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CSIRO welcomes new chief scientist

cathy foley csiro chief scientist
Dr Cathy Foley has been appointed as the next Chief Scientist (Source CSIRO)

Dr Cathy Foley, a world renowned physicist and scientific leader has been appointed as the chief scientist, with a focus on promoting STEM and women in science. 

Dr Cathy Foley, a world renowned physicist and scientific leader has been appointed as the chief scientist, with a focus on promoting STEM and women in science. 

Dr Foley is most noted for her work developing superconducting devices and systems that have assisted in unearthing over $6 billion in minerals worldwide.


"Australia’s future prosperity will be fuelled by science," Dr Foley said.

Currently serving as the deputy director and science director of CSIRO’s manufacturing business unit, Dr Foley has been an advocate for women in science, for the communication of science, and science education for the past 30 years.

She is credited with helping to create LANDTEM, a technology that uses superconductors to detect minerals deep underground. In 2015, Dr Foley and her team were awarded the prestigious Clunies Ross award for the innovation.

Dr Foley was awarded a Public Service Medal on Australia Day in 2003. In the same year, she won the Eureka Prize for the promotion of science.

In 2013, she was awarded the NSW Premier's Award for Woman of the Year. She is a fellow of the Institute of Physics in the UK, past-president of both the Australian Institute of Physics and Science and Technology Australia that represents 65,000 Australian scientists, a fellow of the Academy of Technological Sciences and Engineering (ATSE), and national winner of the Telstra Business Women’s Award for Innovation in 2009.


Dr Foley joined the CSIRO division of applied physics in 1985 as a national research fellow, being promoted to senior research scientist in 1991, principal research scientist in 1996, senior principal research scientist in 2000 and chief research scientist in 2008.

CSIRO chief executive Dr Larry Marshall described Dr Foley as an incredible leader and scientist, saying, “Cathy is a great contributor, with a passion for turning excellent science into powerful solutions for Australia.”

As the nation's leading scientific organisation, CSIRO covers a variety of research areas including specialised focus on:

  • Astronomy and space; 
  • Environment, animals and plants;
  • Health and medical research;
  • Mining and manufacturing;
  • Farming and food production; 
  • Information technology; and 
  • Renewables and energy.

CSIRO's Data61 has conducted a variety of projects with Defence, which have seen improvements to armour technologies, autonomous robots and critical security software for unmanned aerial vehicles, enhanced the nation's cyber security capabilities through close collaboration with the Defence Science and Technology Group, and enhanced the security of cloud computing resources. 

Dr Foley will begin the role at the end of September. 

Defence Connect spoke with Dr Foley in late 2017 to discuss the opportunities for SME growth and development through collaboration with research organisations such as CSIRO. The full podcast can be accessed here

CSIRO welcomes new chief scientist
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