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Australia gets another part-time science advisor

More than eight months after Australia's last Chief Scientist, Robin Batterham, stepped down from the post, the government has named Jim Peacock, president of the Australian Academy of Science, as his successor. Peacock, a plant scientist, has been given a ringing endorsement from many in the research world. John Mullarvey, CEO of the Australian Vice-Chancellor's Committee, for example, said he had made a strong contribution to science both nationally and internationally. ?I am sure [he] will

By | March 1, 2006

More than eight months after Australia's last Chief Scientist, Robin Batterham, stepped down from the post, the government has named Jim Peacock, president of the Australian Academy of Science, as his successor. Peacock, a plant scientist, has been given a ringing endorsement from many in the research world. John Mullarvey, CEO of the Australian Vice-Chancellor's Committee, for example, said he had made a strong contribution to science both nationally and internationally. ?I am sure [he] will serve Australia well in the important position of Chief Scientist,? he said. Some Australian scientists are less impressed, however, that Peacock has taken the job on a part-time basis. Batterham had been linkurl:criticized;http://www.the-scientist.com/article/display/15537/ for sharing his time between the government post and a job with mining giant Rio Tinto. In fact, back in 2004, Peacock and the Australian Academy of Science had been among those who called for the post to be made full-time. But Peacock told The Australian newspaper this week that he didn?t expect to have the same problems, because he works with a publicly-funded organization, the CSIRO, and not a private firm. 'I think the general public will relate to the idea that someone working with what they regard as a national icon will be chief scientist,' he said. Peacock?s will involve advising government on issues like stem cell research, genetically modified food, energy and climate change. ?A full-time Chief Scientist would also be able to play a far more important role in promoting the strength and quality of Australian science and innovation, and would provide a more obvious role model for science students and scholars at all levels of the education system,? said Mullarvey.

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