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Physicist appointed as CSIRO chief scientist

Australia’s national science agency has appointed Dr Cathy Foley to the position of CSIRO chief scientist – a unique role which will help champion science, its impact and contribution to the world.

Foley is a world-renowned physicist and science leader most noted for her work developing superconducting devices and systems which have assisted in unearthing more than $6 billion in minerals worldwide.

Foley will start in the role at the end of September.

She said her priority will be promoting science, STEM and women in science.

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“Australia’s future prosperity will be fuelled by science. Science which creates new industries, new jobs and shapes the minds and aspirations of our future leaders,” said Foley.

“We can’t keep thinking about science as something which is locked away in a lab. It connects and drives everything we touch and do. I’m looking forward to not just spreading the word, but helping shape the science agenda and raising the profile of the role of women in STEM,” she said,

Foley is currently the deputy director and science director of CSIRO’s manufacturing business unit.

She has been an advocate for women in science, for the communication of science and science education over the past 30 years.

She also helped create LANDTEM, a technology which uses superconductors to detect minerals deep underground.

In 2015, Cathy and her team were awarded the Clunies Ross award for the innovation.

CSIRO chief executive Dr Larry Marshall said Foley was an incredible leader and scientist.

“Cathy is a great contributor, with a passion for turning excellent science into powerful solutions for Australia,” he said.

“I am looking forward to seeing her make this role her own, and bringing the voice of CSIRO science to help Australia navigate a path to prosperity through global disruption,” said Marshall.

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 also awarded the NSW Premier’s Award for Woman of the Year.

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