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Are you Australia’s new Chief Scientist?

Looking for a new job? Applications are open to be Australia's Chief Scientist.
Michelle Aitken
Michelle Aitken
Content Creator
Are you Australia’s new Chief Scientist?
Image credit: Pexels/Artem Podrez

Do you look great in a lab coat? And are you ready to provide high-level advice to the Australian Government on matters relating to science, technology and innovation? Well, have we found the job for you.

As posted on LinkedIn in late June, the Department of Industry, Science and Resources is hiring for the role of Australia’s Chief Scientist.

The appointee will take over from current Chief Scientist Dr Cathy Foley when her tenure ends on 1 January 2025.

WHAT DOES A CHIEF SCIENTIST DO?

Australia’s Chief Scientist is responsible for providing independent, evidence-based advice to government as a member of several key priority bodies.

They also play a part in championing science in the community through public campaigns, and awards like the Prime Minister’s Prizes for Science.

Having a Chief Scientist helps increase the impact of Australian research by fostering connections between science, industry and the public. 

One such priority of the role is to improve the “effectiveness of science advice to government”, helping ensure policy decisions are sound and evidence-based.

The work of the Chief Scientist supports science and research at home and also furthers Australia’s international interests through strategic engagement with key countries like those in the Pacific region.

INFLUENTIAL FIGURES

The position was created under Bob Hawke’s Federal Labor Government in 1989. Hawke appointed biologist Ralph Slayter as the first Chief Scientist.

Eight scientists have held the role since Slayter, with Foley only the second woman to do so.

Before taking up the post of Australia’s Chief Scientist in 2021, Foley was the chief scientist at the CSIRO, where she made significant contributions to physics.

At the time of her appointment as Chief Scientist, the salary was set at close to half a million dollars.

Her personal contributions include supporting the development of Australia’s quantum strategy, and bringing forward a proposal to make academic journal articles accessible to all Australians.

Foley’s focus on equity and diversity in science is enabled by her ability to speak about the systems in which we do research, as much as the research being done. She has critiqued the way Australia evaluates research, and has committed to a refresh of our National Science and Research Priorities.

During Foley’s time in the role, she has faced the challenges of climate change, COVID-19, data ethics and cybersecurity.

Our next Chief Scientist can expect to continue grappling with similar challenges. As the climate crisis deepens, either emissions cuts or the Liberals’ half-baked plan to go nuclear will surely demand a lot of advice.

If you still feel up for the job, you’d better hurry. Applications close 15 July, and at the time of writing, the job has already had 15 applicants.

Michelle Aitken
About the author
Michelle Aitken
Michelle is interested in the relationships between science, culture, and policy. She has a background in performing arts and hospitality, and is a MEAA member.
View articles
Michelle is interested in the relationships between science, culture, and policy. She has a background in performing arts and hospitality, and is a MEAA member.
View articles

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