2022-23 Australian Science Policy Fellow: Wil
Wil is a biotechnologist whose research focuses on identifying molecular approaches to tackle food crises worldwide. His work informs ways to enhance productivity in staple crops. He has a strong interest in translating scientific discoveries and developments into real world impact. He is excited to contribute his skills and experience to the policy development through the Fellowship.
What were you researching before you started as a Science Policy Fellow?
In my last role, I worked as a plant scientist with an international consortium of researchers to address food security by improving crop production. Among a variety of approaches, I was working to incorporate components of cyanobacteria (blue green algae) into plant chloroplasts with the aim of enhancing photosynthesis. Better photosynthetic efficiency, in theory, should improve crop yield and water use efficiency of the plants.
How has your research background helped you contribute to policy development?
Policy development and scientific research both aim to either solve a problem or improve a situation or outcome. The strong critical thinking and problem solving skills I have developed through plant science research have greatly assisted in being able to rapidly contribute in my current policy and briefing role. In my previous role, I also collaborated regularly and widely with other researchers and stakeholders on shared and complementary projects. This has helped a lot with stakeholder engagement, where we work with multiple internal and external agencies and industry partners to gather input or collaborate. I think my past experience has enabled me to grasp complex concepts relatively quickly, build strong rapport with peers and stakeholders.
How has the program changed your career aspirations?
Being part of this program has given me excellent exposure to government's work and processes. It has definitely widened my perspective of what kind of work I can contribute to with my skills. Learning new skills has always been a strong motivator across my career, and I have enjoyed being able to rapidly build new skills and apply existing skills in new contexts. I would like to continue this journey and explore how much I can learn and contribute in the APS.
What is your favourite part about working in a policy role in the Australian Public Service?
My favourite part is seeing how our work makes a tangible impact on society and directly or indirectly affects the lives of our community. It is also very inspirational to be part of discussions that contribute to the decision-making of government policies. I also really enjoy learning about a particular policy topic and can gain a deeper understanding of that field.