November 11, 2019

Tim Moltmann, outgoing Director of the Integrated Marine Observing System (IMOS), has long championed national and international collaboration in marine observation and the provision of open access data. IMOS is integral to many Marine Biodiversity Hub projects, including enabling ground-breaking population estimates for white sharks and grey nurse sharks. The new director of IMOS is former Hub theme leader Michelle Heupel. The following article is reproduced from the IMOS website.

The IMOS community bids farewell to Tim Moltmann, who has been the IMOS Director since 2009.

Tim has been Director of IMOS for ten years, and before that he worked at CSIRO for over a decade, rising to be Deputy Chief of the Marine & Atmospheric Research Division.  He has a particular interest in research infrastructure, and has played a lead role in major national projects relating to large research vessels, observing systems, and national marine information infrastructure. 

Tim’s national roles have included being Chair of Australia’s National Marine Science Committee, Co-Chair of Australia’s Forum for Operational Oceanography, and a member of national committees on Marine Biodiversity research, Climate Change research, Environmental Information, and integrated monitoring and reporting for the Great Barrier Reef. 

His international roles during his time as the IMOS Director have included being a member of the Global Ocean Observing System (GOOS) Regional Alliance Council, and contributing as an invited expert to the planning and review of marine research infrastructure programs in Canada, the USA, Brazil, Singapore and France.

“On behalf of the IMOS Governing Board, and I’m sure the community in general, I’d like to extend my thanks and congratulations on a fantastic term as the IMOS Director,” says John Gunn, chair of the IMOS Governing Board. 

“After a decade leading IMOS and contributing to the global ocean observing mission, you leave an enormous legacy. The successes have no doubt been hard won, requiring all of your considerable talents, commitment and patience. We wish you well in whatever the future holds and hope you’ll stay connected to the Australian Marine Community in some way.”

Of course, the last word must go to the outgoing Director, Tim writes to the IMOS community below.

I’ve now completed my handover to Michelle Heupel as IMOS Director. It’s time to say farewell and thanks to all of you.

We can be very proud of what we’ve achieved together over fourteen years to date.

The National Collaborative Research Infrastructure Strategy (NCRIS) that funds IMOS is a wonderful Australian Government program. That said, NCRIS can’t realise it’s potential if research communities do not come together and genuinely collaborate to create the national infrastructure we all need but can’t create alone.

The Australian marine science community has fully embraced the NCRIS model. We’ve been rewarded through significant and ongoing investment in IMOS. This is a winning proposition. Respect it, value it, and build on it.

Having been the IMOS Director for over a decade, there are many, many people to thank and farewell – literally hundreds of you. I hope you can all see yourselves in what follows.

My predecessor, Dr Gary Meyers, made a seminal contribution as the foundation Director of IMOS. I’m sure he rests in peace, proud of how you’re implementing the IMOS vision.

Jo Neilson and Marian Wiltshire have been with the IMOS Office from inception. Their contributions run very deep. Donna Harris, Emma Sommerville and Ana Lara-Lopez have played significant roles over many years. Indi Hodgson-Johnston joined us two years ago and has quickly grown into an Assistant Director role. More recently, Chloe Bibari (covering Emma’s maternity leave) and Jake Wallis have come on board. Others came before them. These are the people I’ve worked with on a daily basis. They’re the ones I want to thank first and foremost.

Since late 2010, the IMOS Office and Australian Ocean Data Network (AODN) teams have been co-located at UTAS, and I’ve appreciated the opportunity to interact with AODN staff on a regular basis. In my view it’s all about the data, and our ability to discover, access, use and reuse it. Roger Proctor led the AODN with distinction for over a decade, taking it from a ‘good idea’ to a robust and world-leading marine information infrastructure.  Sebastien Mancini has stepped up to lead the next stage of AODN development. Many talented software engineers and data scientists have worked on this team during my time as IMOS Director. Jacqui Hope and Kate Reid have played particularly important roles in keeping the AODN team together.

Large, long-running programs stand or fall on the quality of their governance. IMOS has been blessed with great leadership from the get-go. I’ve had the honour to work with three Independent Board Chairs. Trevor Powell facilitated development of the initial IMOS investment plan and became our inaugural Board Chair (2007-11). He was followed by Ian Poiner (2011-18). John Gunn took up the role in late 2018. Many senior people within Australia’s national innovation system have made time to sit on the IMOS Board, and their experience, knowledge and wisdom have helped to make us strong. I thank them all for their advice and guidance

IMOS is a national program, but national programs need a home base. The University of Tasmania (UTAS) has provided this bedrock for IMOS, with financial support from the Tasmanian Government Department of State Growth. Successive UTAS Deputy Vice Chancellors Research have unerringly supported hosting of IMOS@UTAS. UTAS legal, finance, human resources and other administrative staff have been super supportive in making the IMOS national collaboration work from its home base at UTAS. Thanks to all of them.

IMOS would not exist without NCRIS funding from Australian Government. Over the years I’ve had the pleasure to interact with many staff in the Department of Education (and its predecessors). They’ve all worked diligently to keep the NCRIS program going, through thick and thin. It’s exciting to be handing over to Michelle in the knowledge that NCRIS has a long-term future. And that subject to ongoing performance and future national priorities, commitment to NCRIS presents an opportunity for IMOS to be sustained long-term. Our colleagues in Canberra are the ones who’ve created this opportunity for us all.

I’d also like to thank the Directors and staff of other NCRIS facilities that IMOS has worked with over the years. The support of this peer group has been enormously valuable.

IMOS Facilities and Sub-Facilities are the ‘engine room’ of the program. Their leaders are key people in our national system, and there’s been remarkable stability in facility leadership over the life of the program. The many research project staff, technicians, and engineers who’ve worked within IMOS facilities are people I’d particularly like to thank. They’re the ones who go to sea to deploy and recover the equipment and take the samples. They’re the ones who undertake the analyses back in the lab and quality control the data. Without them we wouldn’t have an IMOS. I salute you, one and all.

These facilities have required organisational homes, and the management, finance, and legal staff at our operating institutions have always been very willing to work with the IMOS Office to keep the program running. Their cooperation has been much appreciated.

A large number of people from around Australia have contributed to science planning and implementation through IMOS Nodes. The strong scientific underpinning you’ve provided for the program has been critical to our success. Involvement in Node activities has always been voluntary, and the quantity and quality of effort provided speaks volumes for the commitment of Australian marine and climate scientists to the IMOS vision. I thank all of you who have contributed.

As a research infrastructure, IMOS needs research partners to take up and use our observations and data if we are to have impact. Over the years, many senior people involved in running research programs, hubs, centres, networks, institutes and organisations have been willing to listen, engage, and ultimately support IMOS in its mission. As IMOS Director I have been welcomed onto many committees and worked with many excellent people.

The ocean is a globally connected system, and international collaboration is key. Australia benefits enormously from the ocean observing efforts of other countries and the data they make openly available to us. Through investment in IMOS, Australia is pulling its weight and giving back to the international community. I’ve learnt a great deal from colleagues overseas and would like to thank a few in particular. Zdenka Willis and Carl Gouldman from NOAA’s Integrated Ocean Observing System (IOOS). David Legler from NOAA’s Ocean Observing and Monitoring Division. Glenn Nolan from the European Global Ocean Observing System (EuroGOOS). And Albert Fischer and staff from the Global Ocean Observing System (GOOS) Secretariat. Many conversations we’ve shared over the years have helped to make the job of IMOS Director feel much less daunting.

In closing, I’d like to say that it’s been a privilege to be associated with all of you over the last decade. IMOS the program presented me with an amazing leadership opportunity, and you, the people I’ve worked with, have provided an amazing experience. Good luck for the future.

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