RMIT Chancellor, Dr Ziggy Switkowski AO has been made a Special Fellow of the Australian Academy of Science.
The Australian Academy of Science has announced the election of 20 new Fellows and one Special Fellow, recognising their outstanding contributions to science and scientific research.
Business leader, nuclear physicist and RMIT Chancellor, Dr Switkowski was recognised by his election as a Special Fellow, for his advocacy of science and technology at the highest levels.
Dr Switkowski joins a long list of Australia’s scientific luminaries, such as geologist and Antarctic explorer Sir Douglas Mawson, physicist Sir Mark Oliphant, virologist Professor Frank Fenner, molecular biologist Professor Suzanne Cory, and Nobel Prize winner Professor Brian Schmidt, as Academy Fellows.
The Australian Academy of Science is a private organisation of Australia’s leading research scientists, elected for their personal contributions to science.
Dr Switkowski was appointed an Officer in the Order of Australia in 2014 for distinguished service to the community, particularly tertiary education, administration, scientific organizations and the telecommunications sector, to business and to the arts.
Dr Switkowski said his science and research training had stood him in good stead in his business career.
“It taught me how to work in and lead multi-disciplinary teams, solve complex problems. It left me with the ability to make objective, evidence-based decisions,” he said.
“Being able to make decisions without letting your opinions or ideology get in the way really does matter.
“Modern life is full of challenges and complex issues that require resolution – energy, the climate, the future of education (nationally and globally), employment, the economy – smart innovation is the key to creating a sustainable future.
“The future will be defined by science. Our continuing prosperity and competitiveness will be built upon technology and our ability to innovate and adapt. The next decade of economic growth must be innovation-led.
“Growth of our economy and future prosperity will most likely be driven by technology, not by economists or politicians."
RMIT Vice-Chancellor and President, Martin Bean CBE, congratulated Dr Switkowski on receiving the honour.
"It's a credit to him that the science community has recognised his unique contribution.
?“Students, staff and alumni can be rightly proud that the university is led by someone who combines business acumen and scientific rigour on a global stage.?"
Academy President, Professor Andrew Holmes said the new Fellows had significantly advanced knowledge and developed new approaches to areas as diverse as the physics of stars, new techniques and treatments for tropical diseases, lupus, diabetes, cancer and kidney disease, advanced fuel cells made out of new materials, new ways to analyse genes, new plastics technology, and brain wiring.
“Election to the Academy celebrates excellence and recognises contributions to science of the highest order,” he said.
“Each of these research scientists has changed the way we think and made a significant and lasting contribution to his or her field.”
The Academy now has 503 Fellows and Corresponding Members, from across the breadth of the natural sciences.
New Fellows were admitted to the Academy in a formal ceremony on Monday 25 May in Canberra, and gave presentations about their work on Tuesday 26 May at the Academy’s annual flagship event, Science at the Shine Dome.
Dr Switkowski said he was deeply honoured by this recognition.
“I very much look forward to working with the Academy and its members in promoting education, promoting skill building with students, and also with companies and some of our institutions, and ensuring that there is informed and respected commentary on technical issues of the day that help shape our community into the future.”
Dr Switkowski is currently Chairman of NBNCo, and several other organisations. He has previously served as Chairman of ANSTO, Optus and TELSTRA, and chaired the Federal Government’s Review Panel on Uranium Mining, Processing and Nuclear Power.