Our People | Fight Food Waste CRC
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Board Members


John Webster is the inaugural Independent Chair of the Fight Food Waste Cooperative Research Centre and was integral to the success of the bid. He has provided leadership throughout the bidding and FFW CRC establishment process and has kept a strong focus on industry impacts and good governance. John has extensive experience in issues surrounding both food waste and management of complex industry/research collaborations. His expertise includes strategy, governance, leadership, performance measurement, R&D project management, business and commercialisation in the food, agribusiness and food waste sectors.

John is a former CEO of Foodbank Australia, MD of Horticulture Australia, and GM of Meat & Livestock Australia. He is currently a Director of AgStrat Associates and Council Member of the International Meat Research 3G Foundation. His qualifications include a degree in Economics and he is a Graduate Member of the Australian Institute of Company Directors.

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Toine Timmermans is a global leader in food waste management and the FFW CRC’s key connection to international food waste initiatives. He was an integral component of the successful bid, as remarked by the CRC Advisory Committee, and has since been indispensable to the establishment of the R&D portfolio. He is active globally in creating impact on food waste prevention via research, innovation and establishing partnerships.

Toine is currently the Program Manager of Sustainable Food Chains at Wageningen University & Research in The Netherlands, the Coordinator of the European Union food waste project REFRESH, and the Managing Director of the Foundation United Against Food Waste. The overall aim of the REFRESH project is to halve food loss and food waste across the post-harvest supply chain. His qualifications include an MSc in Agricultural Engineering and post-graduate studies in Business Strategy.

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SANDRA HOOK – AGSM Management courses, GAICD.

Sandra has a track record in driving customer-centred business transformation and transitioning traditional organisations in rapidly evolving environments.  She has extensive operational, digital, financial management and strategic experience built over 25 years as a CEO and in senior executive roles for some of Australia’s largest media companies including News Limited, Foxtel, Federal Publishing Company, Murdoch Magazines and Fairfax.

Ms Hook holds directorships of other companies including: RXP Services (ASX:RXP), MedAdvisor Limited (ASX:MDR), IVE Group Limited (ASX:IGL), Sydney Fish Markets, WYZA Limited, Royal Botanic Gardens and Sydney Harbour Federation Trust.

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Geoff Starr has a wealth of experience in international branded foods and is a well-known figure in Australia’s agriculture and food industry.

Geoff has worked for Unilever, been CEO for Mars Inc. companies internationally and George Weston foods. He has run very large businesses and also enjoyed the  involvement in smaller enterprises.

Geoff was chair of the Australian Food and Grocery Council, Australia’s first industry advocate to government, and is a director of Foodbank, Australian Pork Ltd, Food Innovation Australia Ltd, Birch & Waite foods and chair of Cannpal Therapeutics.

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Robbie has business experience in both the private and public sectors domestically and internationally as a CEO and Director.  She is also a primary producer (beef cattle) in the upper south east of South Australia.  She has an intimate understanding of agricultural production systems, particularly sustainable whole of industry value chains from the paddock to the end-consumer. Following almost ten years living and working in Southeast Asia (Singapore, Indonesia, Brunei), she was self-employed as an agribusiness consultant until her appointment as CEO of Potatoes South Australia in 2012. With food security, food safety and reduction of food waste among issues of predominant importance to her, Robbie aims to participate in the re-positioning of Australian agribusiness as the nation’s most significant industry.

She was profiled under PIRSA’s Women Influencing Agriculture and Regions in 2015 and is the RIRDC 2016 SA Rural Woman of the Year. Robbie has a Bachelor of Agricultural Science, University of Adelaide (BAgSc), a Master of Business Administration, University of Adelaide (MBA), and is a Graduate Australian Institute of Company Directors (GAICD).

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Christine has had over 25 years’ experience in Australia’s food technology and processing and health and wellness sectors, with a demonstrated history of transforming businesses and driving sales growth/profitability. Previous positions include Chief Operating Officer at Nature’s Care, Australia’s third largest vitamins company, Managing Director of Naturex Australia, the world’s largest processor of herbal and botanical extracts, and Managing Director of Kingfoods Australia (now KF Specialty Ingredients).

Christine holds a Bachelor of Applied Science in food and nutrition and she is a Graduate Member of the Australian Institute of Company Directors (AICD). She is also a Professional Member of the Australian Institute of Food Science and Technology (AIFST) and a member of Complimentary

Medicines Australia.

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Alain Pillay is the managing director of Nexus Strategem Pty Ltd, a boutique financial and economic advisory firm specialising in corporate strategy and M&A. Since 2011 Nexus has been involved in acquisitions across the sugar, beef, port and technology sectors.

Prior to establishing Nexus, Alain was the Queensland state lead partner for Deloitte’s economics and strategy unit and was responsible for establishing and building the practice into one of the largest economic groups in Queensland. A member of Deloitte’s young leaders group and a member of Deloitte economics executive team, Alain worked extensively across Asia, Middle East and America.

Alain has a strong investment network both domestically and internationally and has experience in corporate governance as a company secretary of a listed company. Alain is tertiary qualified in both accounting and economics and is a member of the Australian CPA’s, Institute of Company Directors and Chartered Secretaries of Australia.

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Download our organisational structure for more information on our people.

Delivery Team


Dr Steven Lapidge (Adelaide)

Dr Steven Lapidge is the inaugural CEO of the Fight Food Waste Cooperative Research Centre (CRC). He has spent much of his 20-year career working for or with agricultural and environmental CRC’s, with a strong focus on new product development, commercialisation, extension and adoption. Steven led the development of the Fight Food Waste CRC bid when working for the South Australian Research & Development Institute, a division of Primary Industries & Regions South Australia. In recent years he has represented Australia at G20, OECD, Vatican and other international and national food waste forums. He is a member of the G20 Meeting of Agricultural Chief Scientists (MACS) Food Loss/Waste Working Group, the National Food Waste Strategy Steering Committee and a Professional Member and former Non-Executive Director of the Australian Institute of Food Science and Technology.

Steven’s qualifications include a BSc(Hons)(Flinders Uni), PhD (Sydney Uni) and an MBA (Uni SA). He is a graduate of the Australian Institute of Company Directors, European Summer School for Advanced Management (Aarhus Uni, Denmark), Golden Key International Honour Society and a Fulbright Professional Business/Industry Fellow.

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Ian Hardwick (Adelaide)

Ian joined FFW CRC in February 2019 after having spent nearly eight years as CFO of Deep Exploration Technologies CRC which was wound up in late 2018 at the end of its funding life having successfully licensed a number of new technologies to the mineral exploration services sector.  Prior to that role, Ian worked within an accounting firm providing business advisory and compliance services across a range of industries.  Ian is a Commerce graduate, Chartered Accountant and Graduate of the Australian Institute of Company Directors.

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Special Advisor - Food Waste

Mark Barthel (Brisbane)

Mark joined the FFW CRC team in July 2019. Mark is a highly motivated and experienced business and sustainability professional with strong leadership, communications and negotiating skills and a successful 25-year track record of driving sustainable innovation in agri-food; and supporting the development and implementation of sustainable food systems. This includes over 15 years’ experience in quantifying and preventing food loss and waste in the UK, Europe, North and South America, Africa and Australia. This body of work has involved: developing the international evidence base for food loss and waste; national baseline development (volumetric, compositional and behavioural); strategy development and the annual tracking of progress at corporate, sectoral and national levels; establishing world-leading public/private sector voluntary agreements to reduce food waste, redistribute surplus food to those in need and support food waste valorisation; running award winning consumer-facing behaviour change campaigns; and implementing over 50 research and innovation projects with food and drink companies and their trade bodies. Marks qualifications include a BSc (Hons) in Environmental Science and an MSc in Integrated Environmental Studies. Before working on environmental and sustainability issues, Mark’s roots were in the international finance: covering foreign exchange and commodities markets and fraud and anti-fraud programs.

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Research Director

Prof Vincent Bulone (Uni of Adelaide)

Professor Vincent Bulone is the Director of Adelaide Glycomics, an analytical centre for complex carbohydrates, and Director of the Research Consortium Program for Agricultural Product Development supported by the South Australia Department for Industry and Skills. Vincent was also Director of the ARC Centre of Excellence in Plant Cell Walls until June 2018. His activities comprise fundamental research on plants and microorganisms as well as applied research in green chemistry and biotechnology for the development of products derived from carbohydrate polymers and other biomolecules. Vincent’s R&D activities are relevant to multiple sectors, including Agriculture and Waste Management; Biomaterials; Biorefinery; Bioenergy; Food Sustainability; and Disease Control. Prior to his recruitment in Adelaide in 2015, Vincent was Director of the Centre for Biomimetic Fibre Engineering and The Advanced Carbohydrate Materials Consortium in Stockholm, Sweden. He is the founder of the spin-out company CarbOzide Pty Ltd, which exploits his invention on UV protective materials based on carbohydrates and natural molecular sunscreens from algae

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Program Leader - REDUCE

A/Prof Karli Verghese (RMIT Uni, Melbourne)

Karli is the REDUCE Program Leader in the Fight Food Waste Cooperative Research Centre. She is also a Principal Research Fellow in the Industrial Design program of the School of Design, RMIT University, Melbourne.

Karli is predominantly involved in designing, developing and leading industry applied and government funded research projects in the fields of food waste, packaging sustainability, waste management and life cycle assessment. She also supervisors Honours, Masters and PhD students and teaches into the Industrial Design program. 

Her research projects have included the development of decision support tools for packaging, resource efficiency, food waste, eco-design and one currently being developed for Australia’s Antarctic research station (Casey). Karli is also a Fellow of the Australian Institute of Packaging.

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Program Leader - ENGAGE

Prof David Pearson (Central Qld Uni, Sydney)

Professor David Pearson is the ENGAGE Program Leader in the Fight Food Waste Cooperative Research Centre. The Engage Program is responsible for educating over 40 future industry professionals with PhD or Master level qualifications, disseminating research outputs through an Industry Training Hub, and encouraging behaviour changes amongst consumers to reduce the amount of food wasted.
David Pearson’s research expertise is in leading multidisciplinary collaborations addressing issues of concern in society. Most recently this has focused on encouraging consumers to make considered choices, such as dietary options to improve personal health and contribute to a more environmentally sustainable global food system.

In addition, he has considerable leadership achievements in tertiary education as well as significant engagements with industry, government and charity sectors. He is a Professor of Marketing in the School of Business and Law, and the Appleton Institute, at the Sydney campus of Central Queensland University.

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Program Leader - TRANSFORM

Dr Paul Luckman (Uni of Qld, Brisbane)

Dr Luckman is a Chemical Engineer from the University of Queensland, with a Masters in Biological Engineering and a PhD in Biomaterials Engineering. Throughout his career, he has developed a specialisation in bio-polymer process engineering technologies and materials. Dr Luckman has worked on the boundary between academia and industry with a range of companies from start-ups to several of the world’s largest users and manufactures of biopolymers to develop product solutions for a range industry sectors such as packaging, agriculture, mining, and food.

His research career to date has been entirely collaboratively funded through industry-linked projects that have relied on close relationships with industry partners, including ARC-Linkages, Advance Queensland Innovation Partnerships, and is currently an Advance Queensland Research Fellow. Through these projects, he has provided valuable research and teaching opportunities to Universities while maintaining on-going support to industry partners; improved processing methods and delivered novel products to market.

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Theme Leader - Food Safety and Integrity

Dr Valeria Torok (PIRSA-SARDI, Adelaide)

Dr. Valeria Torok is the Fight Food Waste CRC Food Safety and Integrity Theme Leader. She is also the Food Microbiology Sub-Program Leader with the South Australian Research and Development Institute (SARDI), Food Sciences Group based at the Waite Campus in Adelaide.  Dr. Torok has a keen interest in food safety research, functional foods and the role of gut microbiota in livestock production and gut health.  She also has product development interests in the creation of novel, rapid and sensitive diagnostics for foodborne hazards and foodborne virology. Her team has been instrumental in providing Australian capability for foodborne virus testing in foods implicated in recent foodborne outbreaks. Within the FFW CRC Valeria will ensure that any ingredient, food or packaging products developed demonstrate the upmost food safety and integrity.

During her 20 year career Dr. Torok has worked closely with both industry and regulatory bodies, and has formed multidisciplinary scientific collaborations both nationally and internationally. Her qualifications include a BSc(Hons) and PhD.

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Program Coordinator - REDUCE

Leisha Ryding (RMIT Uni, Melbourne)

Leisha is the REDUCE Program Coordinator in the Fight Food Waste Cooperative Research Centre. Leisha has more than 10 years senior management experience driving change and social impact in education and non-profit/for purpose organisations. Her experience spans all aspects of strategic and operational management, with particular expertise in building capability. Leisha has post graduate qualifications in education and counselling and is currently completing a Master in Food Systems and Gastronomy. Leisha brings her passion for fair and sustainable food systems to her role at the CRC.

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Program Coordinator - ENGAGE

Alex Guest (Central Qld Uni, Sydney)

Alex brings almost 20 years of work-life experience from a range of positions in the sport and recreation sector as the Program Coordinator for the ENGAGE Program. Alex is an experienced and enthusiastic organiser, administrator, manager and strategist with a passion for project development. In past roles, Alex has developed and managed a national women’s riding program, implemented community travel behaviour change initiatives, worked with tertiary students to develop industry recognised skills/qualifications and hosted a range of local, state and national events and programs.

When she isn’t fulfilling her part-time duties as a Program Coordinator, Alex is a Mum to two busy young boys and enjoys writing poetry and children’s stories, drinking good coffee, reducing the plastic bag drawer to “zero bags” and teaching her boys the joy of outside, including feeding the worm farm, exploring the local bush and learning to ride bikes.

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Program Coordinator - TRANSFORM

Meagan Wheeler-Rogers (Uni of Qld, Brisbane)

Meagan has ten years’ experience working with the waste and resource recovery industry and twelve years’ experience in communications. Meagan is passionate about waste reduction, and holds a diverse range of skills in environmental and commercial systems relating to waste. In particular, Meagan has a strong understanding of how these systems interact, how we can measure impacts, and what methods can be employed to influence them.

Noteworthy projects that Meagan has been involved in include plastic bag bans across three states, the Queensland Government Plastic Pollution Reduction Plan, review of marketing campaigns to reduce the contamination in kerbside bins, and South Australian Recycling Activity Reports.

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Deputy Program Leader - TRANSFORM

Professor Peter Halley (Uni of Qld, Brisbane)

Peter Halley is a Professor in chemical engineering at the University of Queensland (UQ) and from 2014 to 2019 he was also the Head of School of UQ chemical engineering. Peter works in polymer engineering and processing research at the translational research interface between university and industry. Specifically, his research involves rheology, processing and product design of bio-based materials, polymers and nanocomposite materials for agrifood, biomedical and high-value manufacturing sectors. He has worked in industry (SRI international, Sola Optical, Moldflow), has worked in three cooperative research centres (CRCs in polymers, food manufacture and packaging science, sugar innovation), has acquired and managed continuous government and industry research projects since 1994, and was heavily involved in the spinoff of Plantic Technologies (starch polymers).

Peter has affiliate positions in the Australian Institute for Bioengineering and Nanotechnology and the Queensland Advanced Materials Processing and Manufacturing Centre at UQ. Peter is a fellow of the Institute of Chemical Engineers (IChemE) and a fellow of the Royal Australian Chemical Institute. Peter is on the editorial board of the Plastics, Rubbers and Composites, Starch, the Journal of Renewable Materials and Green Polymers. He won IChemE Shedden Uhde Award and Prize for Excellence in Chemical Engineering (2004), the CRC Sugar Innovation Award (2008), the CRC Polymers Chairman’s Award for research and commercialisation (2011), and has received the CRC Association Technology Transfer Award in 2002 and 2015.

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Tanya Wilkins (Adelaide)

As a promoter of genuine communication and engagement, Tanya is an advocate for the experts in these new days of ‘google-fuelled online warriors’. Tanya was previously the communication lead for an adaptation and resilience knowledge exchange network based out of the Environmental Change Institute at the University of Oxford. One of her more innovative communication projects from this time was a climate change murder/mystery game.

Tanya is working towards her science communication PhD with the Australian National Centre for the Public Awareness of Science at Australian National University, investigating the role of storytelling in food waste and climate change communication. @wiltm001

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Research Systems Administrator

Dr Melanie Hand (UoA, Adelaide)

Melanie brings to the FFW CRC her love of data, and experience in supporting the implementation and operation of IT systems. Her previous role within the University of Adelaide was supporting the Career and Research Skills Training program; a specialised training and development program for PhD students. Melanie is PhD trained in the area of plant molecular genetics, and was a student of the Dairy Futures CRC. Prior to moving into research administration, Melanie worked for the state government of Victoria and CSIRO on industry and philanthropy funded research projects.

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Carolyn Eggart (Adelaide)

Carolyn previously worked for OzHarvest for five years where she undertook a variety of roles, including driving the vans and seeing first-hand the enormity of the food waste issue. Carolyn also managed the charity partnership with Clipsal 500 where she managed an event with 20 of the top chefs of Adelaide who helped create 500 meals for people in need using rescued food. Most recently, she was in a business development role to increase food rescue with major supermarkets by educating them on food waste and the positive impact they can have on people in need and also the environment.

Prior to working with OzHarvest, Carolyn worked in advertising and events and has been known to be a bit of a ‘Jill of all Trades!’.

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Research Coordinator

David Mathew (UoA, Adelaide)

David is the FFW CRC Research Coordinator supporting the Research Director. He brings experience from many areas of operational research management and support, including finance and budgeting, business systems development, policy and compliance, and laboratory and resource management. He aims to collaborate effectively with and for senior academics and researchers across a range of internal and external stakeholder requirements to facilitate obligations and outcomes for industry participants.

In addition to David’s part-time contribution to the FFW CRC, he is also part-time Chief Operating Officer (COO) to the SA Government funded Research Consortium for Agricultural Product Development and Business Manager of Adelaide Glycomics, a University of Adelaide analytical platform. Prior to his current roles David was COO for the ARC Centre of Excellence in Plant Cell Walls, based at the University of Adelaide.

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