Scientist and industry leader Dr Katherine Woodthorpe will be the next president of the Academy of Technological Sciences and Engineering, the learned Academy announced on Thursday.
She will take over from current president professor Hugh Bradlow next year, becoming the first women to lead the Academy in its 47-year history.
Dr Woodthorpe, whose research career began in chemistry but has spanned climate, health and finance, has called for greater respect and funding for Australian scientists, but has also urged them to step up against increasingly vocal sceptics.
An Academy of Technological Sciences and Engineering (ATSE) Fellow since 2015, she vowed to continue fighting for scientists and evidence-based action as the Academy’s tenth President.
“It is an honour and a privilege to be elected President by over 900 of Australia’s brightest minds in science, technology, engineering and mathematics,” Dr Woodthorpe said.
“At a time when more ambitious climate action is crucial and building a skilled workforce fit for an uncertain future is urgent, ATSE and its Fellows are in prime position to foster evidence-based action between government, industry and academia.”
Dr Woodthorpe is also a Fellow of the Australian Institute of Company Directors and has been a professional director for over two decades.
She has been director of the Olivia Newton-John Cancer Research Institute, Bioplatforms Australia (NCRIS), the Australian Renewable Energy Agency, Vast Solar, and listed companies Sirtex and Anteotec.
She previously chaired the federal government’s National Climate Science Advisory Committee and currently chairs its “Vision 2040” committee reviewing the strategy for investment in medical research for the next two decades.
Dr Woodthorpe said “Australia is waking up to” the critical role of science and technology as the climate crisis worsens and the pandemic continues.
“During the pandemic the public demanded science-based decision-making to protect lives and Livelihoods,” she said.
“There is a resurgence in realising the value that science and evidence have in informing better decisions and outcomes. This extends from public health through to digital security, addressing climate change and preserving our unique biodiversity which is threatened by intensifying fires and floods.”
Dr Woodthorpe said ATSE plays a critical role in providing authoritative advice and more will be needed as Australia challenges and opportunities to improve sustainability and prosperity.
“Put simply — we need more applied scientists, engineers and technologists at both the political and industry decision-making tables,” she said
Current ATSE president Professor Hugh Bradlow’s six year tenure will conclude at the end of this year.
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