Australian science champion named next President of Australian Academy of Technological Sciences & Engineering

6 October 2022

FWI New President Woodthorpe

Dr Katherine Woodthorpe AO FTSE

Scientist, industry leader and climate champion, Dr Katherine Woodthorpe AO FTSE will become the next President of the Australian Academy of Technological Sciences and Engineering (ATSE), Australia’s premier organisation for engineers, technologists and applied scientists.

“It is an honour and a privilege to be elected President by over 900 of Australia’s brightest minds in science, technology, engineering and mathematics,” said Dr Woodthorpe. “At a time when more ambitious climate action is crucial and building a skilled workforce fit for an uncertain future is urgent, ATSE and its Fellows are in prime position to foster evidence-based action between government, industry and academia.

“Australia is awakening to the critical role of science and technology in shaping a better world,” said Dr Woodthorpe.

“During the pandemic – the public demanded science-based decision-making to protect lives and livelihoods. There is a resurgence in realising the value that science and evidence have in informing better decisions and outcomes. This extends from public health through to digital security, addressing climate change and preserving our unique biodiversity which is threatened by intensifying fires and floods.

“The Academy plays a critical role providing independent and authoritative advice to support government and industry decision-making. We have a golden opportunity to bring these diverse perspectives to political leaders and CEOs and create better results for Australia’s sustainability and prosperity.

“Put simply – we need more applied scientists, engineers and technologists at both the political and industry decision-making tables.

Dr Woodthorpe will become the first woman to lead the Academy in its 47-year history and takes up her tenure on January 1 2023. She succeeds Professor Hugh Bradlow FTSE, whose six-year Presidency of the Academy has seen a growth in its capacity to provide evidence-based advice, and across a strong suite of programs designed to nurture a diverse Australian STEM-skilled workforce.

“I am incredibly proud to lead an Academy that is pro-actively shaping Australia’s technology-led transition to net zero emissions; supporting our research workforce and industry to translate and commercialise their innovations into economic benefits; and preparing our children for whatever the future brings by exciting them in STEM and supporting their career journeys,” said Dr Woodthorpe.

A Varied Career Journey

Born in Malaysia, raised in Hong Kong, Katherine was deeply inspired by her teachers growing up. She graduated with an honours degree in chemistry, at the University of Manchester, then a PhD in chemistry from the University of Leicester and has earned an Honorary Doctorate from the University of Technology Sydney. Her first job was in a laboratory in Kalgoorlie in Western Australia at a time when women were discriminated against and this experience shaped her varied career journey from international sales executive through to leading Australia’s largest and most innovative organisations spanning healthcare, renewable energy, climate change, finance and research. Through all the arcs in her distinguished career, Dr Woodthorpe has consistently been an advocate for recognising the unsung leadership of women in STEM and for addressing the underrepresentation of women in leadership and chairing roles.

Dr. Woodthorpe’s Track-Record

Dr Katherine Woodthorpe AO FTSE is one of Australia’s most influential people in innovation. She is also a Fellow of the Australian Institute of Company Directors and has been a Fellow of ATSE since 2015. In 2017, she received an Order of Australia for her ongoing service to research and technology innovation in Australia.

She has been a professional director for over 20 years including as Chair of Natural Hazards Research Australia, the Antarctic Science Foundation and the HEARing Cooperative Research Centre. She has been a Director of the Olivia Newton-John Cancer Research Institute, Bioplatforms Australia (NCRIS), the Australian Renewable Energy Agency, Vast Solar, and listed companies Sirtex and Anteotech. She previously chaired the National Climate Science Advisory Committee and currently chairs the Government’s “Vision 2040” committee reviewing the strategy for investment in medical research for the next two decades.

Dr. Woodthorpe will be the 10th President of the Academy since its founding President Sir Ian McLennan KCMG KBE FTS FAA was elected in 1975. The President of the Academy is elected by its Fellows for a three-year term.

Dr Katherine Woodthorpe is available for interview

Media contact
Edwyn Shiell
Director, Communications & Outreach
0402 254 968

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The Australian Academy of Technological Sciences & Engineering is a Learned Academy of independent experts helping Australians understand and use technology to solve complex problems.