network, Science Division
Department of the Environment

Ben works for the Commonwealth Department of the Environment, Essential Environmental Measures program. This program brings together experts to identify Measures for tracking change in the state of the environment nationwide. Measures are building blocks from which different types of analytical products, such as indicators, accounts, a wide variety of reports, and aggregated national datasets can be developed. Ben has a PhD in microbial hydrogeology, which involved utilising flow cytometry and metagenomics to investigate the abundance and diversity of bacterial and viral communities in groundwater systems.


Dr Peter Scarth
Senior Research Scientist at Remote Sensing Research Centre
School of Geography, Planning and Environmental Management
The University of Queensland

Peter works with a cross disciplinary team at the Joint Remote Sensing Research Centre (JRSRP) to develop rigorous data management systems and validated mathematical models that measure and map both major and more subtle changes in Australia's vegetation using large earth observation data sets and vegetation survey field data systems. By building demonstrated value on our collective ecosystem data and engaging with stakeholders across academia, government and industry we aim to maintain and extend our data holdings and build "long science" to address wicked problems in the land management space. Peter also works within TERN/Auscover to democratise management and access to spatial data and promote uptake of products by researchers, policy and the public. As an application developer he has a particular interest in delivering difficult to use data in a ways that tell compelling stories. 


Ms Tina Schroeder
Data Analyst (Ecology)
TERN Eco-informatics (School of Biological Sciences)
The University of Adelaide

Tina is an Ecologist and Data Analyst, currently working for TERN's Eco-informatics group. As part of this role, she models existing ecological data for publication in the AEKOS data-portal. This includes the review and development of the ecological ontology, data management of large dataset including the Q&A process and extensive methodological description of the data collection process. In addition, she has several years of experience in marine and terrestrial survey based data collection as part of research and citizen science projects as well as environmental management obligations (mining sector). She is particularly interested in improving the data collection, management and publication process for not - for profit and citizen science projects because many long-term ecological datasets remain unrecognised due to the lack of funds and appropriate data capture systems. In her spare time Tina loves to get out in the bush exploring, or volunteering for flora and fauna surveys, in particular across Australia’s arid zones. She is hoping to start a PhD research project involving arid ecosystems in the near future. Tina currently lives with her husband at Eurardy Reserve in Western Australia.


Dr Anita Smyth
TERN Eco-Informatics (School of Biological Sciences)
The University of Adelaide
Ecosystem Science Council member


Mr Jeff Tranter
Assistant Director of Environment Information Policy and Reporting Officer
Environmental Resources Information Network (ERIN)
Science Division, Australian Government Department of the Environment

Jeff manages the data infrastructure component of the Department of the Environment’s Essential Environmental Measures for Australia programme and recently prepared for the Department and the Australian Government Environmental Information Advisory Group a set of "National Principles for Environmental Information". He managed for a number of years a departmental database of some 35 million species observation records from across Australia and a team of modellers developing species distribution models for 1800 nationally threatened species. In the dim past he spent 12 years monitoring island populations of tropical seabirds and the impact on them of mining and harvesting.


Mr Gavin Winter
Manager of the Visualisation and eResearch
Institute for Future Environments
Queensland University of Technology

Gavin was the Project Manager for The Cube during its design, engineering, and implementation and maintains a key role in the strategic planning of The Cube and QUT’s on-going technology research and development initiatives. He has over 16 years industry experience and consults regularly to organisations and companies seeking to apply new technologies in management and operations and is a regular speaker at industry forums and trade events.  Gavin has extensive and varied experience in the design and implementation of technology projects, working in university, commercial research, telecommunications, resources, property, and computer entertainment sectors.


Dr Andre Zerger
Manager of Environmental Information Services
Bureau of Meteorology

Andre is Manager, Environmental Information Services within the Environment and Research Division in the Bureau of Meteorology. Working jointly with the Department of the Environment, Andre directs the National Plan for Environmental Information initiative and the National Environmental Information Infrastructure programme that together aim to improve discovery, access and re-use of nationally significant environmental data. These activities involve establishing strategic partnerships with national stakeholders including major players in the national environmental information space including commonwealth agencies, NCRIS facilities, NESP hubs and the research sector.  Prior to this Andre was a research scientist and team leader with CSIRO  Ecosystem Sciences. His research focussed on the development of novel environmental informatics solutions including sensor networks, spatial modelling and remote sensing for achieving improved natural resource management outcomes. 



Professor Jenny Davis
Ecosystem Science Council member
Water Science
Institute for Applied Ecology
University of Canberra


Dr Pauline Mele
Ecosystem Science Council member
Department of Economic Development (Agriculture, Energy and Resources Group)
AgriBio, Centre for AgriBioscience
La Trobe University


Mr Matt Miles
Principal Advisor – Environmental Information
Science, Monitoring and Knowledge Branch (Knowledge Management Unit) 
Department of Environment, Water and Natural Resources


Dr Tim Moltmann
IMOS Director
University of Tasmania


Dr Roger Proctor
Director, eMarine Information Infrastructure, Integrated Marine Observing System
University of Tasmania

Associate Professor Torsten Thomas
Ecosystem Science Council member
Future Fellow, School of Biotechnology and Biomolecular Sciences
Director, Centre for Marine Bio-Innovation
The University of New South Wales