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New members appointed to National Science and Technology Advisory Council

17 December 2018

Six of the nation’s most prominent scientists, including a Nobel Prize winner, have been appointed as board members of Australia’s peak science advisory body.

Professors Genevieve Bell, Barbara Howlett, Geordie Williamson and Debra Henly will join Professors Brian Schmidt and Ian Frazer on the National Science and Technology Council, which was announced recently by the Liberal National Government to boost jobs and Australian economic growth.

Announcing the appointments, the Minister for Industry, Science and Technology Karen Andrews said the members brought an impressive range of expertise to the council.

"The six new members have outstanding records in areas that show how much science and technology matters to our lives – from understanding our universe, to cutting edge artificial intelligence and productive agriculture, as well as high quality education and healthcare," Minister Andrews said.

"They will be an invaluable source of expert advice to the government on the key science and technology issues facing the nation, ensuring we receive the best independent advice possible.

"The establishment of the council further demonstrates the Morrison Government’s support for science and scientific endeavour, a commitment underlined with a $2.4 billion investment in science in the 2018-19 Budget."

Other members of the Council are Prime Minister Scott Morrison (Chair of the Council), Minister Andrews (Deputy Chair), Australia’s Chief Scientist Dr Alan Finkel AO (Executive Officer), and Dr Larry Marshall, the Chief Executive of the CSIRO.

Brief biographies:

  • Professor Brian Schmidt is Vice Chancellor of the Australian National University. He is an astrophysicist and, among other honours, was awarded the 2011 Nobel Prize for Physics.
  • Professor Ian Frazer is an immunologist at the University of Queensland. He is recognised as co-inventor of the technology enabling the HPV vaccines, used worldwide to help prevent cervical cancer.
  • Professor Genevieve Bell is Director of the 3A Institute at the ANU. She is a cultural anthropologist and technologist, best known for her work at the intersection of cultural practice and technology development.
  • Professor Barbara Howlett is a leading international fungal plant pathologist at the University of Melbourne.
  • Professor Geordie Williamson is director of the University of Sydney Mathematical Research Institute. He is a fellow of both the Royal Society and the Australian Academy of Science. 
  • Professor Debra Henly is Deputy Vice Chancellor (Academic) of Griffith University in Queensland, a researcher in metabolism and diabetes and highly-awarded pioneer of innovative learning and teaching techniques.

The Council will focus on the key science and technology challenges facing Australia, providing expert advice on issues such as health, emerging technologies and education. The Coalition recognises the importance of science, research and technology in improving the competitiveness of Australian businesses and driving more local job creation, and the Council forms part of our plan to further grow these sectors.

Media contact: Minister Andrews' office: 02 6277 7070