2021-22 Australian Science Policy Fellow: Duncan
Duncan started life in policy, fell into science and finds himself back behind a policy desk. He loves solving problems and understanding complex systems. His favourite aspects of academia were the international collaboration, creative freedom and the big expensive toys. He completed a PhD at ANU elucidating photosynthetic processes and regulation. He worked further on this subject in Europe and back at ANU as a postdoc, before starting with the Fellowship program.
What were you researching before you started as a Science Policy Fellow?
During my PhD and the ensuing years working as a postdoc in southern Finland, and back here at ANU, I endeavoured to understand photosynthetic processes and regulation across a diverse range of photosynthetic organisms using a suite of molecular, physiological, biochemical and biophysical techniques.
How has your research background helped you contribute to policy development?
Photosynthetic processes function within intricate molecular feedbacks to ensure the system’s energy inputs and outputs remain in a delicately balanced equilibrium. Thinking of problems from multilateral perspectives helped me to understand photosynthetic regulation. I believe this to be analogous to considering and developing policy, where society represents an equilibrium within feedback mechanisms of ever increasing complexity. I hope my capacity to see, and articulate the bigger picture will help robust policy formation.
How has the program changed your career aspirations?
At this early stage it is difficult to speculate on career aspirations. There are not many permanent jobs, or those that include an EA, left in academia. So I think I should probably aim for a position like that, because I am terrible at managing my calendar.
What is your favourite part about working in a policy role in the Australian Public Service?
Working in the APS gives you ‘a peek behind the curtain’ at how Australia operates. Working within the system that helps lay the foundations of Australian society provides direct opportunities to make valuable contributions to how the country functions. Compared to academia, the impact of the work I do with the department is immediate. The issues I am helping to manage on a daily basis are in the news and effecting people’s lives. There are interesting problems to be solved, strategies to develop and resources at our disposal. I think that working in the APS can be what you make it.