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Meet our Team



Assoc Prof Helen Thompson

Centre Director: Assoc Prof Helen Thompson

Assoc Prof Thompson commenced as CeRDI Director in 2002. Under Helen's leadership, CeRDI has become one of Federation University Australia's most successful research centres, establishing a reputation for excellence at the regional, national and international level. As CeRDI Director, Helen focuses on:

  • The application of information and communications technology (ICT) and the development of innovative, world class knowledge management systems;
  • Significantly advancing the digital literacy and knowledge management capabilities and capacity of partner organisations;
  • Fostering the development and implementation of eResearch within industry, government and academia; and
  • Measuring the impact of eResearch and digital innovation through longitudinal research.

CeRDI has established a strong reputation for excellence having facilitated significant research funding and partnerships on substantial research projects and the formation of more than 100 long-term partnerships with industry, government, other universities and across the local and wider community and region. CeRDI research income represents approximately one-quarter of total Federation University research income.

Helen has accepted numerous awards for innovative initiatives undertaken by CeRDI. She is an active leader across of the University community and a member on various University and community linked committees and organisations. Helen provides university wide leadership for eResearch and is involved in a range of activities which contribute to the economic and social development of regional and rural Australia.

Call: 03 5327 9418

Assoc Prof Peter Dahlhaus

Principal Research Fellow: Assoc Prof Peter Dahlhaus

Peter's career spans 40 years in engineering geology, environmental geology and hydrogeology working in private and public sectors, investigating the geology, geomorphology, soils, groundwater and geohazards in south west Victoria. He has been influential in applying his scientific knowledge to direct policy on salinity, soils and catchment management. Peter is well-known as a science communicator by his students and community groups, and as an independent advisor to Catchment Management Authorities, water authorities and municipalities in the region. With his colleagues at CeRDI, Peter's current research focuses on spatial data interoperability and visualisation to ensure that environmental data, information and knowledge are globally and publicly available. He is an active collaborator on the development of international data exchange standards and a participant in national Cooperative Research Centres. Peter's passion is for establishing data democracies.

Call: 03 5341 3994

Dr Francisco Ascui

Professor Environmental Accounting: Dr Francisco Ascui

Francisco is an internationally recognised expert in environmental accounting, finance and risk management. He has a PhD in carbon accounting, an MBA and an MSc in Environmental Change and Management. He worked for ten years in international energy and carbon markets before moving into academia in 2009. At the University of Edinburgh Business School between 2009 and 2014 he co-founded and directed the Centre for Business and Climate Change and developed the world’s first MSc in Carbon Finance. In 2015 his work on carbon accounting was identified by the UK Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) as one of 50 landmark research contributions over the last 50 years and in recent years he has pioneered the development of a standardised methodology for natural capital risk assessment .


Dr Nathan Robinson

Senior Research Fellow: Dr Nathan Robinson

Nathan joined the CeRDI team in 2017 after working in soil and landscape analysis for the Victorian government for over 18 years. Nathan has led numerous regional land resource projects in Victoria for the Corangamite, Wimmera and Goulburn Broken CMA regions. More recently, Nathan has been a lead researcher in the use of proximal sensors and rapid sensing techniques in the assessment of soil properties and links to crop yield.

Nathan has an Applied Science Degree from the University of Ballarat with Honours in Geology (1999). Nathan completed his PhD at Federation University in 2016 with his research focused around digital soil mapping. Nathan has served in advisory roles to Catchment Management Authorities and is an active member of the Geomorphology Reference Group of Victoria. Recent publication awards include the 2016 Best Research Paper for the Department of Economic Development, Jobs, Transport and Resources. Nathan is currently focused on the advancement of spatial analysis to better understand the links of soil to agricultural production systems.

Call: 03 5327 8436

Dr Birgita Hansen

Senior Research Fellow: Dr Birgita Hansen

Birgita is leading the Food Agility CRC Better Data for Better Decisions research constellation, which aims to build a research program around improving the translation of data into knowledge that improves farm outcomes. She has extensive experience in ecology, environmental management and citizen science, with a strong focus on understanding the ecological response of birds to modification of their habitat. This has included studies of woodland birds in agricultural landscapes, and shorebird conservation, management and monitoring at local and continental scales. Birgita is leading a national scale citizen science monitoring program The Latham’s Snipe Project . She is a long-term member of the volunteer-run Victorian Wader Study Group and Vice Chair of the Australasian Wader Studies Group. Birgita completed her PhD at Monash University in 2009 on conservation genetics of Leadbeater's possums.

Call: 03 5327 9952

Alison Ollerenshaw

Research Fellow: Dr Alison Ollerenshaw

Alison has been employed in various research support and coordination roles during her academic career and is experienced in project management. She has skills in designing and conducting research that incorporates qualitative and quantitative research methods. Since joining CeRDI in 2012 Alison has been involved in Centre research, and assists in promoting CeRDI-wide research, through coordination of the quarterly newsletter. In 2016, Alison returned to full-time study and completed her PhD in which she conducted research into the relationship between business incubator services and tenants’ positive psychological constructs. Alison is now working in CeRDI on various projects and is supporting the impact research for projects within CeRDI’s collaborative research programmes.

Call: 03 5327 6201

Benedikt Fest

Research Fellow: Dr Benedikt Fest

Ben was appointed as a CeRDI research coordinator in 2021. Ben has over ten years research experience working in the field of ecosystem ecology. Ben holds a Bachelor of Science in Biology and a Master of Science in Ecology. Ben completed a PhD at the University of Melbourne in 2013, investigating the processes controlling soil methane exchange in Australian forest ecosystems. Ben was employed as a post-doctoral research fellow with the School of Ecosystem and Forest Sciences at the University of Melbourne investigating drivers of spatial variability in soil and ecosystem greenhouse gas exchange processes in forest and agricultural systems across Australia. Ben will apply his research skills and discipline knowledge to conduct research management and associated activities in CeRDI on various projects including Online Farms Trials.


Aakansha Chadha

Research Fellow, Digital Agronomy/Soil Science: Aakansha Chadha

Aakansha joined CeRDI in October 2022, having worked within the field of ecology and invasive plant management. Her PhD research focused on understanding the ecology of an invasive plant species and deriving management strategies (from field work conducted in tropical north Queensland). Her PhD is from Federation University, Australia in collaboration with Queensland Department of Agriculture and Fisheries and MSc from Mumbai University in Botany and plant biotechnology. Aakansha is looking forward to applying her research skills and discipline knowledge to conduct research and associated activities in CeRDI on various projects including Online Farms Trials.


Dr Carolyn Staines

Research Associate: Dr Carolyn Staines

Carolyn has more than 20 years’ experience in public health research. She completed her PhD in injury epidemiology at Monash University in 2013, and has contributed to a broad range of research projects in diverse fields including nursing practice, sports injuries, cancer epidemiology and drowning prevention.

Carolyn joined CeRDI in 2021 aiming to bring a broad set of quantitative and qualitative research skills to the Centre’s work.


Dr Megan Wong

Research Associate: Dr Megan Wong

Megan brings to the CeRDI team a broad range of experience gained across 15 years in the science, environment and education sectors. Megan completed her PhD in 2014 at Monash University which investigated the association of soil biology with vegetation and land use change across the Riverine Plains of Victoria. Her work has taken her from a medical research laboratory to a wide range of agricultural and natural landscapes in Australia where she has monitored, established trials, collated and analysed data for government organisations, community groups and universities. Megan has also worked across education sectors, including teaching environmental subjects at the tertiary level and conducting reviews and evaluations in the adult education sector.

Call: 03 5327 6536

Dr Judi Walters

Research Associate: Dr Judi Walters

Judi joined the team at CeRDI in 2015, having worked extensively within the field of scientific publishing, writing, and editing. She has a PhD from The University of Melbourne (based at Centre for Forest and Ecosystem Sciences) and an MSc from the University of Queensland (from field work conducted at the Queensland Forest Research Institute) where her research focussed on regeneration ecology of eucalypt forests. Judi is now assisting with a number of natural resource management projects at CeRDI.


Bruce Simons

Research Associate: Bruce Simons

Since graduating from The Australian National University in 1980, Bruce has worked as a geophysicist in private industry, and the Northern Territory and Victorian geological surveys. While at the Geological Survey of Victoria and, since 2012, at CSIRO, Bruce has designed information management systems and been a part of international and national collaborative research projects into data exchange mechanisms and interoperability.

In addition to the resulting geology (GeoSciML) and groundwater (GroundWaterML) Open Geospatial Consortium data exchange standards, he has applied the methodologies to the mineral resources, soil, marine, gazetteer, water quality, native vegetation, and electricity and water utility domains. In addition to the challenges of harmonising and delivering different data structures (schematic interoperability) and different content (semantic interoperability) these standards help address, there is the additional challenge of seamlessly integrating the different schematic and semantic data management technologies.

Bruce joined CeRDI in 2017 with the aim to help ensure natural resource management data, information and knowledge is globally available to researchers, government agencies, municipalities and the public, while minimising the overheads to data providers.

Call: 03 5327 6596

Rick Pope

Research Associate: Rick Pope

Rick has been associated with Federation University since 2000 and has been a lecturer during that time. He has been in collaboration with CeRDI since 2015 and has previously worked with the state government in many roles from 1972 to 2019. Rick completed a Graduate Diploma in Land Rehabilitation in 1998 at the University of Ballarat. Rick has extensive expertise in Geographic Information Systems and GPS and has worked with these technologies since their first appearance in Victoria. Rick has been the developer of many applications, some being turn key GIS applications for ESSO Australia, Keep Australia Beautiful and the Woady Yaloak Catchment Group. Rick has a close working relationship with local government, the spatial industry as well as Landcare networks in Victoria, Queensland and Western Australia. In his previous role in government and as a volunteer, Rick has proven skills in engaging stakeholders, collaboration and project management. In work with CeRDI, Rick has been involved with CMA Flood Portal development, Water Bugs website, Woady Yaloak 3CA pilot project and many others.



Robert Milne

Project Manager: Robert Milne

Rob has worked in the natural resource management and environmental science fields since 1997. Rob worked on a wide range of environmental research and consultancy projects as an Environmental Scientist for Federation University's Centre for Environmental Management. Rob joined CeRDI in 2013 and has worked on a range of knowledge management and spatial applications in the agricultural and natural resource management sectors. Rob completed a Bachelor of Applied Science in Environmental Management at Ballarat University College in 1992 and worked for five years as a partner in the family farming business at Cavendish, Victoria. Rob has extensive experience in working with industry, all levels of government and community organisations on a wide range of natural resource management issues. Rob has developed specialist skills in Geographic Information Systems and data management.

Call: 03 5327 9488

Jennifer Corbett

Research Coordinator: Jennifer Corbett

Jennifer commenced working at CeRDI in 2009 while completing a Bachelor of Management (Honours) at the University of Ballarat. Her honours thesis explored Generation Y consumers' motives for consenting to receive e-marketing communications. She is skilled in a range of eResearch data collection, analysis and reporting tools which she uses to provide support to CeRDI researchers across a range of research projects.

Call: 03 5327 9369

Gabi Ceregra

Data Policy Manager : Gabi Ceregra

Gabi is a Data Policy Manager, developing best practice data management policies for the Food Agility CRC and NFF project.

She brings with her experience in data management across health, financial services, and government. Managing small and large scale data projects and operational data governance teams has provided her with insight into how data is created, managed, and used across global organisations, and the risk management and regulatory requirements that need to be considered to create sustainable and scalable data eco-systems.

Gabriela holds a Bachelor of Commerce in Economics and Management (Hons) from Victoria University of Wellington, is a PMBOK certified Project Management Professional (PMP) and a certified Agile Scrum Master.


Research Officer: Kate Light

Kate is a specialist in breeding canola with disease (blackleg) resistance. In CeRDI she is working on the Online Final Reports and Online Farm Trials projects.


Dr Angela Neyland

Research Officer: Dr Angela Neyland

Angela completed a PhD on the geo-archaeology of central Australian Aboriginal prehistoric stone technology and landscapes at The Australian National University. Her undergraduate studies and honours degrees are in geology and archaeology from The University of Queensland. She has worked as a heritage consultant and senior archaeologist in South Australia, Western Australia and Victoria and in the area of environmental sustainability and community engagement for local government.

Angela joined CeRDI in 2017 and is assisting on a range of projects in natural resource management, agriculture and heritage. Angela brings specialist skills in geographic information systems and a passion for environmental sustainability, heritage and multidisciplinary research.

Call: 03 5327 6162

Jude Channon

Research Officer: Jude Channon

Jude worked as a Research Officer with CeRDI in 2017 and in 2019 returned to CeRDI after taking time out to implement a large scale healthcare project across regional Victoria. Jude has a Masters in Education from RMIT University where her research focussed on youth and community development in South Africa.

Call: 03 5327 9672


Andrew MacLeod

Manager Technical Projects: Andrew MacLeod

Andrew is the Manager, Technical Projects at CeRDI.  Andrew completed a Bachelor of Computing at the University of Ballarat, followed by an Honors in Applied Science (Information Technology). Employed at CeRDI since 1999 and leading the technical team since 2002, Andrew has extensive experience in web and geospatial technologies with a particular interest in data standards and interoperability applied in projects such as Visualising Victorias Groundwater (VVG) and Visualising Australasia's Soils (VAS). While much of his work is applied within Australia, Andrew has been an active participant in several Open Geospatial Consortium (OGC) domain working groups, standards working groups and interoperability experiments across Soils, Groundwater and Environmental data. Currently enrolled as a PhD candidate supported by the Food Agility Cooperative Research Centre, focused on the application of semantic interoperability within Agriculture and Food.  

Andrew commenced his PhD with CeRDI in June 2021.

Call: 03 5327 9315

Paul Feely

Senior Systems Analyst Programmer: Paul Feely

Paul joined CeRDI in 2003 and has over 10 years' experience in both front end and back end development utilising various open source technologies. Recent major projects as a lead developer include Waterwatch Victoria, EstuaryWatch Victoria, Online Farm Trials and Sport and Recreation Spatial. Paul completed his Bachelor of Computing/Bachelor of Commerce at the University of Ballarat in 2001, and completed his Honours in Computing during 2003 while working part-time with CeRDI.

Call: 03 5327 6157

Scott Limmer

Senior Technical Lead: Scott Limmer

Scott has over 15 years experience designing, developing and supporting research applications and decision support systems. As Senior Technical Lead, Scott is responsible for designing and maintaining CeRDI’s technical infrastructure, evaluating and implementing open-source solutions, providing guidance on solution design, and developing solutions for flagship CeRDI projects.

Prior to his current project leading the modernisation of CeRDI’s hosting infrastructure, Scott led projects including:

Call: 03 5327 6231

Heath Gillett

Senior Programmer: Heath Gillett

Heath joined CeRDI in 2009. After receiving a full-time scholarship, he completed a Bachelor of Computing at the University of Ballarat in 1999. After three years working on application development and support for a multi-national company based in Melbourne, he returned to Ballarat to provide IT support at Telstra. Heath has experience in the design, programming, implementation and support of various IT systems.

Call: 03 5327 9362

Systems Analyst Programmer: Richard Archer

Richard has studied Computer Science at The University of Melbourne and Federation University, Horticulture at Federation University and completed a Permaculture Design course with Bill Mollison. His applied experience is extensive and includes stakeholder engagement, requirements gathering, project management, programming, server administration, and excellent written, interpersonal and communication skills.


Senior Systems Analyst Programmer: Michael Brown

Michael joined CeRDI in 2022. A former Bachelor of Computing graduate at the University of Ballarat in 2000, Michael went on to a career in web application development, Network support and server SRE operations. He has worked in a diverse range of industries including email/network security orgs, web/eCommerce digital agencies and real estate technology startups.


Sudeera Abeywickrema

Web Developer/Programmer: Sudeera Abeywickrema

Sudeera joined the CeRDI team as a Web Developer in 2013. Prior to joining CeRDI, Sudeera worked as the web administrator of the University of Colombo in Sri Lanka. During his career he has gathered invaluable skills in web development and implementing web based tools for academic activities. Sudeera completed his Bachelor of Information Technology at the University of Colombo in 2008.

Call: 03 5327 6840

Chris Bahlo

Research Associate: Dr Chris Bahlo

Chris completed her PhD with CeRDI in 2021 as part of the Regional Universities Network Precision Agriculture Flagship. Her research is on data interoperability in precision agriculture. She has an honours degree in Information Technology, a Business degree and a diploma in Agricultural Science. Chris has previously worked in information technology, agriculture and business roles. In 2021 Chris joined the CeRDI tech team on the server migration project.


Web Developer/Programmer: Rahul Sinha

Rahul joined the CeRDI team as a Web Developer in 2021. Prior to joining CeRDI, Rahul worked as a software developer in a US based software company. Rahul has developed software applications in domains like Retail, Automobile, and Education. He has experience with various front, back-end technologies, and their trade-offs. Rahul completed master’s in information and technology at Swinburne University in 2020 from Melbourne.


Craig Briody

Web Developer: Craig Briody

Craig joined CeRDI in 2002. Prior to joining CeRDI, Craig worked in a Melbourne-based software company gaining valuable practical experience in the ICT sector. Craig works in the development and implementation of web-based projects as well as having experience in the development and delivery of client training programs. Craig completed a Bachelor of Computing at the University of Ballarat in 1999.

Call: 03 5327 9319


Kathy Gamble

Administration Support Officer: Kathy Gamble

Kathy joined CeRDI in 2013 after 5 years working at Federation University's Business School. Prior to joining Federation University, Kathy worked as an art teacher and has a Diploma of Fine Art and a Graduate Diploma of Education. Kathy assists the CeRDI team with administrative support across various projects as well as being the personal assistant to the Centre Director.

Call: 03 5327 9403


Dr. Azadeh Noori Hoshyar

Associate: Dr. Azadeh Noori Hoshyar

Dr. Azadeh Noori Hoshyar is a lecturer in information technology at Federation University Australia. Prior to that, Dr. Azadeh was a postdoctoral research fellow at Bond University, and received her PhD from Western Sydney University (WSU) in 2019. Dr. Azadeh has a Master’s degree in engineering from the University of Technology, Sydney (UTS) and a Master’s in information technology (computer science) from the National University of Malaysia. Dr. Azadeh research expertise includes artificial intelligence, image processing, and signal processing. Dr. Azadeh has worked on several AI-based projects in different real-world applications. Dr. Azadeh has published widely in high-ranking peer-reviewed journals and at international conferences.  

Dr. Azadeh is currently working on the project to detect and classify defects on mining structures using deep learning technique.  

Dr. Azadeh has received different awards and grants including; Women in STEM Researcher of the Year Award 2020, RSP funding, and $50,000 funding from industry.

Dr. Azadeh is a member of the Australian Computer Society, Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers, Australian Network of Structural Health Monitoring and IHM Lab (Western Sydney School of Engineering).


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