AIMS Council

The AIMS Council sets the Institute's key objectives and research strategies and oversees AIMS' management. 

The AIMS Council consists of a Chairman, AIMS' Chief Executive Officer, a member nominated by James Cook University, and four other members.  The AIMS Act requires that at least three members of Council must have scientific qualifications.  All members of Council, with the exception of the Chief Executive Officer, are non-executive appointments made by the Governor General on the nomination of the Minister. Appointments can be up to five years and re-appointment is permissible. The Chief Executive Officer is appointed by the Council for a period not exceeding five years and is eligible for re-appointment.


The Honourable Penelope Wensley AC FAIIA

Council Chairman: 01 January, 2015 – 31 December, 2019

Penny Wensley‘s appointment as Chairman of the AIMS’ Council continues a long and distinguished career of public service, to Australia and Queensland.

An arts graduate from the University of Queensland (BA Ist Class Hons 1967), Penny chose diplomacy as a career, joining the Australian Department of External  Affairs in 1968 and remaining in the diplomatic service for forty years, until 2008, when she returned to her home state to become  Governor of Queensland. She served Queensland in this role for six years, from 2008-2014.

As a diplomat, Ms Wensley held many significant leadership positions, in Australia and overseas, achieving national and international recognition for her contribution to foreign policy and international relations and to the UN.  Overseas, she served successively as  Australia’s  Consul-General, Hong , Ambassador to the United Nations (UN) in Geneva, Ambassador for the Environment, Ambassador to the UN, New York, High Commissioner to India and Ambassador to France. In all instances, she was the first woman to occupy these roles for Australia. In Australia. In the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade in Canberra, she led several major policy divisions, managing Australia’s relations with North Asia and Europe and also headed the International Organisations and Legal Division.

 As Australia’s Ambassador to the UN and Ambassador for the Environment, Ms Wensley played a key role in the negotiation of several major international treaties, including the UN Framework Conventions on Climate Change (UNFCCC), Biodiversity (CBD) and Desertification (UNCCD) and was instrumental in the launch of the International Coral Reef Initiative (ICRI). She chaired or co-chaired a number of major UN conferences and processes, including the First UN Special Session on HIV/AIDS, the First UN Conference on the Sustainable Development of Small Island Developing States, and the UN Budget and Finance Committee.  Although involved with many other areas of policy development and advice during her career, these experiences created an enduring interest in issues of sustainability and natural resource management, in the contribution of science and scientific research to the development of good public policy, and in the subject of science communication and building better connections between science and decision-makers.

Ms Wensley applied those interests during her term as Governor, promoting the excellence of Queensland science and research institutions and serving as Patron of a wide range of organisations and peak bodies involved with the management of Queensland’s environment and natural resources.  She continues as the National Patron of Soil Science Australia (SSA).

Ms Wensley was made an Officer of the Order of Australia (AO) in 2001, a Grand Officer of the Order of Merit of France in 2009, and a Companion of the Order of Australia (AC) in 2011. She has been awarded Honorary Doctorates by the University of Queensland (1994), Griffith University (2008), the Queensland University of Technology (2011) and James Cook University (2013). She is a Fellow of the Australian Institute of International Affairs and an Honorary Fellow of the Environment Institute of Australia and New Zealand.

In addition to her role with the AIMS Council, Ms Wensley is a Director of the Lowy Institute for International Policy and Chairman of the Reef 2050 Advisory Committee, established jointly by the Australian and Queensland governments in 2015 to support implementation of the Reef 2050 Long-Term Sustainability Plan for the protection and management of the Great Barrier Reef.

Photo: Chair of AIMS Council The Hon Penelope Wensley AO

Professor Sandra Harding, BSc (Hons), MPubAdmin, PhD, Hon Doc JIU, FACE, FQA, FAICD, FAIM

Council member: 10 May, 2007 – 27 May, 2020

Sandra Harding represents James Cook University on the AIMS Council, and maintains links with the wider education sector. As Vice-Chancellor and President of the University since 2007, she is responsible for ensuring clear and effective leadership and management across all operating sites, including campuses in Townsville, Cairns and Singapore.  Professor Harding has extensive academic and academic leadership experience. An economic sociologist by training, her areas of enduring academic interest include work, organisation and markets and how they work. She also has a keen interest in public policy in two key areas: education policy and related areas; and, the global tropics, northern Australia and economic development. 

Professor Harding has undertaken a wide variety of external roles within the business community and the higher education sector.  Current roles include: Project Convener, State of the Tropics project; Commissioner, Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research; Director, Australian American Education Leadership Foundation; Director, Westpac Bicentennial Foundation Board; Councillor, Queensland Futures Institute; Member, Trade and Investment Policy Advisory Committee; Member, the Australia-China Council Board; Co-Vice Chair, the New Colombo Plan Reference Group; Director, Regional Australia Institute; Director, North Queensland Cowboys NRL club; Director, Townsville Enterprise; Director, Advance Cairns; and, Governor, Committee for Economic Development of Australia. 


Ms Anna Matysek, BEcon (Hons), MEnv

Council member: 15 June 2017 - 14 June 2022

Ms Matysek, an experienced economist and management consultant, is currently Strategy Executive, TransGrid, a position she has held since November 2016.

Ms Matysek offers skills in strategy, business development, consulting, and policy development in the resources, energy and infrastructure sectors from over 15 years’ work in both the public and private sectors. She has worked with global mining companies, utilities, industry associations, agribusinesses, and government agencies including holding senior positions in economics consulting firms, the Australian Bureau of Agricultural and Resource Economics and the Productivity Commission.

Prior to joining TransGrid, Ms Matysek was General Manager for Business Development and General Manager for Corporate Strategy at Rio Tinto for five years. These roles involved mining asset divestments, and overall project design and goal setting for corporate cost cutting programs, productivity performance improvement, and investment strategies.

During her time at ABARE, Ms Matysek was also a Lead author on the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change Fourth Assessment Report on Mitigation, and on the International Assessment of Agricultural Knowledge, Science and Technology for Development.

Ms Matysek was awarded a Master of Environment at the University of Melbourne in 2006, and a Bachelor of Economics (First class honours) at the University of Tasmania in 1999.

Dr Stephen Morton, BSc (Hons), PhD, GAICD

Council Member: 16 December, 2014 – 15 December, 2019

Dr Stephen Morton has extensive expertise in conservation, land management and ecological sustainability. He is currently an Honorary Fellow with CSIRO Land and Water. Dr Morton holds a Bachelor of Science (Honours) and a Doctor of Philosophy in animal ecology, both from the University of Melbourne, and has published more than 150 scientific articles, book chapters, books, refereed reports and popular articles. 

In the final decade of his career at CSIRO, he held senior positions as Chief of CSIRO Sustainable Ecosystems and then as Group Executive for Environment and Natural Resources (with responsibility for marine science), for Energy and Environment, and for Manufacturing, Materials and Minerals. In the latter role, Dr Morton oversaw the development of long-term, multimillion dollar research and development alliances with General Electric, Orica and BHP Billiton.

Since leaving CSIRO in 2011, Dr Morton has worked as an independent consultant and has taken on several advisory roles, including Chair of the Scientific Advisory Panel to the Lake Eyre Basin Ministerial Forum (Canberra, ACT), Deputy Chair of Territory Natural Resource Management (Darwin, NT), Chair of the Arid Recovery Advisory Board (Roxby Downs, SA), member of the Board of the Western Australian Biodiversity Science Institute (Perth, WA), and member of the GBR Water Quality Taskforce for the Queensland Government (Brisbane, Qld).


Photo: Member of AIMS Council Dr Stephen Morton

Mr Roy Peterson,  BCom, FCA, FTI

Council Member:  11 December, 2014 – 10 December, 2019

Roy Peterson holds a Bachelor of Commerce degree from the University of Queensland. He is a chartered accountant with strong governance and audit committee experience, including internal audit, risk management, process improvement and taxation. Mr Peterson has worked in audit and finance positions for more than 32 years, including 26 years as a Partner with PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC).

Mr Peterson is currently the Chairman of the AIMS Audit Committee.  He is a member of a number of audit and finance committees, government bodies and not-for-profit organisations, has chaired the North Queensland committee for the Australian Institute of Company Directors (AICD), and was a member of the Taxation Institute National Taxation Liaison committee. He is a Fellow of the Institute of Chartered Accountants and a Fellow of the Taxation Institute of Australia.


Photo: Member of AIMS Council Mr Roy Peterson

Dr Paul Hardisty

Council Member: 24 July 2017 - 23 July, 2022