Dr Cathy Foley will be Australia's next Chief Scientist

Dr Cathy Foley will be Australia’s next Chief Scientist


Australia’s set for a new Chief Scientist in 2021, with Dr Cathy Foley to take the helm from Alan Finkel when his five-year tenure finishes in December.

Foley is a physicist and is the CSIRO’s current chief scientist. In 2019, she was named the Women’s Agenda Agenda Setter of the Year. She’s long been an advocate for getting more women into STEM and improving conditions for women already working in such fields.

On accepting the position in Canberra at a press conference with Prime Minister Scott Morrison and Minister Karen Andrews, Dr Foley presented gifts to Morrison’s daughters, to encourage them to pursue careers as CSIRO scientists.

Foley will be the second woman appointed to the role, and her appointment comes at a critical point: given the need for urgent action on climate change as well as the next stage in responding to COVID-19.

She described the appointment as “an extraordinary honour”.

“It’s a chance to serve the nation in a way that will allow science and technology to be able to assist the government in addressing the many challenges confronting us right now.

“Also to encourage the youth of today to see that science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) are really a way forward to have careers that are exciting and well paid and something that will contribute to society.”

In making the appointment on Monday morning, Morrison noted the “big task ahead” for Foley to “drive collaboration between industries, the science and research community, as we look to create jobs for the COVID 19 recovery and for the future.”

Morrison said that the work of the CSIRO and other research institutions is “absolutely joined when it comes to realising Australia’s manufacturing strategy.”

“One of the key people who will be involved in this key process going forward to ensure that where we’re placing our priorities and how we’re understanding the many scientific challenges that Australia must face is the role of the Chief Scientist. That’s why I’m pleased to announce the next Chief Scientist is Dr Cathy Foley.”

Minister Karen Andrews noted Dr Foley’s distinguished career as an applied physicist and her 36 years at CSIRO. She also noted the work she’s done in manufacturing and her experience in scaling up operations.

Check out this Q&A we recently ran with Dr Foley in December 2019.

Foley starts in January, on an initial three year term.

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