Dr Meryl Williams

Portrait of Dr Meryl Williams

2010 College Recipient, College of Science and Engineering

Dr Meryl Williams has worked in Queensland, Australian, Pacific and international fisheries, aquaculture, aquatic resource conservation and development. Currently, she is focusing on research and advocacy on women and gender equality in the fisheries, aquaculture and food value chains, and information and science for fair, inclusive and responsible fish production for food security and nutrition.

Dr Williams was Director General of WorldFish Center (1994-2004), during which time she concentrated the focus of WorldFish on eradicating poverty, improving people’s nutrition, and reducing pressure on the environment. She was previously the Director of the Australian Institute of Marine Science, Executive Director of the Bureau of Rural Sciences (Australian Government), tuna fisheries statistician at the Secretariat for the Pacific Community and fisheries biologist in the Queensland state government service. From 2008-2012 she was a member and Vice Chair of the Scientific and Technical Advisory Panel of the Global Environment Facility (International Waters focal area).

She is an elected Fellow of the Australian Academy of Technological Sciences and Engineering (ATSE) and an Honorary Life Member of AFS. She has been awarded an Australian Centenary Medal (2003), and the 2015 Crawford Medal (Crawford Fund, Australia) for contributions to international agricultural research, and in 2010 named an Outstanding Alumnus of James Cook University. In 2020, the Australian Council for International Agricultural Research named a women’s leadership fellowship scheme in her honour.

She has also held board and committee positions on other high level governance bodies. From 1998-2002 she was Chair of the Advisory Board of the CGIAR Gender and Diversity Program that launched the pilot phase of the ongoing AWARD (African Women in Agricultural Research and Development) program. From 2008-2014 she was a member of the Governing Board of the International Crop Research Center for the Semi-Arid Tropics. From 2004 to 2007 she was Chair of the ACIAR Board of Management and Policy Advisory Council, and, from 2007-2010 Chair of the ACIAR Commission. She helped found and chaired from 2017-2022 the Gender in Aquaculture and Fisheries Section of AFS.

Dr Williams received her JCU Bachelor of Science with Honours Class 1 in 1975 and was awarded the Dr R. Palmerston-Rundle Prize for biological sciences.

Updated April 2023