Keynote Speakers

Bernie Cockayne

Reef Catchments

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In his role as Program Manager, Bernie is responsible for the leadership and management of the Reef Catchments project teams. Bernie has a Bachelor of Environmental Science and Ecology (Hons) and has considerable experience in project and team management in the scientific and natural resources sector. Before joining Reef Catchments, Bernie spent over 15 years working for the Queensland government as a Manager and Senior Scientist (Aquatic Ecology), delivering a range of primarily aquatic ecosystem research projects that covered central and western parts of Qld. Bernie has also previously worked across eastern Australia for the NSW government, research organisations and environmental consultants.

Karen Johnston


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Karen Johnston is a Principal Hydrogeologist, specialising in Managed Aquifer Recharge (MAR), having completed a Master of Hydrogeology with CSIRO back in the mid 1990’s researching stormwater aquifer storage and recovery systems in South Australia. Early in her career she worked closely with the Water Corporation of Western Australia on MAR investigations throughout that State, and was a significant contributor to the development of Australia’s largest water recycling system, the Beenyup Groundwater Replenishment Scheme. In her consulting career she has worked on numerous stormwater-harvesting projects including the award-winning Hartfield Park scheme with the City of Kalamunda, and several Water Corporation investigations, the most informative of which was a review and study tour of South Australia’s world-class MAR schemes, which provide that city with up to 7GL/year fit-for-purpose irrigation and industrial water supply.

David Topp

Barristers in Law

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David Topp is a Barrister at the private bar in Brisbane. Admitted as a solicitor in 2002 and having commenced practice as a barrister in 2006, David demonstrates many years of practical experience in all aspects of wills, estates and family provision litigation and dispute resolution. Outside of his ‘day job’, David is a published author of two security for costs textbooks, the property transactions law themed Tennyson Breach of 2012 and that publication’s effective sequel of 2024: Brisbane Breached, the Story of a Drought Defaulted Floodplain, published by Connor Court. The title reflecting Brisbane’s breaching in the final weekend of February 2022, with flood damage of broader severity than 2011’s event, despite the lower official flood height. Also in Brisbane Breached, David analyzed the reasonings of the NSW Court of Appeal which culminated in a  dismissal of the class-action lawsuit that pleaded a case – unsuccessfully in the result – of negligent operation of Wivenhoe Dam during the 2011 flood event. During David’s 30 minute presentation, David will explain why the flood engineers were exonerated and in so doing will compare the differing dynamics at the Dam wall of 2011 and 2022 in concluding that no two flood events are the same nor can ever be the same.

Dr Matthew Verbyla

San Diego State University

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Dr. Matthew E. Verbyla is an Associate Professor of Environmental Engineering at San Diego State University (SDSU) in California (USA), where he directs the Safe WaTER Lab ( He teaches courses on water management, wastewater treatment, and the microbiological processes of environmental engineering. The goal of his research is to better understand the health-related environmental microbiological processes and the fate and transport of pathogens and fecal indicators in engineered systems and the environment. Currently, his group is innovating new methods for fecal source tracking in stormwater and recreational waters. In 2023, he co-convened a Session at Stockholm World Water Week entitled “Harnessing the digital revolution for water innovation.” Matthew has a Bachelor’s degree in Civil Engineering from Lafayette College (USA), and Master’s and Ph.D. degrees in Environmental Engineering from the University of South Florida (USA). He worked as a postdoctoral scholar in the Environmental Chemistry Laboratory at the Federal Polytechnic University of Lausanne (Switzerland) before joining the faculty at SDSU. Before graduate school, Matthew worked as a civil and environmental engineering consultant in the northeast United States, and as an Engineering Project Director for a nonprofit organization in Honduras.

Ryan Winston

Ohio State University

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Ryan Winston is an Associate Professor in the Departments of Food, Agricultural, and Biological Engineering and Civil, Environmental, and Geodetic Engineering and a Core Faculty of the Sustainability Institute at Ohio State University. Ryan leads the Ohio State University Stormwater Management Program, which provides stormwater and stream management services and technical assistance related to urban water to federal and state agencies, local governments, and watershed groups.  We conduct applied research at the practice, site, and small watershed scale to help understand the cost, benefits and ecosystem services provided by stormwater control measures.  Ryan has led more than 50 projects focused on urban/suburban stormwater monitoring and subsequent development and calibration of models based on these data.  Ryan has particular interest in applying lessons learned in field-based research projects to inform design of new stormwater controls.

Acknowledgement of Country

We acknowledge the Traditional Custodians of the land on which we live and work. We pay respect to their Elders past, present and emerging whose knowledge and wisdom have been protecting and sustaining our water and lands for tens of thousands of years.

Contact Info

If you have queries regarding the Stormwater, Environment & Technology National Conference 2024, please contact the Conference Office.

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