Australasian Science: Australia's authority on science since 1938

The Funneled Web

Commentary on Australia's Higher Education and research policies.

Do Chief Scientific Advisors Speak Only to the Hand?

By Alex Reisner

Does the Chief Scientist have any influence on the government or Opposition?

Whether he or she is designated the government's Chief Scientific Advisor or Chief Scientist there continues to be debate as to whether or not the position is of any consequence when it comes to affecting the policies of the government of the day.

Colin Macilwain writing in the August 30, 2012 issue of Nature has no illusions:

To be an Effective Chief Scientific Advisor You've Got to be Lucky: Robert May

By Alex Reisner

Despite the hype about Prof Ian Chubb's appointment last year, the Chief Scientist doesn't have the influence afforded to his UK counterpart.

Just on 11 months ago (May 5, 2011) Professor Robert May (Lord May of Oxford, OM, AC, FRS, FAA, former Chief Scientific Advisor to Her Majesty's Government, former President of the Royal Society ) addressed the annual dinner of the Australian Academy of Science. And it was three weeks before that the then Minister for Industry, Innovation, Science and Technology, Senator Kim Carr, announced that the just retired vice-chancellor of the Australian National University, Professor Ian Chubb, would take over the Chief Scientist's role for the Australian Government.

Unhealthy Science?

By Alex Reisner

Ian Dobson Delivers the First of Three Studies Commissioned by Australia's Chief Scientist.

In 1999, the Australian Council of Deans of Science (ACDS) published a report commissioned from Dobson and Calderon, Trends in Science Education to determine the participation in university science courses from 1989 -1997. According to the ACDS: "Dobson and Calderon concluded that, 'short term excesses in supply (of graduates) may not reflect the long term outlook' (p76). The report also demonstrated, in a stark fashion, the decline of enrolments in the 'enabling sciences' of Mathematics, Physics and Chemistry over the past ten years."

Teaching Real Science

By Alex Reisner

Are we teaching difficult concepts too early in the science curriculum?

Bruce Alberts is Editor in Chief of the journal Science, Professor in the Department of Biochemistry and Biophysics, University of California, San Francisco and was President of the US National Academy of Sciences from 1993 - 2005.

The Wonderful World of CSIRO

By Alex Reisner

To lose one outstanding researcher, Dr Clark, may be regarded as a misfortune; to lose two looks like carelessness, but to lose THREE?

January 2006 -- Fred Prata is declared redundant to the requirements of CSIRO's Division of Marine and Atmospheric Research by then divisional chief Dr Greg Ayers. At the time The Age's Jo Chandler wrote: "he was told his project was finished... [and] like six others since being snapped up by institutions in the US, Europe and elsewhere in Australia — he had no shortage of offers. "The group in Norway offered me a position to do the research I want to do with the European Space Commission."