RMIT commercial research leader Sharath Sriram takes reigns at STA

Joseph Brookes
Senior Reporter

Influential industry group Science and Technology Australia will have completely new leadership next year, with Professor Sharath Sriram on Tuesday taking the reigns as president as the search for a chief executive gets underway.

Professor Sriram, who works with the Functional Material and Microsystems team within RMIT’s School of Engineering, is regarded as a commercialisation expert and link point, having created more than $6 million in commercial partnerships for his university.

He was elected as president elect a year ago and on Tuesday took over as president from Professor Mark Hutchinson, who served a full two-year term.

RMIT’s Professor Sharath Sriram with Science and Industry minister Ed Husic. Image: STA

Professor Sriram said it is an honour to lead Science and Technology Australia (STA) and he would look to bring the “full breadth” of the STEM community together amid a renewed focus from policy makers on innovation.

“To be a nation of creators and not just consumers, Australia needs robust investment to support the full pipeline of STEM programs from ideas, through to research, validation, prototyping, and deployment,” he said.

“We also need to secure the stability and career development of early- and mid-career researchers – and drive transformative changes in STEM education from the very earliest years of learning.”

Professor Sriram has a team at RMIT of nearly 50 staff researching and developing technology including smart bedding products for aged-care support, a wearable for continuous molecular monitoring, and miniature biosensors for monitoring respiratory illnesses.

The collaboration with Sleeptite on a smart bedding product for aged care last year won the Digital Health and Health Tech Award at the InnovationAus Awards for Excellence.

He takes the helm at STA, which now represents around 115,000 scientists and technologists and is considered an increasingly influential voice on policy. STA also runs programs like Science Meets Parliament, Superstars of STEM, and STA STEM Ambassadors.

The group’s membership base has expanded significantly in recent years under outgoing chief executive Misha Schubert and former president Mark Hutchinson.

Ms Shubert last week announced plans to leave the group this year to lead a new superannuation policy and lobby group.

Professor Hutchinson will co-chair a new STA Bench-to-Boardroom initiative committee along with STA Governance Chair Jas Chambers under Professor Sriram’s leadership.

“Mark has been a truly outstanding and vibrant leader for STA and a powerful advocate for the sector,” Sriram said.

“Under his deeply influential leadership, STA’s advocacy has forged transformative changes to our research and commercialisation ecosystem and been a catalyst for change for the country.”

Do you know more? Contact James Riley via Email.

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