Kerrie Wilson appointed Qld chief scientist

Brandon How

Conservation expert Professor Kerrie Wilson has been named Queensland’s new chief scientist after an almost year-long search by the state government.

Professor Wilson, who is currently the Queensland University of Technology’s (QUT) pro vice-chancellor (sustainability and research integrity), will begin the role in November.

She replaces interim chief scientist and agriculture, environmental systems monitoring and modelling expert Bronwyn Harch, who was appointed in October last year.

At the time of Professor Harch’s appointment, the government expected to find a permanent chief scientist by the end of April.

Professor Wilson said she is determined to help build Queensland’s scientific reputation by delivering solutions to local and global issues.

“Our collaborations with many national and international scientific organisations, dealing with global issues such as sustainability, renewable energy, and combating the effects of climate change, will deliver benefits on a local, national, and international level,” she said.

Professor Kerrie Wilson. Image: QUT

Professor Wilson is “particularly interested in applied resource allocation problems, such as how to invest limited resources to protect or restore biodiversity and what sociopolitical and institutional factors influence investment success in conservation,” according to QUT.

Prior to joining QUT at the start of 2019, Professor Wilson worked at the University of Queensland for more than 10 years, including two years as director of the Australian Research Council (ARC) Centre of Excellence for Environmental Decisions and as an ARC future fellow for almost six years.

She has also previously been director of conservation at the Nature Conservancy, a global environmental not-for-profit, and the Australian Natural Sciences Commissioner for UNESCO.

Among the several national science awards she has won, Professor Wilson won the Prime Minister’s Prize for Life Scientist of the Year in 2018.

Professor Wilson said she is delighted to be appointed to the role and said that all Queenslanders should be proud of the state’s “leading-edge scientific strengths, across the many fields of science, and our outstanding strengths in both fundamental and applied research”.

Her appointment was announced by Environment minister Leanne Linard during a Parliamentary Estimates hearing on Friday. The office supporting the whole of government role sits within the Department of Environment and Science.

In a statement, Ms Linard congratulated Professor Wilson on her appointment and said she looks forward to welcoming her into the role.

“Professor Wilson has had a distinguished career in leadership positions with some of our most respected scientific institutions and, as a reputable environmental researcher, makes an ideal appointment as our chief scientist,” Ms Linard said.

“As Queensland continues to respond to the threat of climate change and its impact on our environment and wider society, Professor Wilson’s knowledge and experience will be key.

“Her work in ecosystem services and biodiversity conservation, conservation in production landscapes, and conservation decision making in socio-ecological systems, will also play a key role in helping Queensland achieve the best outcomes in these areas.

“As chief scientist, her expertise and track record in driving collaboration with national and international stakeholders will ensure Queensland remains at the forefront of science.”

Do you know more? Contact James Riley via Email.

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