Mr Russell Tait

Russell completed his Bachelor of Science (Honours) at Monash University in 1976. During his time at Monash, Russell was also active in sports (hockey, underwater hockey) and the underwater and outdoor clubs. Upon graduating he moved to Adelaide to begin his first job as a water pollution biologist with the state water regulator, working on environmental monitoring and water treatment.

Moving to the Northern Territory, he then managed an environmental laboratory near Kakadu National Park and completed a Master of Science with Honours by research at Macquarie University on floodplain ecology. He joined Esso in 1981, beginning an international career with ExxonMobil.

Following assignments in Queensland and Sydney he moved to the east coast of the U.S.A. in 1989.  His next major challenge was in Alaska, where he managed the environmental and Natural Resources Damage Assessment field studies for the Valdez oil spill. Moving back to Australia in 1992 he undertook environmental management and research studies on Bass Strait and Westernport.

Returning to the United States in 1996, he commenced a series of environmental and socio-economic assignments through increasingly senior positions. He has worked on projects in more than 80 countries during his career. These assignments led to him becoming Chief Environmental Scientist of Exxon Mobil Corporation in 2012, a position from which he retired in 2017.

Russell has contributed to numerous government and international environmental assessments, most recently focusing on the Arctic. He has been an industry scientific advisor on research, some of which included the impact of sound on marine life, decommissioning of offshore structures and climate change. Russell is a Certified Environmental Professional (Impact Assessment) and has published over 50 scientific papers, and received the Brodie Medal in Chemical Engineering for research on waste water treatment.

During his time working in the former Soviet Union, he was awarded a Fellowship of the Azerbaijan Eco‑Energy Academy for his leadership and contributions to the science of the Caspian Sea. He is a technical expert advisor to the U.N. for the 2nd World Ocean Assessment, and has been a director of the Victorian Institute of Marine Science and the Marine Science Laboratories of Victoria.

Russell and his wife have now settled back in Melbourne, and are continuing to engage on environmental and social issues. Russell is actively engaged with the Environment Institute and Monash University assisting students and early career scientists and engineers through mentoring, academic and career development activities.