Mike Archer
Mike Archer

Professor Mike Archer AM: career profile

Sydney, New South Wales, 25 March, 1945; Dual-citizen Australia & USA

Married to Dr Suzanne J. Hand with four children: Kirsten, Rory, Zoë, Nikkita

Tertiary and postgraduate education
Princeton University, BA Geology/Biology (Magna Cum Lauda), 1967;
University of Western Australia, PhD Zoology, 1976.

Appointments (principal & sequential)
Fulbright  Scholar, Western Australian Museum: 1967 and 1968
ARC Researcher, WAM:  1968-71
Curator of Mammals, Queensland Museum: 1972-1978
Lecturer, School of Zoology, University of New South Wales: 1978-1980
Senior Lecturer, School of Zoology, UNSW: 1980-1985
Associate Professor, School of Zoology, UNSW: 1985-1989
Director, Australian Museum: 1999-2003
Dean of Science, UNSW: 2004-2009
Professor, School of Biological, Earth and Environmental Sciences, UNSW: 1989-present

Fellowships in learned societies
FRZSNSW (Fellow of the Royal Zoological Society of NSW)
FWAAS (Fellow of the World Academy of Arts & Sciences)
FACE (Fellow of the Australian College of Educators)
FAS (Fellow of the Australian Academy of Science)
FRSN (Fellow of the Royal Society of NSW)
FA21 (Fellow of Australia 21)

Research associateships
AustralianMuseum, Research Associate (1978-2007)
QueenslandMuseum, Honorary Associate (1986-present)
American Museum of Natural History, Research Associate (2005-present)

Honorary appointments
Adjunct Professor, Climate Change Research Centre, UNSW: 2009 to present
Adjunct Professor, Institute of Environmental Studies, UNSW: 2009 to present

Awards, citations, honours
Eight Gilbert Whitley awards for books written or edited (1982-2007);
Clarke Medal of the Royal Society of New South Wales (1984);
Inaugural QueenslandMuseum Medal (1987);
Australian Heritage Award for Nature Conservation (1989);
Inaugural EurekaPrize for the Promotion of Science (1990);
Inaugural IBM Conservation Award (with S. Hand & H. Godthelp) (1990);
Fellowship of the Royal Zoological Society of New South Wales--FRZSNSW;
von Mueller Medal of ANZAAS (1994);
Verco Medal of the Royal Society of South Australia (1996);
Skeptic of the Year (1998);
Special Recognition Medal, NationalMuseum of Australia;
Fellowship of the AustralianAcademy of Science--FAS (from 2002);
Dr Alice Whitley Award for Science Education (2002), Aust.College of Educators;
Fellowship of the WorldAcademy of Arts & Sciences--WAAS (from 2003);
Australian Centennial Medal (2003);
TH Huxley Award (2004);
Fellowship of the Australian College of Educators--FACE (from 2006);
Medal of the Riversleigh Society (2006);
Member of the Order of Australia--AM (from 2007)
Member of ‘Top 100 Most Influential People in Sydney’ (SMH 2008)
Awarded Membership of the Australian Institute of Biology--AIB (from 2008)
Inaugural Fellowship of the Royal Society of New South Wales (from 2009)
Selected by Dir.-Gen. Nat. Library of Aust. for Oral Record of Life History (2010)

Trusts/councils/advisory boards (indicative)
Trustee, Australian Geographic Society (former)
Member, World Wildlife Fund Scientific Advisory Committee (former)
Member, TAFE Advisory Board (former)
Member, Children's Creative Workshop Advisory Board (former)
Member, Australian Geographic Society Research Advisory Board (former)
Member, Research Advisory Board for Earthwatch Australia (1988-1992)
Member, Council of the NationalMuseum of Australia (1990-1995)
Trustee, Thegotics Trust (international) (1985-present)
Co-Director, Australian Tropical Research Foundation (1995-present)
Member, IUCN Advisory Committee for the ‘Evolution of Australian mammals, Riversleigh and Naracoorte’ World Heritage property (1995-2003)
Chairman, Management Committee for ‘Tales from the Kangaroo’s Crypt’ CD-ROM Project (Federal Govt’s ‘Australia on CD-ROM Program’) (1996-98)
Member, AustralianAcademy of Science National Committee for the Environment (1998)
Co-Director, Riversleigh Fossil Interpretive Centre (from 1997)
Senior Scientist of the Riversleigh Society Inc (1986-present)
Chairman, Budget and Priorities Committee, AustralianMuseum (1999-2003)
Secretary of the Trust of the AustralianMuseum (1999-2003)
Chairman, Finance Committee of the AustralianMuseum (2002-2003)
Chairman of the Board of Management of the AustralianMuseum (2002-2003)
Council Member, The AustralianMuseum Society (1999-2003)
Member, Council of AustralianMuseum Directors (1999-2003)
Member, LizardIsland Research Foundation (1999-2003)
Member, National Parks of New South Wales External Advisory Group (2002-2004)
Chairman, External Environmental Advisory Group for the Minerals Council of Australia (2000-2003)
Reader, Australian Research Council (2002-present).
Editor, Ethics in Science and Environmental Politics (2002-present)
Director, The Australian Museum Rheuben Griffiths Trust for the Thylacine Project (2001-2003)
Co-Director, Coral Reef and Marine Science Foundation (USA) (2001-2003)
Fellow of Australia 21 and Leader of the Ecosystems Project (2002-present)
Chairman of the Blue Mountains World Heritage Research Institute (2006-07)
Co-Chairman, Advisory Board of the Connected Waters Centre (2007-2009)
Editorial Advisory Board for Newton science magazine (2003-2005)
Editorial Advisory Board for Cosmos science magazine (2005-present)
Editorial Advisory Board for Zoological Science (2007-present)
Co-Director, Crossbow Enterprises (2006-present; http://www.visionquest.com.au/index.php?mp_id=11)
Co-Director, Sydney Institute of Marine Science (2006-2009)
Head, Lazarus Project (2004-present)
Member, Sydney Institute of Marine Science Foundation (2009-present)
Co-Director, PlanetArk(2007-2009)
Member, Academic Board, UNSW (2004-2009)
Member, School Advisory Committee BEES (2009-present)
Member, Management Board, Injury Risk Management Res. Centre (2004-09)
Member, Lifeboat Foundation Scientific Advisory Board (2008-present)
Acting Director Fowler’s Gap Research Station (2009)
Chairman Fowler’s Gap Research Station Advisory Committee (2005-present)
Founding Director Echidna Energy Pty Ltd (2009-present)

Invited addresses (representative)
International Thegotics Conference, Christchurch, New Zealand; Australian Conservation Foundation; International Ethology Congress; Mammal Phylogeny, American Museum of Natural History, USA; International Dental Association; Conference on Palaeoclimate and Evolution, with Emphasis on Human Evolution, Airlie Conference Centre, Virginia; Gondwanan Heritage Congress, University of Western Australia, Perth; International Theriological Congress, University of New South Wales, Sydney;  Macquarie University, Sydney (Milthorpe Memorial Lecture); Southern Temperate Ecosystems: Origin and Diversification Symposium; Monument Grube Messel--Perspectives and Relationships, Hessiches Landesmuseum Darmstadt, Germany; Biochronologie Mammalienne du Cénozoïque en Europe et Domaines Reliés, Montpellier, France; Landcare National Conference, Adelaide; National Landcare Conference, Conference Centre, Adelaide; Quaternary Deserts and Climatic Change Conference, Univ. Wollongong; Mammal Evolution, Western Australian Museum, Perth (Australian Mammal Society); External Environmental Advisory Committee Chairman’s Address to the Minerals Council of Australia, Melbourne; Australian Dental Association; Geological Society of Australia (J.J. Frankel Memorial Lecture); National Museum of Australia; Queensland Museum Society (Stan Colliver Memorial Lecture); Royal Society of South Australia (Verco Memorial Lecture); Young Presidents Organisation (several times most recently in 2009); Keynote address on Science, South Korea (Australia/Korea Foundation); Climate change--the up and down sides (Australian Institute of Biology,  ); 2009 Malcolm McIntosh Lecture to CSIRO; 2010 Guest Speaker Wildlife Preservation Scociety of Australia Ltd; 2010 Keynote Address to Australian Forest Growers Biennial Conf, Mount Gambier; etc.

Whitley Book Awards

Best Symposium Volume (1982): Carnivorous marsupials  (ed. M. Archer);

Best Book on Australian Prehistory (1983): Prehistoric Animals of Australia  (ed. S. Quirk & M. Archer);

Best Textbook (1984): Vertebrate Zoogeography and Evolution in Australasia  (ed. M. Archer, G. Clayton);

Best Book on Australian Mammals (1985): The Kangaroo  (by M. Archer & T. Flannery);

Best Symposium Volume (1988): Possums and Opossums: Studies in Evolution  (ed. M. Archer);

Best Palaeontological Volume (1991): Riversleigh (by M. Archer, S. Hand & H. Godthelp);

Best Popular Zoology (2003): Prehistoric Mammals of Australia and New Guinea (by J. Long, M. Archer, T. Flannery, S. Hand)

Certificate of Commendation in the 2007 Whitley Awards Best Reference Text category (2007): Evolution and Zoogeography of Australasian Vertebrates (ed. J.R. Merrick, M. Archer, M., G. Hickey, M. Lee)  

Editorial committees for research journals
Australian Mammalogy  1982-1985 (Editor);
Australian Zoological Reviews  (inaugural planning committee);
Australian Zoologist  1986-88 (Mbr Editorial Committee);
Carnivore  1979 (Mbr Editorial Committee);
Mammalian Evolution 1991-1995 (Mbr Editorial Committee);
Mastozoologica 1993 (Mbr Editorial Committee);
Zoological Science 2008-present (Mbr Editorial Advisory Board).

Research symposia
Organised/co-organised 10 research symposia since 1982 including:

FATE (Future of Australia’s Terrestrial Ecosystems) Workshops (three to date; the first launched by the Premier of NSW), 2000-2001. (Supported by many Govt departments and ngos, attended by agencies throughout NSW as well as the NT, South Australia, Queensland and Victoria; now established in UNSW, with Peter Ampt as Manager, and getting research funding.)

Do We Need a Zoological Revolution? 2000. (Organised with D. Lunney; supported by the Royal Zoological Society of New South Wales and the Australian Museum; proceedings to be published.)

Early Mammal Evolution 2002. (Organised with A. Musser and S. Hand; an international Symposium with invited participants that will be part of the International Geological Congress held in 2002 at Macquarie University; Prof. Ruth Mawson is one of the key organisers. As currently planned, the proceedings will be published.)

Riversleigh Symposia. (Organised with S. Hand and H. Godthelp; there have been three of these two of which have led to symposia volumes; the most recent Riversleigh Symposium was run in 2006.)

Unusual projects

FATE (Future of Australian Threatened Ecosystems) Project (http://www.fate.unsw.edu.au/; this website is shifting to the University of Sydney and hence will change). This has become a major initiative engaging scientists, politicians, Govt agencies and NGOs (e.g., Australia 21), Farmers Federation, Landcare, Meat & Livestock Association, Kangaroo Industry Association of Australia, sustainable native forestry groups and key individuals with related foci (e.g., Profs Gordon Grigg, Graham Webb, Tony English, George Wilson etc.). The FATE Team, led by Peter Ampt (http://www.fate.unsw.edu.au/team/index.htm; see above), is developing and deploying adaptive management programs based on the principle of CSU--Conservation through Sustainable Use (http://www.fate.unsw.edu.au/program/index.htm; see above). The FATE Program has now shifted to the University of Sydney in the Faculty of Agriculture, still led by Peter Ampt. I am to be given an honorary staff relationship to the University of Sydney to maintain close involvement with FATE.

The Thylacine Project. A controversial project to recover the DNA of the extinct Thylacine  (Thylacinus cynocephalus), started in 2000, made significant progress including recovery of the DNA and determination that there were identifiable nuclear and mitochondrial genes present. The focus was to recover the genome of the extinct Thylacine from museum specimens with the ultimate aim of contributing to a future effort to clone the Thylacine back into existence. Researchers in four universities and one research institute were involved. Funding was provided from private sources. This Project was the subject of a Discovery Documentary provocatively entitled The End of Extinction: Cloning the Tasmanian Tiger.

The Burramys Project currently underway aims to use understanding gained from the last 24 million years of the fossil record to challenge the current presumption that the Mountain Pygmy Possum faces necessary extinction as a consequence of climate change to its current alpine habitat. This project involves collaboration between Healesville Sanctuary in Victoria, Secret Creek Sanctuary in Lithgow, faunal authorities in Victoria and NSW, modern researchers working on Burramys parvus and members of the Riversleigh Research team.

The Lazurus Project which aims to bring back another iconic extinct Australian animal, is now underway in conjunction with four universities and two medical research institutes. Significant progress to date (2009) includes reconstitution of the extinct genome and research underway now to enable embryonic development.

Companies established
Two companies have been started: Crossbow Enterprises Pty Ltd, with Norm Wilkinson, to conceive and develop documentaries arising in the first place from research done at Riversleigh; and Echidna Energy Pty Ltd with six other participants representing sectors of the mining industry, biochemistry of biofuels, economists/investment managers, inventors and harvester designers, to develop a program for the sustainable harvest of a native Australian plant for biofuel that could significantly reduce our dependence on coal and restore resilience to rural/regional Australian communities and environments.

Institutions established, progressed or initiated

  1. Warren Somerville Collection, Bathurst, NSW. $15 million gem & fossil collection donated to the Australian Museum and housed in a purpose-rennovated heritage museum in Bathurst.
  2. AustralianMuseum renovation and expansion. In 2003 the State Government agreed to provide $40m to develop an annex on its eastern flank; the new AM wing constructed using these funds opened in 2008.
  3. National Opal Collection, Pitt Street, Sydney. A State Government/Corporate sector partnership conceived and organised with Andrew Cody (National Opal Collection and Cody’s Opals) to position Australian Museum opalised fossils in a central city location on the Pitt Street Mall. As of 2007, this partnership has meant revenue to the AM of $500,000 with recurrent income projected for the next 12 years and beyond.
  4. Age of FishesMuseum, Canowindra, NSW. Stage 2 of this initiative was progressed and broadened to develop collaborations with the Royal Tyrell Museum in Canada.  
  5. Lightning Ridge Opal and FossilMuseum, Lightning Ridge, NSW. This initiative, which began in 2003, is now being progressed by local organisations and personnel.
  6. WellingtonCavesMuseum, Wellington, NSW. Discussions began in 2003 between the Australian Museum and the Wellington Shire and Caves Board to establish a major regional museum in Wellington to display the AM’s Wellington Collections. Dr Mike Augee (formerly UNSW; now Dep. Mayor of Wellington) manages further development of displays at Wellington Caves.
  7. The Eye Health Institute in UNSW made possible by a generous donation of $40m from Guide Dogs NSW/ACT. As Dean of Science at UNSW which includes the School of Optometry & Vision Science, he worked with UNSW and Guide Dogs NSW/ACT staff to ensure that this initiative was soundly conceived, supported, directed and managed.
  8. Sydney Institute of Marine Science at Chowder Bay. As Dean of Science at UNSW he worked as an inaugural Director with others including Prof. Frank Talbot and other Deans/Deputy Vice-Chanellors at Univ. Sydney, Macquarie and UTS to successfully establish this four-university research/teaching entity.