2019 Annual Report

Our Centre Advisory Board oversees the Centre’s overall strategic direction.

The Board provides independent scientific expertise and advice regarding the Centre’s Research Program and engagement with industry, government and the general public.

Its membership comprises an independent Chair and up to six members representing academia and industry with expertise in the relevant science and with a track record in technology commercialisation.

Professor Alex Zelinsky AO (Chair)

Professor Zelinsky is the Chair of the Centre’s Advisory Board, and Vice-Chancellor and President of The University of Newcastle.

Prior to joining the University, he was Australia’s Chief Defence Scientist and head of the Defence Science and Technology (DST) Group. Before joining Defence, Professor Zelinsky was Group Executive for Information Sciences at the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO) and Director of CSIRO’s Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) Centre. He was Chief Executive Officer and co-founder of Seeing Machines, a high-technology company developing computer vision systems. The company is listed on the London Stock Exchange and was a start-up from the Australian National University in Canberra, Australia, where Professor Zelinsky was Professor of Systems Engineering. Previously he researched robotics and computer vision at the AIST Electro-technical Laboratory in Japan and has taught and conducted research in computer science at the University of Wollongong. Professor Zelinsky has extensive experience in advising Federal and State governments in Australia, including as a member of the Australian Government’s Defence Industry Innovation Board. He is a Fellow of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers, the Australian Academy of Technological Sciences, Engineers Australia, and the Australian Institute of Company Directors. He received the Engineers Australia M A Sargent Medal 2015 – the most prestigious award made by the College of Electrical Engineers and in 2013 he was awarded the prestigious Pearcey Medal, the ICT industry’s premier prize for lifetime achievement.

Professor Zelinsky was appointed an Officer in the Order of Australia (AO) in the 2017 Queen’s Birthday Honours “for distinguished service to defence science and technology, to systems engineering, and to education as an academic and researcher”.

Kylie Ahern

Ms Ahern is an award-winning science publisher and entrepreneur with experience that spans media, telecommunications, science and education. In 2004 she co-founded Cosmos Media and launched Australia’s top-selling science magazine, Cosmos. The company was recognised through 54 awards and commendations for the high quality of its publications, websites, science outreach programs, publishing and journalism. Ms Ahern created educational products – teachers’ notes, study guides, posters, career guides – to which 70 per cent of Australia’s high schools and hundreds of overseas subscribed to reach more than 130,000 students. She transitioned the business from print to multiple media platforms, with Apple naming it among its ‘Best of 2012’ app launches.

Since selling Cosmos Media in 2013, she has been consulting for various organisations. She helped set up the Nature Publishing Group in Australia, conceived of the Queensland Brain Institute’s Brain series and, in 2016, founded STEM Matters, a strategy, communications and content agency. Clients include Westpac, the Federal Government and universities and research institutes across Australia.

Dr Henrik I. Christensen

Dr Christensen is a Professor of Computer Science at Dept. of Computer Science and Engineering UC San Diego. He is also the director of the Institute for Contextual Robotics. Dr Christensen conducts research on systems integration, human-robot interaction, mapping and robot vision. The research is performed within the Cognitive Robotics Laboratory. He has published more than 350 contributions across AI, robotics and vision. His research has a strong emphasis on ‘real problems with real solutions’.

He is actively engaged in the setup and coordination of robotics research in the US (and worldwide). Dr Christensen received the Engelberger Award 2011, the highest honour awarded by the robotics industry. He was also awarded the “Boeing Supplier of the Year 2011”. Dr Christensen is a fellow of American Association for Advancement of Science (AAAS) and Institute of  Electrical and Electronic Engineers (IEEE). His research has been featured in major media including CNN, The New York Times and BBC.

Trent Lund

Mr Lund is the Lead Partner for Innovation & Digital Ventures at PwC Australia. He helps organisations leverage emerging technologies to transform ideas into customer-centred, commercial outcomes. With two decades of industry knowledge, he has worked across the globe – including in the Asia-Pacific, the United Kingdom and the Middle East. He has worked in business consultancy and new ventures where innovation is leveraged to identify new sources of value.

Andrew Harris

Andrew Harris is a Professor of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering at The University of Sydney, and the Australian director of Laing O’Rourke’s future engineering and innovation consultancy, the Engineering Excellence Group. Laing O’Rourke is Australia’s largest private engineering and construction business.

Professor Harris received his PhD from the University of Cambridge in 2002 and is a Chartered Engineer and Fellow of the Institution of Chemical Engineers (IChemE) and Engineers Australia (IEAust).

Throughout his career he has worked at the interface between industry and academia.

He is a non-executive Director of Hazer Group (ASX:HZR), a listed clean tech, and serves on the industry advisory board of the Australian Research Council Centre for Robotic Vision.

Professor Harris was recognised as one of Australia’s 50 most innovative engineers by peak body, Engineers Australia, in 2016.

Russel Rankin

Mr Rankin has more than 30 years’ experience in the food and beverage industry in various senior commercial and research positions. He is Director and Founder of Food Innovation  Partners Pty Ltd, a company that provides business, innovation and commercialisation services to the food industry, along with business development services for companies and research organisations.

Prior to starting Food Innovation Partners, Mr Rankin was General Manager – Innovation with the National Food Industry Strategy: a federal government initiative established to provide leadership to Australia’s food industry. He has also worked for CSIRO for more than 25 years in the area of food research before venturing into the commercial arena.

He is Chair of Queensland Department of Agriculture and QUT’s Agricultural Robotics program Advisory Board; member of Government of South Australia’s Advisory and Assessment Board for Advanced Food Manufacturing program; member of the Advisory Board to KFSU Pty Ltd, a company making dietary fibre from sugar cane; Director of The Food Market Company; Director of Freshly & Co; and Director of Beauty Drink Pty Ltd.