Professor Martin Van Kranendonk
Plenary Speaker

Martin is one of the world’s foremost authorities on the geology of the early Earth, when our planet was just beginning to form a stable crust that could harbour life. As Director of the NASA-affiliated Australian Centre for Astrobiology and the Big Questions Institute at the University of New South Wales Sydney, he and his team research the earliest signs of life in rocks more than 3 billion years old, and use this to search for life on Mars and investigate the conditions necessary for the origin of life itself. His work has featured in numerous television and radio documentaries around the world, including a currently showing IMAX film called The Story of Earth.

Presentation: Searching for life on Mars in our own backyard; the quest for a second genesis

Paul Agnew
Plenary Speaker

Paul Agnew is an exploration geologist with more than 30 years of experience with Rio Tinto Exploration searching for a wide range of commodities in diverse environments. He is currently Chief Geologist – Exploration Technology, leading a team of technical specialists to deliver innovative exploration technologies to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of mineral exploration.

Presentation: The Future of Exploration Geoscience

Dr Jess Melbourne-Thomas
Plenary Speaker

Dr Jess Melbourne-Thomas is a Transdisciplinary Researcher and Knowledge Broker with CSIRO Oceans & Atmosphere. Her research background is in mathematical modelling and Antarctic climate change science and she was a Lead Author for the recent IPCC Special Report on the Oceans & Cryosphere in a Changing Climate. Jess co-founded the Homeward Bound project, which took the largest ever all female expedition on a leadership journey to Antarctica in 2016. She was one of Australia’s first 30 Superstars of STEM and was named Tasmania’s Young Tall Poppy of the Year in 2015 for her excellence in research, science communication and policy engagement. Jess was the 2020 Tasmanian Australian of the Year.

Presentation: Engagement, diversity and interdisciplinarity to tackle future challenges

Dr Megan Clark
Plenary Speaker

Dr Clark is currently Head of the Australian Space Agency and a director of Rio Tinto and CSL Limited. She is a member of the Australian advisory board of the Bank of America Merrill Lynch. Dr Clark recently chaired the Expert Working Group into the Review of Australia’s Space Industry Capability. She was Chief Executive of the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO) from 2009 to 2014.  Prior to CSIRO, she was a Director at NM Rothschild and Sons (Australia) and was Vice President Technology and subsequently Vice President Health, Safety and Environment at BHP Billiton from 2003 to 2008.

Dr Clark holds a BSc from the University of Western Australia and a PhD from Queen’s University, Canada and is a Fellow of the Australian Academy of Technology and Engineering, a Fellow of the AusIMM and a Fellow of the Australian Institute of Company Directors.  In 2014, she was appointed a Companion of the Order of Australia.

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Presentation: TBA

About the GSA

The Geological Society of Australia was established as a non-profit organisation in 1952 to promote, advance and support Earth sciences in Australia.

As a broadly based professional society that aims to represent all Earth Science disciplines, the GSA attracts a wide diversity of members working in a similarly broad range of industries.

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