Renowned statistician and data scientist Professor Bronwyn Harch has been appointed interim Queensland Chief Scientist while the state government searches for a permanent replacement.
Professor Harch assumed the top job at the Department of Environment and Science this week, replacing former Queensland Chief Scientist of two years, Professor Hugh Possingham.
Professor Possingham, who was a driving force for the sector during COVID-19, took the decision to “hang up his boots” at the end of August.
With a research career spanning 30 years, Professor Harch comes to the role as the Queensland government places renewed focus on the renewables as part of its newly released energy and jobs plan.
In this year’s budget, the government also set aside another $142 million to support innovation in the state as part of its 10-year innovation roadmap.
Professor Harch has spent the last six months as an Adjunct Professor at Queensland University of Technology (QUT) Entrepreneurship, a leading program aimed at fostering “entrepreneurial action” in graduates.
Before that, she spent almost four years as the Deputy Vice Chancellor (Research & Innovation) and Vice-President (Research and Innovation) at the University of Queensland.
Professor Harch also worked at CSIRO between 1995 and 2013, including one-year stints as computational informatics chief and mathematics, information and statistics chief.
Science Minister Meaghan Scanlon said Professor Harch has had a distinguished research career focused on agriculture, environmental systems monitoring and modelling.
“A Queenslander with degrees in science and teaching (science and mathematics) and a PhD in statistics… Professor Harch is passionate about science and innovation making our communities more secure, resilient and sustainable,” she said announcing the appointment.
Minister Scanlon also said that having “such an accomplished woman in STEM take on the role” will “inspire even more young Queensland women to give science a go”.
“Professor Harch knows just how important Queensland’s scientific capabilities are both on a local and global scale, and I look forward to working with her,” she said.
Professor Harch will continue as Chief Scientist until the government finds a permanent replacement by the end of April 2023.
Professor Harch continues to sit on the Queensland government’s Innovation Advisory Council and is a member of the Co-operative Research Centres (CRC) Advisory Committee.
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