Dr Cathy Foley AO PSM, Australia’s Chief Scientist
Dr Foley commenced as Australia’s ninth Chief Scientist in January 2021.
Balbir Blassey, Head of Corporate R&D Operations 3M ANZ Region
Dr Foley was appointed to the role after a lengthy career at Australia’s national science agency, the CSIRO; she was appointed as the agency’s Chief Scientist in August 2018, the second woman to hold that role.
Dr Foley’s career in physics began with her PhD at Macquarie University on the semiconductor indium nitride. She and her colleagues were one of the first groups to carry out pioneering research that examined the properties of indium nitride in light-sensitive devices, the best-known application being white light emitting diodes used for household low energy lighting.
While working at CSIRO, Dr Foley made significant contributions to the development of a patented high temperature superconducting Josephson junction, a nanosized structure that is the critical component of the most sensitive detector of magnetic fields. She and her team have used these junctions in devices used for measuring magnetic fields, terahertz imaging (like superman vision), array antennas and high frequency communications receivers. Dr Foley and her team’s most successful application is the LANDTEM™ sensor system used to locate valuable deposits of minerals deep underground, such as nickel sulphide, silver and gold. This has led to mineral discoveries worth more than $6 billion.
Dr Foley’s scientific excellence and influential leadership have been recognised with numerous awards and fellowships, including being elected to the Australian Academy of Science in 2020, along with an Order of Australia for service to research science and to the advancement of women in physics. She was elected as a Fellow of the Australian Academy of Technological Science and Engineering in 2008 and was elected as an honorary Fellow of the Australian Institute of Physics in 2019.
She was awarded Agenda Setter of the Year in the Women’s Agenda Leadership Awards in 2019, the Australian Institute of Physics Medal for Outstanding Service to Physics in 2016, and the Clunies Ross Medal of the Australian Academy of Technological Science and Engineering in 2015. In 2014, she was awarded the International IEEE Award for Continuing and Significant Contributions to Applied Superconductivity, and in 2013 she was named `Woman of the Year’ by the NSW Government.
At CSIRO, she led the development of a Quantum Technology Roadmap for Australia in 2020 championed emerging areas of scientific research, and has been a high-profile commentator on the opportunities presented by science and technology for Australia’s economic recovery and future resilience.
Dr Foley has a passion for advancing scientific research and has held various roles, including member of the Prime Minister’s Science, Engineering and Innovation Council, President of the Australian Institute of Physics, President of Science and Technology Australia, Editor-in-Chief of Superconductor Science and Technology journal and Council Member for Questacon.
Dr Foley is an inspiration to women in STEM across the globe and is committed to tackling gender equality and diversity in the science sector. Throughout her career she has strived to create an environment that embraces the full human potential of both men and women for wellbeing and economic benefit and for equality.
Mr Balbir Blassey is 3M’s Head of Corporate R&D Operations for Australia & New Zealand. He is responsible for R&D, application development, regulatory and quality assurance strategies across health care, safety, industrial, transportation and retail market segments.
Michael Edwards, General Manager Boeing Research & Technology Australia
Over the last 26 years, Mr Blassey has developed expertise in innovation and commercialisation processes. Since 2006, he has pursed interests in health care and retail, where he has been responsible for leading and developing disruptive solutions.
Apart from his diverse roles in R&D Operations, Mr Blassey lead a marketing team to support infection prevention and wound management portfolios. Mr Blassey has also been instrumental in supporting PHD programs with a variety of unviersities from 2014 to 2016 and collaborated very closely with tertiary institutions. His professional interest includes technology commercialisation and technology roadmap development and diversification.
Michael Edwards is the General Manager of Boeing Research & Technology – Australia and carries executive responsibility for the delivery of Boeing’s research portfolio in the region. He oversees a highly collaborative research program focussed on the growth and prosperity of the Boeing Australia business units. BR&T – Australia is the largest international research centre for Boeing outside of the US and works with the best aerospace research institutions around the country to deliver advanced technologies into new or enhanced Boeing products and services.
Prior to joining Boeing in 2011 Michael worked with the Commonwealth Scientific & Industrial Research Organisation for 11 years, including an overseas posting as Senior Technical Advisor to Boeing based in Seattle from 2005 – 2008.
Prof Peter Høj AC, Vice-Chancellor and President - The University of Adelaide
Prior to CSIRO he worked for some 15 years in the plastics, chemicals and petrochemicals industries in Australia. Michael is a Fellow of the Australian Academy of Technology & Engineering (ATSE).
Professor Peter Høj AC has over 20 years’ senior leadership experience in higher education and research and is the current Vice-Chancellor and President of the University of Adelaide.
He was educated at the University of Copenhagen, majoring in biochemistry and chemistry, and has a Master of Science degree in biochemistry and genetics, and a PhD in photosynthesis.
A member of the Australian Government’s University Foreign Interference Taskforce, Professor Høj was awarded the Companion of the Order of Australia (AC) in 2019 for “eminent service to higher education and to science, particularly to the commercialisation of research, and to policy development and reform”.
Professor Høj is a Fellow of Academies in Australia, the USA and Denmark, and has been awarded honorary doctorates from institutions including the University of Adelaide, University of South Australia, and University of Copenhagen.
In addition to his academic leadership roles, Professor Høj is a Board Member of Wine Australia and a Trustee of the Australian Cancer Research Foundation. His previous Board roles include the Australian Medical Research Advisory Board for the Medical Research Future Fund, Member of the Australian Human Rights Commission Leadership Council on Cultural Diversity, Group of Eight (including Chair in 2017), Universities Australia, CSIRO, Business SA and South Australian Health and Medical Research Institute.