Impact Blog

Research expertise can guide our nation into the future

June 2020
Dr Alan Finkel AO

Australia’s Chief Scientist, Dr Alan Finkel AO, officially launched the ACGR Graduate Research Impact Blog on Monday June 29th 2020. He emphasised that through a commitment to quality in the ‘deep dive’ into their research, our graduate researchers will develop the knowledge and skills to have great impacts on our nation.

Science is for all of us. It is the great servant of humanity.

Sometimes, through daring and determination, it helps to advance the cause of human progress.

The cardiac pacemaker, the bionic ear, the black box flight recorder, better Wi-Fi and medical ultrasound – all Australian inventions that have excited the entire world, and changed it forever.

And during emergencies, as we are currently witnessing, science is called upon abruptly to meet a pressing human need.

In all instances, the light of science is powered by decades of quality research.

With the work of graduate researchers being such a vital element of the global scientific effort, I am delighted to lend my support to the ACGR’s new ‘Graduate Research Impact Blog’.

As our nation grapples with unprecedented challenges — from bushfires to a global pandemic — Australians have increasingly turned to trusted research expertise.

And their faith has been rewarded thanks to decades of persistence and investment.

With the outbreak of COVID-19, I convened a Rapid Research Information Forum (RRIF) — comprising of leading scientists, researchers and innovators from across Australia and New Zealand — to collectively address pressing questions about the virus as they emerge.

It was only because we already had a truly excellent cohort of researchers, international experts in their field, trained through Australia’s research training system to be rigorous and evidence-based and committed to achieving great things, that the RRIF has been able to provide timely responses to Ministers and policymakers based on the best available multi-disciplinary evidence.

We were immersed in an environment where well trained and knowledgeable researchers, across a broad range of disciplines including science, health, engineering, humanities and social sciences, came together in common purpose to do exactly what their disciplines had trained them to do best.

And we have seen from our political leaders an appreciation of evidence-based scientific and health advice alongside economic and policy advice.

A respect for genuine experts.

And a hunger for ideas.

The challenge is to build upon this.

To put the focus on research expertise from across the disciplines to guide our nation into the future.

It rests on creating a pathway for researchers and policymakers to advance together and learn together, to make space for discussion within the wider ecosystem in which policy is developed, and to foster a mutual understanding and respect for each other.

In the interest of strengthening this continued partnership, and in the spirit of hope it generates, my office has been running a Science Policy Fellowships pilot program: offering a full year’s experience for mid-career scientists to work directly in government departments.

Since 2018, the program has provided a pathway for dozens of Fellows to receive on-the-job training in, and exposure to, policy development; contributing to the activities of existing teams and expanding the diversity of expertise in the Australian Public Service workforce.

Allowing graduate researchers to produce tangible results across a wide variety of host departments.

My hope is that ACGR’s Graduate Research Impact Blog will become another powerful platform for knowledge exchange between academics, graduate researchers and policymakers.

Ensuring the contributions of graduate researchers are not only valued for the new knowledge they bring, but also valued as a national asset.

Ensuring the light of science continues to shine brightly.

May the Force be with you.

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