Goyder Institute announces new Director

Dr Alec Rolston, Director, Goyder Institute for Water Research

Dr Alec Rolston has been appointed Director of the Goyder Institute for Water Research. The Institute’s Management Board made this appointment after a wide national search for candidates.

Dr Rolston has wide experience in water research and management in both Australia and Ireland. Working at the research-policy interface has been a core function of his work over the past 15 years, ensuring that management decision-making is supported by the best available knowledge.

Dr Rolston said: “I am excited by the opportunity presented through the role of Director of the Institute and look forward to guiding the Institute forward over the next three years, and to securing the future of the Institute for a new fourth term beyond 2026.

In commenting on the appointment, Professor Barry Hart, Independent Chair of the Goyder Institute,  said “I have worked closely with Alec over the past 3 years, and particularly over the last six months while he has been in the role of Interim Director of the Institute. He is a very competent project manager, an extremely talented negotiator and a very effective leader of people. I am sure he will provide the enthusiasm and strategic leadership to continue building the excellence and reputation of the Goyder Institute over the next three years.

Dr Rolston joined the Goyder Institute in January 2021 as Research Program Manager during which time he delivered the Institute’s largest ever research program: the $7.8 million Healthy Coorong, Healthy Basin Trials and Investigations Program, the excellence of which was recently recognised through its receipt of the national Australian Water Association Award for R&D Excellence.

For the last six months, Alec has led the Institute as Interim Director following the departure of the previous Director, Dr Kane Aldridge, and previously acted as Director while Dr Aldridge took long service leave in 2021.

Since becoming Interim Director in January 2023, Alec has been extremely active in securing the extension of the third term of the Goyder Institute (July 2023 – June 2026); negotiating and engaging with the Australian Government to secure $8 million funding for the Institute to deliver a regional research hub for the Coorong, Lower Lakes and Murray Mouth region; leading the design and development of a research program to assess the environmental response to the recent River Murray floods; organising and running a multi-state forum in Alice Springs (funded by the National Water Grid Authority) to identify solutions to water security for First Nations remote communities; and securing a number of other research projects with Institute partners.

Prior to joining the Goyder Institute, Alec was employed as Research Lead for An Fóram Uisce (The Water Forum), Ireland’s only statutory body providing guidance to the national Minister on water related matters ranging from River Basin Management Planning through to drinking water utility management, rural drinking water supply, public engagement in water matters and stakeholder engagement to address complex water challenges.

During Alec’s earlier career, he was located in South Australia, initially working as a postdoctoral researcher at Flinders University before joining the South Australian Government in 2009 as Coordinator, Ecological Investigations for the Coorong, Lower Lakes and Murray Mouth region.

Professor Hart concluded: “As Independent Chair of the Goyder Institute, and on behalf of the Management Board, Research Advisory Committee and the Institute’s partner organisations, we wish Alec well in the role and look forward to his leadership and working with him over the coming years.”


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