Australia's Chief Scientist

Australian Science Policy Fellow: Sarah

What were you researching before you started as a Science Policy Fellow?

I recently graduated from my PhD in marine geochemistry. I studied how the chemistry of the shells reflected the temperature or other environmental conditions of the water they grew in. Once you understand this relationship, you can use it to study ancient shells to gain insights into past climatic conditions.

What policy area are you working on through the Science Policy Fellowship Program?

I work in the Department of Education and Training’s Research Policy and Programs Branch. We look after all things to do with research in Australia’s universities, developing policy and programs that support the sector. So far I’ve been working on issues to do with research training, open access, and research quality and excellence.

How has your research background helped you contribute to policy development?

My first-hand experience working within the research system gives me insight into the policy challenges that everyone here in the department are working hard to address. Knowing what it’s like to be at the other end of the system helps me contribute to decision-making that will produce the best outcomes for the sector.

How has the program changed your career aspirations?

Working with my team of committed colleagues has shown me how much work gets done ‘behind the scenes’ to support our researchers to do the best work they can do—working to ensure our research system stays strong is just as valuable as doing the research itself!

What is your favourite part about working in a policy role in the Australian Public Service?

I’ve enjoyed learning about how the policy wheels turn and interconnect across different areas within agencies and across different agencies, and working with a broad range of colleagues to contribute to policy development.