Meet our scientists

More than 600 scientists work for The Nature Conservancy worldwide. Meet the Australia program’s scientists working around the country to conserve nature.

Dr James Fitzsimons – Director of Conservation

James has developed and overseen large-scale conservation programs and developed conservation policy in government and non-government organisations. Prior to joining The Nature Conservancy, James worked with the Victorian Environmental Assessment Council developing recommendations for public land use along the Murray River and for East Gippsland forests, and with the Victorian Department of Sustainability and Environment on protected area and conservation policy. He is a prolific publisher of conservation science materials, most recently as co-editor of the book Big, Bold and Blue: Lessons from Australia’s Marine Protected Areas.

As Director of Conservation for the Australia Program, James oversees our conservation planning, science, program implementation and policy functions. This includes major conservation programs in the tropical savannas of northern Australia, temperate estuaries of southern Australia, the wetlands and floodplains of the Murray-Darling Basin, and urban landscapes.

James has a PhD in environmental science from Deakin University. He commenced working at TNC in 2008 and works from our Melbourne office. Find out more about James.

Dr Chris Gillies – Marine Manager

Chris has worked across the science and conservation sectors in both aquatic and terrestrial environments but his true passion is the ocean. He was formerly the Director of Science at Earthwatch Australia, where he managed the scientific program across their expedition and citizen science portfolio. He has served as an invertebrate ecologist for both state and federal government environmental agencies and several consultancies. Chris’ doctoral research focused on Antarctic shallow-water marine food webs and his later research includes coastal climate change, impacts of marine debris and shellfish reef ecology. He is a three-time summer Australian Antarctic expeditioner.

As our Marine Manager, Chris leads our Great Southern Seascapes program helping to protect and restore healthy marine ecosystems, from Western Australia to New South Wales.

Chris has a PhD in marine ecology from Southern Cross University. He commenced working at TNC in 2014 and works from our Melbourne office. Find out more about Chris.

David Hinchley – Northern Australia Program Manager

David comes from a farming background and is a true lover of the outdoors. He has extensive experience in managing lands and working for conservation organisations, as well as broad skills in working with communities to achieve conservation and development aims. He has used these skills in Australia, as well as in Asia, Europe and Africa.

As our Northern Australia Program Manager, David manages our support for indigenous programs across the northern parts of Western Australia, the Northern Territory and Queensland. He has previously been our Palau Country Program Director.

David has a Masters in Natural Resource Management from the University of New England, New South Wales. He commenced working at TNC in 2001 and works from our Atherton office in northern Queensland.

Natalie Holland – Conservation Projects Manager

Natalie has previously worked for WWF-Australia and as the Stewardship Program Manager for Trust for Nature (Victoria), working with landholders and communities to protect areas of natural bushland on private land across Victoria.

As Conservation Projects Manager for the Australia program, Natalie supports conservation planning and assessments throughout the country and manages our involvement in the Murray-Darling Basin Balance Water Fund. Previously, she led a capacity building program for indigenous groups across northern Australia in the use of Healthy Country Planning, an adaptation of the Open Standards for the Practice of Conservation. She is also co-lead of the Conservation Coaches Network in Australia.

Natalie has a Bachelor of Applied Science (Natural Resources Management) and a Bachelor of Science (Honours) from Deakin University, Victoria. She commenced working at TNC in 2008 and works from our Melbourne office.

Martin Hartigan – Urban Conservation Manager

Martin has experience in managing environmental sustainability teams in local government, developing and implementing climate change mitigation, adaptation and integrated water management strategies. Previously, he was the inaugural coordinator of the Inner Melbourne Action Plan group of councils responsible for directing multiple projects across various professional disciplines in an innovative governance environment. He has worked as a river catchment coordinator for the Werribee and Upper Maribyrnong catchments and as an environmental land use planner and policy officer at the EPA Victoria.

As Urban Conservation Manager, Martin leads our development of the Melbourne metropolitan urban greening strategy.

Martin has a Bachelor of Applied Science (Planning) from RMIT University and a Post Graduate Diploma in Environmental Studies from the University of Melbourne. He commenced working at TNC in 2016 and works from our Melbourne office.

Dr Geoff Lipsett-Moore – Climate Specialist

Geoff has worked in a broad range of conservation capacities over three decades ranging from field assistant, wildlife biologist, ecologist, conservation planner to CEO. He has worked in an equally varied range of environments including sub Antarctic Heard Island, the boreal forests of Canada, the tropical forests of Peru, the reefs of PNG, and the Australian desert.

In his capacity as Climate Specialist, Geoff is focused on climate change adaptation and mitigation initiatives in support of indigenous people in Australia and the Pacific.

Geoff has a PhD in tropical rainforest ecology from James Cook University, Queensland. He commenced working at TNC in 2006 and works from his home office in Queensland.

Dr Luke Preece – Northern Australia Conservation Officer

Luke is dedicated to environmental issues and seeks to make a positive impact to northern Australia. He has always been inspired by beautiful landscapes, and has a keen interest in conserving and making the most out of healthy ecosystems and the services they provide. Luke came to TNC from Cape York Natural Resource Management Ltd.

As our Northern Australia Conservation Officer, Luke is working with Indigenous groups to sustainably manage and protect their lands (country) in line with their aspirations.

Luke has a Bachelor of Science (Botany) and a PhD in forest conservation strategies from Charles Darwin University. He commenced working at TNC in 2016 and works from his Cairns office. Find out more about Luke.

Simon Branigan – Marine Restoration Coordinator

Simon is particularly passionate about marine and coastal restoration – a passion informed by growing up fishing and diving in Queensland, spending many years of surfing throughout Australia, and spending 15 years working in restoration in estuarine and coastal ecosystems. Prior to joining The Nature Conservancy, he worked at the Victorian National Parks Association. He has also been on the Board of Directors for Surfrider Foundation Australia and as Chairperson for Environment Tasmania.

As our Marine Restoration Coordinator, Simon’s main area of focus is the development of our Great Southern Seascapes program in Victoria, which centres around restoring the lost shellfish reefs of Port Phillip Bay and making a significant and lasting contribution to the restoration and conservation of the states estuarine and coastal ecosystems.

Simon has a Master of Environmental Management from The University of Tasmania. He commenced working at TNC in 2014 and works from his home office in Ocean Grove and our Melbourne office.

Anita Nedosyko – Marine Restoration Coordinator

Anita is a marine biologist, science educator and learning coach. Prior to joining The Nature Conservancy, she worked at Flinders University as co-founder of The Saving Nemo Conservation Program, as an environmental consultant for an engineering firm and for the Commonwealth Government as an environmental assessment officer for mining and offshore oil development. Anita also held a position as Executive Director of a social enterprise that developed education programs for secondary schools.

As our Marine Restoration Coordinator in South Australia, Anita overseas the construction of Windara Reef in Gulf St Vincent as part of our Great Southern Reefs project.

Anita has an honours degree in Marine Biology from Flinders University and a Graduate Diploma in Environmental Management from University of Adelaide. She commenced working at TNC in 2016 and works from South Australia. Find out more about Anita.

Dr Simon Reeves – Mapping Ocean Wealth Coordinator

Simon has worked in a number of roles managing and supporting field programs undertaking oceanographic and biological marine research from the tropics to Antarctica. In these roles he has been lucky enough to spend two years, living and working year round, on Antarctic research bases with the Australian Antarctic Division and the British Antarctic Survey. The highlight from this work was cutting holes in sea-ice and scuba diving in the middle of an Antarctic winter.

As our Mapping Ocean Wealth Coordinator, Simon aims to quantify and communicate the benefits that Australia’s marine habitats provide to people. Simon’s doctoral work examines the resilience of temperate reef systems in urban settings. His research was heavily field-focused and saw him spending long hours underwater undertaking surveys and experiments determining the factors that contribute to the collapse or recovery of temperate reef habitats.

Simon has a Bachelor of Marine Science, a Masters of Antarctic Science and a PhD in kelp forest ecology from the University of Tasmania. He commenced working at TNC in 2016 and works from Adelaide.

Australian scientists are also well represented in our global organisation, including:

Dr Hugh Possingham – Chief Scientist

Hugh is a world renowned scientist with a highly distinguished career during which he has published over 400 peer-reviewed papers and supervised 35 doctoral students. He co-developed the Marxan software for systematic conservation planning, which is considered the most significant contribution to conservation biology to emerge from Australia’s research community.

As Chief Scientist for The Nature Conservancy, Hugh leads the scientific work of our global organisation including more than 600 scientists engaged in conservation efforts impacting 72 countries around the world.

Hugh has a Bachelor’s degree with Honours from the department of Applied Mathematics at the University of Adelaide. He completed his Doctor of Philosophy at Oxford University on a Rhodes Scholarship with his thesis focused on optimal foraging theory. He commenced working at TNC in 2016 and works from our Brisbane and Washington, DC offices. Find out more about Hugh.

Dr Eddie Game – Lead Scientist, Asia Pacific Region

Eddie has worked on conservation projects in more than 15 countries and has published more than 50 papers on aspects of conservation science. He co-authored a major book on the science that underpins TNC’s work – Conservation Planning: Informed Decisions for a Healthier Planet – and is the Editor-in-Chief of the journal Conservation Letters.

As Lead Scientist for our Asia Pacific region, Eddie conducts conservation research not only in Australia but also in neighbouring countries like Indonesia, Mongolia and Papua New Guinea.
Eddie has a PhD in marine conservation from the University of Queensland. He commenced working at TNC in 2008 and works from our Brisbane office. Find out more about Eddie.