Guest Speaker Date Topic
Katherine Woodthorpe AO 31 January – 4 February Climate Change
Project Manta 17 – 29 February Manta Ray Research
Jonti Horner 24 – 27 April Astronomy
Project Manta 13 – 27 June Manta Ray Research
Jonti Horner 19 – 22 June Astronomy
Prof. Charlie Vernon 4 – 7 July Coral Reefs
Jonti Horner 11 – 14 September Astronomy
Jonti Horner 16 – 19 October Astronomy
Jonti Horner 11 – 14 December Astronomy

*subject to change

Katherine Woodthorpe AO

Chair of the Antarctic Science Foundation

Chair of the Bushfire and Natural Hazards Cooperative research Centre

Chair of the Commonwealth Government’s Climate Science Advisory Committee

Member of the Minister for Science’s Roundtable of Eminent Scientists for Bushfire Science

Project Manta

Project Manta is a multidisciplinary research program based at the University of Queensland, Brisbane. It was founded in 2007 to investigate the population biology and ecology of manta rays in eastern The Project Manta team visit Lady Elliot Island several times a year. On these expeditions the team will conduct research which includes photographing, observing and recording manta ray behaviour. In the lab, they identify individual rays from photographs and enter the results in the database. They also collect samples of water and plankton and take oceanographic measurements of water

Jonti Horner

Professor Jonti Horner is an astronomer and astrobiologist at the University of Southern Queensland. He first became interested in astronomy at the age of five, and has been hooked ever since. After spending his youth observing the night sky, and going to lectures at his local astronomical society, Jonti went to the University of Durham, where he spent four years studying towards a Masters’ degree in Physics and Astronomy. He then moved to the University of Oxford, where he obtained his doctorate for a thesis entitled ‘The Behaviour of Small Bodies in the Outer Solar System.’. Once his studies were complete, he moved to the University of Bern, in Switzerland, where he spent three years as a Postdoctoral Research Fellow. Spells at the UK’s Open University and the University of Durham followed, before he moved to Australia in 2010, to take up a position at the University of New South Wales. In 2014, Jonti accepted a position at the University of Southern Queensland, where he became the Vice-Chancellor’s Senior Research Fellow.

Jonti is a passionate and enthusiastic science communicator. He gives regular talks to a wide variety of community groups, schools, and astronomical societies, and makes monthly appearances on ABC Queensland’s Evenings program, with Trevor Jackson. His research covers topics ranging from the formation and evolution of our Solar system to the search for planets around other stars. He is particularly interested in understanding the different factors that could make some of those planets more (or less) suitable for the development of life, and is looking forward to seeing the next generation of astronomical telescopes make a serious effort at answering the question “Are We Alone?”.

Jonti writes regular articles for the Australian research news website The Conversation, which can be found at: . His Twitter handle is @JontiHorner, and his personal webpage is located at

Prof. Charlie Vernon

Has three higher degrees in different fields of science: reptilian physiology, insect neurobiology and coral taxonomy.

Was the first full-time researcher on the Great Barrier Reef and the first scientist employed by the Australian Institute of Marine Science. He became Chief Scientist of that organisation in 1997, a position he held for 7 years.

Has 100 publications on almost anything to do with corals from palaeontology, taxonomy and biogeography to physiology and molecular science. He has also published widely on other subjects notably evolution, mass extinctions, more recently, a major website. His best-known publications are:

  1. The five volume monograph Scleractinia of Eastern Australia which created the basis of a new, now universally used, coral taxonomy.
  2. Corals in Space and Time (Cornell, 1995)
  3. The three volume Corals of the World (2000).
  4. Coral ID, CD-ROM (2002).
  5. A Reef in Time: The Great Barrier Reef from Beginning to End (Harvard, 2008).
  6. (2016) a compilation of all taxonomic and biogeographic information about corals.
  7. Autobiography A Life Underwater (Penguin Random House, 2017)

Veron was awarded the Darwin Medal for his work on evolution, the AMSA Jubilee Pin for his coral taxonomy, the Australasian Science Prize and other wards for various publications. His last award was for Lifetime Achievement from the American Academy of Underwater Science.

Veron has named about ¼ of the world’s coral species, and mapped and re-described them all. This work has underpinned most major reef conservation initiatives over the past two decades including the ‘Coral Triangle’ which he discovered.

He has been diving continually since he was 18, logging 6000 hours underwater. He has participated in 67 expeditions to most major reef regions of the world.