The ACS has joined the Government and academics in welcoming Dr Alan Finkel AO as Australia’s next chief scientist.
Dr Finkel – a prominent engineer and neuroscientist – starts his new role in January 2016, taking over from Professor Ian Chubb whose five-year term is coming to a close.
Currently the chancellor of Monash University and president of the Australian Academy of Technological Sciences and Engineering (ATSE), Dr Finkel’s “experience in science and the commercial sector means he is uniquely qualified to act as one of the Government’s key advisers on science and innovation,” according to Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull.
In his new role, Dr Finkel will provide “independent advice to the government on science, innovation and commercialisation and lift the profile of Australian scientific endeavour domestically and internationally.”
“My personal experience across research, business and STEM education will guide my ability to formulate relevant advice,” Dr Finkel said.
“We exist in a competitive international environment and to compete effectively, business needs science, science needs business, Australia needs both.”
The appointment was welcomed by a broad cross-section of the scientific and innovation community.
“We congratulate and welcome Dr Alan Finkel AO to the chief scientist role, and look forward to working with him to encourage greater innovation and entrepreneurship in this great nation,” ACS president Brenda Aynsley OAM said.
“We would also like to acknowledge the work of Professor Ian Chubb AC and the significant contribution he has made to public policy debate in this country.
“Professor Chubb has been a loud, influential and effective voice on the critical importance of STEM skills if Australia is to remain a high wealth country in the digital age.”
The Australian Academy of Science (AAS) also welcomed the appointment.
“Dr Finkel is an excellent choice for this position and I’m confident he will speak strongly and passionately on behalf of Australian science, particularly in his advice to government,” AAS president Professor Andrew Holmes said.
“The AAS and ATSE have never been closer; we have worked together well on important issues facing Australia’s research community, including our recent partnership on the Science in Australia Gender Equity initiative.”
Sir Gustav Nossal, an Emeritus Professor in the Department of Pathology at the University of Melbourne, said Dr Finkel’s appointment was “truly the most fantastic news.”
“Dr Finkel is an extraordinary leader. He has proven himself in personal scientific research and succeeded in business in competitive fields,” Nossal said.
“This news has made my day, my week, my month and my year.”
Professor Tanya Monro, deputy vice chancellor of research at the University of South Australia, also cited Dr Finkel’s entrepreneurial streak.
“It's wonderful to have a chief scientist who is an entrepreneur and who understands on a personal level what it takes to create value from pioneering science and engineering,” Monro said.
“Having worked with Alan on the board of ATSE I can attest that he brings to this role a rare combination of energy, strategic thinking and humanity.”