Dr Zakieh Khorshidi, 2021–22

Zakieh Khorshidi

Dr Zakieh Khorshidi

Zakieh has more than 10 years of experience evaluating the technical and economic feasibility of novel technologies across various sectors from energy and environment to food and medical industries. The focus of her research has been mainly on clean hydrogen and renewable electricity. For her PhD, she worked on evaluating the techno-economic feasibility of using bio-power in the Australian electricity sector considering the impact of climate policies. 
Zakieh has a strong interest in the development of policies related to clean energy, emission reduction, and climate change. She is also interested in developing policies related to diversity awareness and gender equality.

What were you researching before you started as a Science Policy Fellow?
Over the past 10 years, I worked mainly on evaluating the technical and economic feasibility of novel clean energy technologies while taking into account the impact of climate policies on setting the energy market’s direction. For my PhD, I worked on using bio-power in the electricity sector in combination with CO2 capture and storage to move to the negative emission space. After finishing my PhD, the focus of my work was mainly on evaluating the feasibility of novel clean hydrogen production technologies including decomposing methane to hydrogen and biogas to hydrogen.

How has your research background helped you contribute to policy development?
The transferable skill set I have gained through years of working in academia and industry is a valuable skill set for policy development. These transferrable skills include critical thinking, problem solving and the ability to explain complicated issues in a simple language, understandable for a wide range of audiences. In addition, I believe my engineering background would enable me to quantify difficult-to-measure items and contribute in developing more evidence-based policies.

How has the program changed your career aspirations?
The Australian Science Policy Fellowship has provided me with a great opportunity to transition from my engineering and research role to the very different world of policy development. The exposure to policy development has allowed me to identify my knowledge gaps and provided me with the resources to gain the required skills through the mentorship and support provided under this program.
What is your favourite part about working in a policy role in the Australian Public Service?
I am quite new to the program, so maybe it is too early to answer this question. However, in the past two months, what has really impressed me is the level of collaboration across different departments. It is obvious that they all are working for one big goal. In addition, everyday there is something new to learn, and I truly enjoy this continuous learning. I have just started working with the grant office, and it is interesting to learn how the grants are designed as I previously was on the other side of the fence, applying for grants.