Australasian Science: Australia's authority on science since 1938

A Very Public Scientist

By Peter Pockley

Ian Lowe is proof of the value of scientists who apply their scientific training and experience to issues at the interfaces of science, technology, society and policy.

reminiScience draws on extended biographical interviews recorded by Peter Pockley for the Oral History Archives of the National Library of Australia. This is the 43rd interview in the series, which is progressively coming online at

The full text of this article can be purchased from Informit.

Emeritus Professor Ian Lowe describes himself as “a professional physicist who hasn’t maltreated atoms for more than 30 years. For most of my professional life I’ve been dealing with the large-scale issues of how science and technology affect our society, how we make choices about which science we do and how we use it and how, ideally, we use scientific understanding to make better decisions to improve the human condition.”

A Senior Lecturer from 1980 and later Professor of Science, Technology and Society over 20 years at Griffith University, he negotiated early retirement to become “a freelance adviser with a better work/life balance than possible in a full-time job. I revel in the opportunity to be able to have complete breaks from intellectual work by bushwalking or worrying about the weather for playing cricket.”

Maintaining a wiry frame at age 67, he claims to be “the oldest outswing serious bowler in Queensland cricket”, having played constantly since first grade in his university days. With a puckish demeanour, Lowe manages a frenetic pace across a wide range of publicly demanding roles.

He has been President of the Australian Conservation Foundation since 2004, a referee for the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (including involvement in the Copenhagen conference in 2009), and reviewer for the International Geosphere–Biosphere Program...

The full text of this article can be purchased from Informit.