Presenter Profiles

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  • Prof Ramani Narayan, Michigan State University
  • Prof Andrew Ball, RMIT University
  • Johannes Biala, Centre for Recycling of Organic Waste and Nutrients, The University of Queensland
  • Nigel Blieschke, Torbreck Vintners
  • Elisabeth Blik, WildBlueGlobal
  • Dr Michael Crawford, CRC for High Performance Soils
  • Susie Chapman, Healthy Land and Water
  • Dr Georgina Davis, Qld Farmers' Federation
  • Ross Fox, Fishburn Watson O'Brien Lawyers
  • Sean Galdermans, WTT Australia
  • Bill Grant, Blue Environment
  • Brice Kaddatz, Macadamia & Horticultural Services
  • Amanda Kane, NSW EPA
  • Dr Bronwyn Laycock, School of Chemical Engineering, UQ
  • Dr Muriel Lepesteur-Thompson, EPA Victoria
  • John Logan, Axiom Research
  • Dr Ash Martin, Microbiology Laboratories Australia
  • Declan McDonald, SESL Australia
  • Kurt Palmer, Steinert Australia
  • Dr Darren Perrin, Ricardo
  • Tim Richards, AORA
  • Lou Sherman, Scion
  • Matthew Warnken, Corporate Carbon
  • Natalie Williams, Soils for Life
Dr. Narayan has 153 refereed publications in leading journals to his credit, 28 issued patents, edited three books and one expert dossier in the area of bio-based polymeric materials. His research encompasses design & engineering of sustainable, biobased products, biodegradable plastics and polymers, biofiber reinforced composites, reactive extrusion polymerization and processing, studies in plastic end-of-life options like biodegradation and composting. His research involves developing carbon and environmental footprint of biobased and biodegradable plastics and products using biocarbon content analysis (ASTM D6866) and LCA (life cycle assessment) methodology.

Andy graduated from Liverpool University, UK in 1986 with a PhD in Microbiology. Following a three year position as Senior Research Fellow at Liverpool University he took up a lectureship at the University of Essex, UK, becoming a Reader in 2000. In 2005 Andy took up the position of Foundation Chair in Environmental Biotechnology at Flinders University. In 2012 Andy moved to RMIT University where he is the Founding Director of the Centre for Environmental Sustainability and Remediation. The Microbial Life Group at RMIT University (previously based at Essex University and Flinders University) has been headed by Andy since 1995. The molecular methods developed to monitor microbial communities in the natural environments are now used on a world-wide basis. Running parallel with these studies within the group at RMIT University has been the development of biotechnological applications based on natural microbial communities.

Equipped with degrees in Agriculture and Environmental Science, Johannes Biala has worked in organics recycling, composting and the use of recycled organic products for some 30 years. He has extensive experience as consultant and researcher in all key areas of the organics recycling supply chain, and has last year established the Centre for Recycling of Organic Waste and Nutrients at the University of Queensland’s School of Agriculture, of which he is now a director.

Nigel Blieschke is the head of viticulture at Torbreck Vintners and is based at Marananga in the Barossa Valley. After graduating from Roseworthy Agricultural College with a Bachelor of Applied Science in Natural Resource Management in 1993, Nigel began his wine career working firstly as a cellar hand with Penfolds and Orlando Wyndham before moving into the vineyards at Jim Barry wines in 1994. In 1996 after completing a vintage at Leasingham wines in the Clare Valley, Nigel decided to follow his love of viticulture; completing a Graduate Certificate in Viticulture from The University of Adelaide. Nigel then spent 12 years as a viticulturist for The Yalumba Wine Company, working with their growers and vineyards in both South Australia and Victoria as well as managing their vine nursery. Nigel joined the Peter Lehmann Wines team in November 2008 where his primary task was to liaise with Peter Lehmann’s Barossa grape growers, and also their winemaking team on grape and wine quality. After 7 years at Peter Lehmann Nigel took up his current position as head of Viticulture at Torbreck Vintners and he now manages over 100ha of vineyard in the Barossa Valley, including 22ha of 100+ year old Shiraz, Grenache, Mataro and Semillon.

Elisabeth is passionate about living life to its fullest. With academic qualifications spanning sustainable development, soil health, and education, she runs a private consulting company, husbands several thousand animals, and dabbles in compost.

Elisabeth has undertaken several recycled organics projects for NSW EPA, Sustainability Victoria, local & regional councils, and private industry. These have included: the supply and aggregation of organic material; high-end methodology; and research reports on market capacity.

She loves the natural environment, good food, hard work, dirt, and most other things living (sometimes including people).

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.

Susie Chapman is the Northern Area Manager Coastal Catchments and Regional Landcare Facilitator for Healthy Land and Water based at the University of the Sunshine Coast. She has worked in collaborative catchment management at a variety of scales including community water quality monitoring on the Sunshine Coast and SEQ for over 20 years. In 2011 she won the Australian Government Local Landcare Facilitator/Co-ordinator award for Queensland, and in 2012 for Australia. In 2012 she was awarded an Honorary Senior Fellowship at the University of the Sunshine Coast.

Georgina is a Chartered Waste Manager with over 20 years’ international experience in the waste management and resources recovery sector. She has specialised in organics collections and processing from a range of generators and has extensive experience operating and trialling different biological treatment technologies to achieve optimal processing and fit for purpose products. She is an Adjunct member of the Australian Rivers Institute at Griffith University. Today, Georgina will speak in her role as policy advisor for the Queensland Farmers Federation, covering the energy, water and resources portfolio.

Ross is an environment and planning lawyer advising several AORA NSW members on regulatory and compliance matters including Remondis and Global Renewables. He worked for 9 years for the NSW EPA including as a Principal Legal Officer including acting as Director Litigation for the EPA for various periods. During that time he advised the Chair of the EPA, the Executive Director Waste and Resource Recovery and senior managers on regulatory issues. Ross was also responsible for running major prosecutions in the NSW Land and Environment Court.

Since the start of his career, Sean has been working for Waste Treatment Technologies Netherlands BV, in The Netherlands, one of the leading countries in waste treatment. Joining as a Mechanical Engineer in 2011, Sean progressed to his role as Sales Engineer, Project Manager and currently Bid and Project manager for the subsidiary office WTT Australia Pty Ltd.

To maximize WTT Australia’s success and provide local support to its clientele, Sean moved to Sydney in February ‘18.

Sean delivers over seven years’ industry experience designing Waste Treatment Facilities (AWT) across the world, dealing with different waste streams, legislations and business models.

Bill is an agricultural and environmental scientist and agronomist who has worked with the recycled organics sector since the mid-1990s. As a co-owner of environmental consultancy, Blue Environment, Bill mainly works in the area of organics resource recovery on jobs ranging from: research and analysis; to policy and program reviews; to working with local governments planning organics recovery systems; to technology reviews; to field trials of compost products. With SESL Australia, Blue Environment is also undertaking a Hort Innovations Australia project looking at how earthworms and viticulture can boost the productivity of commercial vegetable farms. Bill has also undertaken work for AORA looking at how carbon from composts can be recognised under the emissions reduction fund.

Brice Kaddatz has been directly involved in the macadamia industry for 16 years, all served in a productivity support role, initially with a major processor and more recently with the Australian Macadamia Society. Brice also served on the AMS board of directors for four years prior to taking up the productivity support role in Qld. Brice’s work and interest has led him to focus on encouraging adoption of orchard conditions mirroring the environment in which wild macadamias are traditionally found. Elimination of top soil loss and increased soil carbon levels are the goal. Brice also serves as the current chair of the Macadamia Conservation Trust, charged with conserving the remnant wild macadamia trees.

Amanda Kane manages the NSW EPA’s $100 million program to get food and garden waste out of landfill. She is a former journalist and public affairs professional, specialising in environmental PR. Since 2015, she has been leading the delivery of the Waste Less, Recycle More Organics Infrastructure Fund, which includes the Love Food Hate Waste education program, funding for new food and garden waste kerbside collection services, funding for organics processing and food donation infrastructure and funding to develop markets for the recycled product.

Bronwyn is a Senior Lecturer in the School of Chemical Engineering and the Dow Centre for Sustainable Engineering Innovation at the University of Queensland, Brisbane.  Her expertise spans chemistry and chemical engineering and her focus has been on waste transformation and materials for the circular economy. She is the TRANSFORM Research Program Leader in the recently announced Fight Food Waste CRC.

Dr Muriel Lepesteur has over 15 year experience in research in Australia and Europe. As a Senior Research Fellow at Murdoch University, she managed an environmental microbiological laboratory, whose consultancy and research activities focused on pathogens in water, wastewater, biosolids, compost and recreational waters. Muriel also gained a valuable operational experience in the composting industry while working at the SORF and representing Gippsland Water on the VicWater biosolids working group. After a few years as the Operations Manager for the Chemical & Environment Division of Hazelwood Power Station, Muriel joined EPA Victoria. In her new role as Senior Health Risk Advisor within the Environmental Public Health Unit at EPA Victoria, she is now providing expert advice on all microbial issues relevant to the protection of the environment, in particular for the development of new policies for recreational waters and composting facilities.

John has over twenty years market research experience in a wide variety of large and small industries and business cultures.

John has an special interest in contributing to the development of Australian agriculture, he has considerable insight into agrarian related industries gained through extensive hands-on rural experience as a graduate of Orange Agricultural College and time spent working on the land and in rural service related roles.

John has conducted targeted regional research projects and large-scale national assignments for local and multinational agribusiness clients.

Dr Ash Martin is the Co-Principal Scientist and Managing Director of Microbiology Laboratories Australia (Microbe Labs), a world leader in commercial microbiology analysis of soil, fertilisers and compost for agriculture, forestry and the environment. Ash’s broad range of experiences gives him a unique ability to apply science to practical problems. From working in orchards as a boy until completing a PhD in applied soil microbiology (Adelaide), Ash has worked as an experimental scientist (CSIRO), postdoctoral researcher (Monash), technical officer (NSW Agriculture) research officer (CSR Wood Panels) agronomist, farmer and nurseryman. Ash enjoys helping to make compost production and use more sustainable by providing tests and expertise to help manage compost microbiology.

Declan has over 25 years experience in agricultural, horticultural, recreational and amenity soil management.  In May 2014 he opened an office for SESL in Victoria.

He holds a B.Sc in Urban Horticulture (UTS) and a Master of Sustainable Agriculture (University of Sydney).

He has a strong background in Urban Horticulture, Agricultural Production and Natural Resource Management through his work in Private Enterprise, State and Local Governments, and Catchment Management Authorities.

He has authored / co-authored a number of publications aimed at improving understanding and management of soil as a living realm which include the use of compost on agricultural land.  He is currently working with large agricultural and horticultural enterprises to develop strategies and practices to maximise the benefit of compost applications for a range of land uses.  He developed and previously presented to the AORA 2016 conference a calculator to guide fertiliser reduction when used in association with compost.

In his current position of Senior Soil Scientist with SESL Australia he is responsible for high level technical input for corporate and private farms, land assessments, major redevelopment work aimed at re-using site soils, and urban renewal projects, all while continuing to follow his passion for sustainable management of our soil resources.

Kurt Palmer has been in the recycling industry for 8 years selling equipment throughout South East Asia, Australia, and New Zealand. His main focus in the recycling industry has been improving the profitability of his customers through process improvement and plant automation. Kurt has a passion for recycling and reducing the environmental impact we are having on the planet. He brings 25 years machinery sales experience with him.

Darren is an Associate Director in the Ricardo Energy & Environment Management Team, with responsibility for technical quality and client facing delivery on projects in the UK and overseas. Darren has worked in waste consultancy for around 18 years, mainly in Europe, Australia, New Zealand and recently Hong Kong. Over the past two decades, Darren has undertaken a large number of projects on behalf of councils, state and national governments in the UK, Australia and New Zealand. These have principally been around waste strategy development/review, data, support with creating the business case for service change or assessing the performance of the waste systems, policy or strategy. He has an excellent understanding of collection and treatment systems, modelling performance, producing and presenting business cases, completing options appraisals, and supporting with system design and implementation.

Tim Richards is a Director of Richgro Garden Products.  The company was founded in 1916 and today it remains’ a family run business, Tim is part of the fourth generation to be working in the company.  Tim has a passion for creating sustainable products for the future, and actively works in cutting edge areas of the industry to help the company stay at the forefront of the Garden industry in Australia.  Tim has actively served on various boards and committees at both a State and National level.

Lou Sherman is the Packaging Research Leader at SCION with a background in packaging development, with 10 year experience working for food and pharmaceutical companies both in Europe and New Zealand. SCION is New Zealand’s forest research institute focusing on forestry, fibres and bio products New Zealand. She is currently leading SCION’s packaging program which is currently focused on the prediction and measurement of packaging performance, particularly in the chilled supply chain; developing bio based high barrier films; and packaging technologies which enable product traceability.

Matthew Warnken is founder and Managing Director of Corporate Carbon, Australia’s leading multi-sector contractor of carbon abatement projects under the Emissions Reduction Fund.  Matthew has formal training in natural resource management and gained undergraduate qualifications in Arts and Science from the Australian National University.  He has a Masters of Engineering Research from the University of Sydney, and a business Masters in early stage commercialisation from the University of Adelaide. 

Natalie Williams is the Soils for Life Chief of Staff. She joined the organisation in 2017, bringing practical regeneration experience as a former land manager of a a 7600 hectare sustainably-managed cattle station. Natalie has run her own businesses and has held numerous Director positions on Corporate Agriculture Management boards. Natalie is also a former Nuffield Scholar, studying carbon sequestration in arid and semi-arid environs, sustainable grazing systems and how farmers can make money trading carbon.