H2OHack: Meet the speakers

Dr Jane Doolan,
Commissioner, Productivity Commission

Dr. Jane Doolan is currently the Environment Commissioner at the Productivity Commission and an adjunct Professor at the University of Canberra. She was formerly a Professorial Fellow in Natural Resource Governance at the University of Canberra, a Commissioner with the National Water Commission and the Deputy Secretary for Water in the Victorian Department of Environment and Primary Industries. She has more than 27 years’ experience in the sustainable management of catchments and water resources and has been responsible for providing policy advice to both state and Commonwealth governments on sustainable water resource management and driving key policy initiatives in river health, environmental water allocations and catchment management, both in the state and at the national level. She has a PhD in Zoology from the University of Melbourne.

Mr. Oded Distel,
CEO, Tal-Ya Agricultural Solutions

Oded is the CEO of Tal-Ya Agricultural Solutions, a company that helps producers create an ideal microclimate for the roots of young trees and vegetables plants. With this venture, Oded is building up a small and promising company to improve agricultural globally. Prior to this, Oded was the Founder and Director of “Israel NewTech” – Israel’s world-renowned National Energy & Water Program at the Ministry of Economy & Industry for 24 years.

Dr. Anastasia Volkova, Founder and CEO, Flurosat

Anastasia is an aeronautical engineer with a PhD in autonomous drone navigation, TEDx speaker and women in #STEM advocate. She has experience ranging from projects with the NASA robots onboard International Space Station to managing 370-person team for UEFA. Anastasia is a 2017 Amelia Earhart Fellow recognised for her commitment to advancing the application of aerospace engineering. Her passion for the real-world application has found expression in an agtech startup, FluroSat, which is closing the gap between the application of AI, science and sensing in precision agriculture. In just 4 years, FluroSat has acquired another company, expanded internationally (used in 10 countries now) and attracted the industry’s top agribusinesses as customers.

Mr. Craig Shapiro,
Co-CEO and Founder, The Bridge Hub 

Craig has more than 30 years of business experience spanning the worlds of finance, investments & innovation. After spending 25 years in the finance sector (22 years at Macquarie Group, Global Group Treasurer) he co-founded Blue River Group in 2015. Blue River is an active investor in the agrifood markets with a key focus on food sustainability, reducing waste and investing in regionally based businesses. In addition to overseeing the principal investment activities of Blue River, Craig is a co-founder of the Bridge Hub, which is a regionally based, globally connected, whole of life cycle innovation hub for the Australian and Global agrifood tech industry. Craig is currently a director of Riverina Fresh Pty Ltd, Chairman of the Jewish Care Foundation and a former director of The Sydney Institute and the ASX Listed fund manager Microequities Asset Management Ltd.

Prof. Niall Blair,
Professor of Food Sustainability, Charles Sturt University 

The Hon. Niall Blair is currently working with Charles Sturt University as a strategic professor of food sustainability and is a highly skilled professional with more than twenty years’ experience in Government and key private sectors, including risk management and agribusiness. He is an active participant in the food supply sector through his positions as Chairman of Elf Farm Supplies Pty ltd and a non-executive director of White Prince Mushrooms Pty ltd. He served in the NSW Parliament for nearly nine years and during his tenure he was appointed Deputy Leader of the Government in the Legislative Council as well as Minister for Primary Industries, Water, Lands, Trade and Industry. It was in these roles that he delivered significant reform across water, fisheries and agricultural research and innovation sectors. Mr Blair holds a Masters of Occupational Health and Safety and a Bachelor of Horticultural Science. He is graduate of the Australian Institute of Company of Directors.

Dr. Lorrae Van Kerkhoff,
Director of ANU Institute for Water Futures

Associate Professor Lorrae van Kerkhoff is the Director of the Institute for Water Futures, and is Associate Director Staff Development at the Fenner School of Environment and Society, at the Australian National University. Her research focuses on understanding the role of science in decision-making for complex environmental issues, especially with regard to preparing for uncertain but different futures. She uses qualitative social and institutional research methods to examine how knowledge is generated, shared, applied and governed, within Australia and internationally, and works collaboratively with stakeholders to generate innovative pathways for transition and transformation. Lorrae leads the Bachelor of Environment and Sustainability program and teaches Sustainable Development and Complex Environmental Problems in Action.

Prof. Elanor Huntington, Dean, College of Engineering & Computer Science 

Professor Elanor Huntington is the first female Dean of Engineering and Computer Science at the Australian National University. She is committed to reimagining Science and Technology for the future. In particular, Professor Huntington hopes to encourage young women to get involved in STEM related fields. Professor Huntington was previously the Head of School for the School of Engineering and Information Technology at UNSW Canberra. Additionally, she has served as Chief Investigator on several Australian Research Council projects, Program Manager for the ARC Centre for Excellence in Quantum Computational Communication Technologies and is an Honorary Fellow for The Institution of Engineers Australia. Professor Huntington holds a PhD (2000) in experimental quantum optics from the ANU. Her current research includes the control of quantum systems, with a particular interest in the interface between theory and applications.

Dr. Graham Bonnett,

Dr. Graham Bonnett has been a research scientist and later a research manager in CSIRO for the last 27 years. He is currently leading the development of a program of multi-partnered work to increase Australia’s resilience to drought.  As a researcher he has worked in temperate and tropical agricultural systems addressing industry problems in the grazing and sugarcane industries. As a research leader he has led Agricultural Systems research in CSIRO and facilitated the translation of research outcomes to industry through adoption of practices and through commercial channels. He has a practical interest in the translation of science to support decision making practiced through membership of the Gene Technology Technical Advisory Committee advising the Gene Technology Regulator and the Independent Science Panel for the Reef Water Quality Protection Plan.

Dr. Rose Brodrick,
Senior Research Scientist CSIRO Agriculture and Food.

Dr. Brodrick’s research is focussed on developing new technologies and integrated digital systems for the agricultural industry to improve farm productivity. Her primary research area is using sensing technology (in-field, aerial and satellite) to develop solutions for crop management. The teams Dr. Brodrick leads are working on projects targeting challenges generated by drought, variable and changing climates, by developing and delivering new knowledge, technologies and system solutions tailored to assisting in on farm decision making. Her research into crop physiology and agronomy has led to changes in production practices within the Australian Cotton Industry and she has strong collaborative relationships with researcher overseas. Dr Brodrick leads the CSIRO’s WaterWise Project, which brings together a multi-disciplinary team that are developing digital solutions for precision irrigation in high value crops as part of the CSIRO’s Digiscape Future Science Platform.

Mr. Stu Adam,
Co-Founder, Director at Agronomeye

Stu Adam leads Agronomeye’s technology and product development through a wide range of relationships across industry, research and the global tech community, ensuring the most practical and impactful outcomes are delivered to the client. Having built unique solutions in partnership with UNSW, Stu is now fostering Agronomeye’s relationship with CSIRO to commercialise Australia’s leading agricultural research. Stu knows how to build the bridge from technology to application, bringing the latest in precision agriculture and remote sensing to Australian farmers. Agronomeye’s relationship with CSIRO is focused on delivering detailed above ground water flow analysis at a full farm scale to help drive efficiencies in production and limit risk factors such as erosion.