Ron is a marine ecologist with diverse interests, ranging from recruitment variability of inshore fish and crustaceans and management of invasive species to use of deep-sea corals as indicators of paleo-climate and oceanography. He completed his Ph.D. in fish behavior and ecology at the University of Miami, and did post-doctoral work at Scripps Institution of Oceanography and the University of Sydney.
He joined the Australian Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization in 1983. He was the foundation head of the CSIRO Centre for Research on Introduced Marine Pests (CRIMP) and since 1997, he has lead a project aimed at developing genetic technologies for controlling introduced pest species (with a particular emphasis on carp).
He has had a long interest in the use of the chemical composition of otoliths (“ear stones”) in fish as possible markers of their movements and ecology, and recently broadened that interest to include analysis of the similar composition of deep-sea corals as indicators of long-term changes in ocean conditions and its implications for both understanding climate variability and the ecology of marine organisms.