Science and engineering have been a continuing part of my life and work. I built a 20cm reflector telescope with a friend while at school – he became an astronomer. I have always been motivated by the peaceful uses of science and technology and how they can contribute to quality of life. This has expanded over time to working on the interface of science, society, and sustainability. My career focus has been “putting science and technology to work”.
This took me away from the “bench” (1977-1988); into management of people, teams, and outcomes (1987-1996); and strategy/leadership roles up to the end of 2020. I am now the founder of a start-up. I was privileged to participate in the transformation of science and technology in South Africa after Apartheid.
At the individual level I have a keen interest in how science and technology careers develop. In particular, the transition from the individual contributor to mentor/manager; and the equally interesting transition to sponsor/strategist.
I have experience in key policy domains including science and innovation, energy sources and systems, and the nuclear fuel cycle. The bulk of my career has been outside the University setting, in National Research Laboratories, including as CEO of ANSTO until recently. I try to remember that I am carbon-based lifeform on a planet with a carbon-challenged atmosphere. I wonder if artificial photosynthesis needs more attention and whether we understand the nitrogen cycle at all.
My continuing interests: the dialogue between traditional knowledge systems and science and technology; innovation (start-ups and policy frameworks) and energy futures. My commitment: the democratisation of science and engineering - including diversity and inclusion, and free access to published scholarly science and engineering.
I studied at the University of Cape Town and have a BSc (Chemistry) and a PhD (Engineering). I undertook post-doctoral research at the University of Leeds in ceramic materials. I was awarded an Honorary Doctorate by the University of Wollongong in 2017.