2021-22 Australian Science Policy Fellow: James
James’ PhD focussed on the design of catalysts for the production of high value commodity chemicals in conjunction with industry partners. From there, James moved to the USA where he worked at the University of Michigan as a postdoctoral researcher with an emphasis on developing large scale batteries for renewable energy storage, and then spent over five years as a scientist in the oil and gas industry. Upon returning to Australia, James has spent time in regulatory roles in the APS with the Therapeutic Goods Administration and Chemicals Assessment Section. He is excited to bring his diverse experiences to bear on policy development in Australia.
What were you researching before you started as a Science Policy Fellow?
I completed my PhD in the field of chemistry with a focus on catalysis for the production of commodity chemicals for the plastics industry. From there, I spent over seven years in the USA conducting research in academia and industry with an emphasis on chemistry for enabling oil and gas and energy storage technologies.
How has your research background helped you contribute to policy development?
The ability to rapidly become familiar with new information and areas has really helped me to come up to speed with the work in my section and contribute in meaningful ways. The skills I have developed, through my academic and industrial research career, around engaging stakeholders, managing complex projects and distilling scientific information for a non-technical audience have also helped me tackle the transition to my role in delivering the National Water Grid Authority (NWGA) Science Program.
How has the program changed your career aspirations?
It is still early in the fellowship but I will say being embedded in the public service has given me a strong appreciation of the numerous career pathways the APS offers and a better appreciation of how they contribute and interact with the policy cycle.
What is your favourite part about working in a policy role in the Australian Public Service?
I have thoroughly enjoyed the opportunities to engage with premier research organisations and state and territory governments as part of the NWGA Science Program. Building rapport with our stakeholders to understand their needs and working with our procurement partners to deliver science projects has been incredibly rewarding.