One Chief Scientist Hands Off To Another

Professor Ian Chubb is a neuroscientist, and until January 22, the Chief Scientist of Australia, a position he assumed in May of 2011.  He came to the position from a long career as a researcher and university administrator.  While the Australian executive branch recently went for a few months without a science minister, the Chief Scientist position has been a part of the Australian government for a few decades.

One of his achievements in office has been developing recommendations for a national strategy for science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM).  His successor, Doctor Alan Finkel, will be Chief Scientist as the Turnbull government seeks to implement such a strategy, something Australia has lacked.

Finkel will come to the office with training as an engineer and a neuroscientist.  He has also founded a scientific instruments company and is just ended several years of service as Chancellor of Monash University (located in Melbourne).  He has been outspoken about climate change and the need for more nuclear power.  Whether or not these positions will lead to conflict with the Turnbull government remains to be seen.  According to this Sydney Morning Herald article most of the search process was conducted prior to Prime Minister Turnbull assuming office.  While Turnbull may be sympathetic to Finkel’s positions, it is possible that Finkel could chafe at the advisory constraints of the role of Chief Scientist.