Team Profiles

David Norman


David Norman is the Chief Executive Officer of the Future Fuels Cooperative Research Centre (CRC). David is responsible for implementing the vision and mission of Future Fuels CRC and managing its operations.

David was the Chief Executive Officer of the Energy Pipelines CRC and was responsible for leading the successful bid to create Future Fuels CRC.

David has over 20 years of experience with Royal Dutch Shell in an array of commercial, managerial and technical roles, both in Australia and globally. His most recent role was General Manager of LNG for Transport developing a visionary new fuel for the trucking, marine and mining industries using locally sourced natural gas as a substitute for existing diesel fuel. Prior to this he was deeply involved in scenarios and options for the future of energy as Head of Strategy and Business Development for Shell Downstream Australia. David’s early roles included Plant Manager of a major oil refinery, Inspection Integrity Engineer and Turnaround Change Manager.

David graduated in Mechanical and Manufacturing Engineering from the University of Melbourne and has completed a Masters of Business Administration (MBA) from Deakin University. He is a member of Engineers Australia and the Australian Institute of Energy.

Dr Klaas van Alphen

Research and Innovation Manager

Dr Klaas van Alphen is responsible for the delivery of our large portfolio of industry-led research projects and for maintaining a healthy pipeline of new research project proposals that represent maximum value to the industry.

Klaas has extensive experience in management of multidisciplinary research-industry teams covering engineering, materials, corrosion science, economics, asset management, low-carbon energy and safety science, including Australian experience with the Energy Pipelines CRC and the Global CCS Institute.

Klaas manages the Future Fuels CRC process of proposal development, evaluation, selection, project due diligence and contracting.

In his role Klaas is responsible for the development and implementation of Intellectual Property (IP) management strategies, including the appropriate utilisation and commercialisation of IP.

Klaas maintains strong and effective industry, government and academic stakeholder relationships both nationally and internationally. He is actively involved in research and industry forums, including the APGA Research and Standards Committee (APGA-RSC).

Before moving to Australia 2009, Klaas was a researcher for the Dutch Copernicus Institute for Sustainable Development and Innovation (Netherlands) and was involved in energy related research programs.

Klaas holds undergraduate and postgraduate science degrees from the Utrecht University in the Netherlands.

Martha Le

Research Coordinator Program 1: Future Fuels Technology and Markets

Martha manages a portfolio of industry-led research projects focusing on understanding the technical, economic, market barriers and opportunities for the use of future fuels.

Martha Le has over 20 years of experience in the gas and energy industry. She graduated in Chemical Engineering from the University of Sydney. She started her career as an engineering graduate in AGL then moved on to other technical, managerial and commercial roles within AGL, Jemena and AusNet Services.

She has extensive experience working in the gas distribution assets management area. Her experience also includes managing and leading a NATA accredited facility to provide technical and engineering services in the areas of testing appliances, plastics and components.

She is a member of Australian Standards committee “AG-001 (Gas Appliances)”, and member of Sub-committee “AG-001-02”. She is a member of Engineers Australia. Her other activities include being a NATA technical assessor.

Dr Stephen McGrail

Research Coordinator Program 2: Social Acceptance, Public Safety & Security Of Supply

Stephen brings a diverse background to this role having worked in academia over the past decade and previously in the private sector. As a university-based researcher, he’s held positions in sociology (at Monash University), applied social research (Swinburne) and eco-innovation (University of Melbourne). In these roles, Stephen was involved in transdisciplinary climate change mitigation-focussed research – involving societal actors in the co-production of visions of sociotechnical alternatives and associated modelling – and transition studies research on the dynamics of socio-technical system change. His doctoral research appraised CSIRO’s cross-sectoral energy futures forums and evaluated the contribution of such forward-looking studies and transdisciplinary work to low-carbon transitions.

Prior to academia, Stephen worked for about a decade in strategic advisory and advertising firms, and in other professional services roles. This work included: community engagement, policy, strategy and public reporting work on environmental, social licence, and corporate social responsibility challenges; and work as a strategy planner and cultural analyst. In this work he also gained experience as a facilitator in stakeholder dialogue, ‘learning circle’, and professional development contexts. He has related degrees in marketing and strategic foresight, and also holds MA and PhD degrees.

Dr Fari Mahdavi

Research Coordinator Program 3: Network Life Cycle Management

Dr Fari Mahdavi manages and coordinates the research activities for Program 3, engaging and supporting a diverse group of stakeholders to facilitate positive and impactful outcomes and providing technical advice to research program committees and research project teams.

Fari is also the Research Impact Leader for Future Fuels CRC. In this role she is responsible for developing a strategic approach to supporting research impact; developing and identifying tools and resources to support impact planning and evidencing. She also coordinates different aspects of strategic research impact and engagement.

Fari received her doctorate degree in Engineering from Deakin University, Australia in 2017. Prior to her doctorate study she worked for 6 years as a researcher and engineer with Iran’s Research Institute of Petroleum Industry (RIPI) in areas of corrosion engineering and protective coatings. Fari also previously worked for Energy Pipelines CRC as research officer. Fari is currently a member of several standard committees within Standards Australia such as ME-93: Hydrogen technologies, ME-38: Petroleum Pipelines, ME-38-08: Linings for oil and gas.


Robert Newton

Business Manager/Company Secretary

Robert is a chartered accountant with over 40 years’ experience as a practicing accountant.

Robert joined Future Fuels CRC in January 2020 following the finalisation of Energy Pipelines CRC. He was the Company Secretary and Business Manager of EPCRC from June 2010 until September 2018 and then oversaw the completion of the company’s activities.

Robert has held a variety of company secretary and general manager roles within research and other organisations, including Reproductive Health Science Pty Ltd, vivoPharm Pty Ltd, The Queen Elizabeth Hospital Research Foundation Inc and Institute of Craniofacial Studies Inc.

Prior to that Robert held several accounting roles in Australia and the UK, both in companies and private practice.

Robert is a Fellow of the Institute of Chartered Accountants in Australia and a Fellow of the Australian Institute of Company Directors.

George Whittaker

Communications and Engagement Manager

George manages the communications program for the CRC and its research activities, engaging and supporting the CRC’s diverse group of stakeholders to achieve their shared goals and positive research outcomes.

George has over twenty years of experience in corporate communications in the energy, technology and government sectors in both Australia and the United Kingdom and graduated in Physics from Imperial College, London.

Benjy Lee

Strategic Adviser

Benjy Lee is a Strategic Adviser to Future Fuels CRC and an independent consultant, who specialises in energy and climate policy development, future fuels research and net zero carbon strategies.

Benjy has over two decades of experience covering environmental engineering, carbon management, commercial and public affairs roles across a variety of sectors, with the last decade at Jemena where he played a key role in shaping their energy policy advocacy and stakeholder engagement approach.

Benjy has also worked collaboratively on energy policy development through his contribution to many industry associations, including the Business Council of Australia, Energy Networks Australia, Ai Group, Australian Hydrogen Council, Bioenergy Australia, Australian Pipelines and Gas Association, and to improve customer outcomes across the energy sector as a former Deputy Chair of the Energy Charter’s Industry Working Group.

Dr Antonella Banno

Business Development Manager

Antonella is responsible for developing the strategic growth plan and business plan beyond the CRC’s fixed lifespan of 2025. There is significant industry need and multiple opportunities for continuing research capability in future fuels within Australia and Antonella is focussed on these developments.

Antonella has over 15 years of experience with Royal Dutch Shell in technical, operational and strategic leadership roles in Australia, Asia and Europe.  More recently she has held executive positions with Dulux Group and Nutrano Group. Antonella has a Bachelor of Science with Honours and a PhD in Chemistry from LaTrobe University.