Gig Guide: Google Research Australia appoints its co-leads

Brandon How

Google has appointed Dr Grace Chung and Professor Peter Bartlett as the new co-leads of Google Research Australia. Their roles include overseeing the Google Research Hub based in Sydney and will focus on opportunities in AI and machine learning. They are currently developing their specific focus areas.

Dr Chung joined Google in 2008 after spending two years as a senior research fellow at the University of New South Wales. She has been the Google AUNZ Engineering Site Lead since 2020. Dr Chung was also an adjunct professor at Georgetown University in the US between 2001 and 2005. She said she was “thrilled” to take on the role and is looking forward to building a diverse team.

“Australia has a long history of producing world-leading talent in technology, particularly in engineering. But opportunities in research have often been limited because of geographical location and competition from overseas.

“Google Research Australia will be a place that provides great opportunities for Australian researchers. Talented Australians with big ideas will get to realise their potential here. I look forward to partnering with our top local universities to grow and nurture the research ecosystem in our country,” Dr Chung said.

Professor Bartlett is currently a professor in computer science and statistics at University College Berkeley in the US and was formerly at the Faculty of Science and Technology at the Queensland University of Technology. In 2015 Professor Bartlett was made a fellow of the Australian Academy of Science and in 2011 was awarded an Australian Laureate Fellowship by the Australian Research Council.

Dr Grace Chung and Professor Peter Bartlett. Image: ABC Science and ACEMS

Also joining the Google research team is Professor Steve Blackburn, a prominent computer science researcher who was previously the associate dean at the College of Engineering and Computer Science at the Australian National University between 2014 and 2019, and oversaw diversity and inclusion between 2016 and 2019. He is also a fellow of the Association for Computing Machinery.

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) has appointed Catriona Lowe as deputy chair, who will start in the role on January 27, 2023. The current term of ACCC deputy chair Delia Rickard is expected to be extended until Ms Lowe enters the role. Ms Rickard has been in the role since 2012.

Ms Lowe currently sits on the board of the Australian Energy Regulator. She brings almost 30 years’ worth of experience in consumer advocacy with positions previously held at the Australian Financial Complaints Authority, the Consumer Action Law Centre, the Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman, and the ACCC.

The chair and two other members of the Clean Energy Regulator’s Emissions Reduction Assurance Committee have resigned. According to ABC News, chair and former mining lobbyist David Byers and economist Dr Brian Fisher were asked to resign. Cement industry lobbyist Margie Thomson was the third committee member to resign. Minister for Climate Change and Energy Chris Bowen has not immediately appointed replacements.

Data#3 appointed John Tan to its newly created chief customer officer role. Mr Tan will oversee strategy, operational direction, and subsequent activities of the company’s infrastructure solutions, software solutions, and services sales business units. He has been with Data#3 for 14 years and held numerous leadership positions managing maintenance and infrastructure solutions.

Professor Susan Dodds has been appointed to the Australian Research Council’s advisory committee by Education Minister Jason Clare. Professor Dodds is currently deputy vice-chancellor (research and industry engagement) and a professor of philosophy at La Trobe University. In 2021 she was elected a fellow of the Academy of the Humanities.

The new chief technology officer at Mable, a platform for connecting to care workers, is Adam Boas. He moves from head of engineering at payments solution Zepto after five months. Prior to his time at Zepto, Mr Boas was head of delivery for platform services at MYOB. He has also held roles at ANZ, Culture Amp, and REA Group.

Last month, former chief technology officer of AusNet Services Lucaiana Bitelman joined RMIT University as the director of architecture and software engineering. This is Ms Bitelman’s first role at an academic institution following a 20-year career.

Michael Ciavarella is the first chief technology officer of A&S Labels, parent company of online fashion brands Tiger Mist and I.AM.GIA. He left his role as general manager information technology at Swimming Australia after more than two and half years. Prior to that, Mr Ciavarella was head of innovation and data analytics at Target Australia.

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