Cat, 2019–20


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

I was a university lecturer, so I enjoyed both teaching students and carrying out research. My teaching and research involved investigating ecology, evolution and genetics to solve real-world problems. For instance, I improved captive breeding programs, defined fisheries stocks for government, and helped conserve the world’s largest animal – the blue whale. I taught students to become the next generation of problem-solvers. I also communicated to the public, media, managers and stakeholders to make an impact.

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

I was given two six-month rotations within the Department of Industry, Innovation and Science. My first rotation involves developing and implementing policy and programs in the Australian Space Agency. For example, I’m helping deliver the Australian Government investment of $150 million for Australian businesses and researchers to join NASA’s Moon to Mars endeavour. My second rotation is in the Remediation Policy Section of the department, which involves managing policy and regulations around the environmental rehabilitation of mine sites.

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

Research involves considering a question or problem, collecting and analysing evidence, reaching a conclusion or solution, and carrying it out or communicating it. Experience gathered from research can be used anywhere. My scientific perspective and skills have been extremely valuable for developing and implementing policies that benefit Australia.

How has the program changed your career aspirations?

It is easy to get stuck in a comfort zone and a narrow vision of your career. The program has opened my eyes to possibilities that I never previously considered. It feels like I’m doing Honours all over again - I’m learning and carrying out new and exciting things - but this time round I bring to the table scientific skills that are valued and can be uncommon in the public sector. I’m excited about where this new career direction may take me!

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

It’s fun! I really enjoy being kept on my toes, doing new things, working with wonderful people, and always learning. For instance, I with others may do research and consult with stakeholders on a topic or issue that has arisen, write a summary and proposed actions for the Minister to consider, and then implement the chosen action. It is satisfying and I am making a difference.