WA's Chief Scientist
The Chief Scientist of Western Australia is an independent advisor to the State Government providing advice on topics that are important to the future of science in Western Australia.
Reporting directly to the Minister for Science, the Chief Scientist of Western Australia is supported by the Office of Science.
About our Chief Scientist
Professor Peter Klinken is a leading Western Australian medical research scientist, highly regarded for his work in advancing the understanding of genes involved in leukaemia, cancer and anaemia. His many research achievements include the discovery of a gene that supresses the growth of tumours.
After obtaining his PhD from The University of Western Australia, he undertook research at the US National Institutes of Health in Washington and the Walter and Eliza Hall Institute in Melbourne.
His previous roles have included Professor in Clinical Biochemistry at The University of Western Australia; Director of Research at the Royal Perth Hospital; and the Director of the Harry Perkins Institute of Medical Research (previously the Western Australian Institute for Medical Research).
Under his stewardship, the Perkins Institute attracted world-class national and international researchers to the State and made numerous acclaimed medical discoveries. He also spear-headed the development of two new state-of-the-art medical research facilities, Perkins North in Nedlands (QEII Medical Centre) and Perkins South in Murdoch (Fiona Stanley Hospital).
Professor Klinken brings a wealth of knowledge and expertise to the role of Chief Scientist. His input will support the Government in growing the Stateâ€™s science industries to achieve future prosperity for Western Australians.
On Tuesday 8th March 2011 we passed a very important milestone for women all around the world. It was International Womenâ€™s Day and this yearâ€™s focus was on equal access to education, training and science and technology â€“ an inclusive pathway to work for women.
In my role as WA's Chief Scientist, I recently travelled to Christmas Island visiting the Christmas Island District High School, which won the Department of Educationâ€™s 2010 Award of WA Science School of the Year. It is a first for a non-metropolitan school, and the first for a kindergarten-to-year 12 school.
Recently, I attended two important events in Perth, one on â€śYet to Beâ€ť Scientists and the other celebrating one of the most fundamental branches of science â€“ Chemistry.
Iâ€™ll be writing about the International Year of Chemistry in my next column so would Iâ€™d like to concentrate here on the â€śYet to Beâ€ť Scientists.
The second session of the National Youth Science Forum (NYSF) in Perth, for which I was honoured to give the Opening Speech, came to a close on Saturday 23 January.
The inaugural event in 2010 was the first time in 26 years a session had been held outside Canberra. Two similar NYSF events and a National Science Teachers Summer School (NSTSS) continue to be held in Canberra each January.
The Centre for Food and Genomic Medicine (CFGM) is helping WA is keep up with the international medical community in regards to obesity and diabesity, two conditions now so inextricably linked they are known as â€śdiabesityâ€ť.
THE past four weeks has been an exciting time, with a variety of Science awards and prizes announced.
I represented the WA Minister for Science, the Hon Bill Marmion at the Prime Ministerâ€™s Science Awards dinner which was held with considerable ceremony in the great Hall of Parliament House, Canberra.
The venue was amazing, and the attendees were a Whoâ€™s Who of Science in Australia, with the Prime Minister, the Hon. Julia Gillard; the Minister for Science, the Hon Kim Carr; a delegation from the Chinese Academy of Science; several Chief Scientists past and present; the Member for the federal seat of Brand, Gary Gray as well as those expert science communicators, Robyn Williams of the ABC Science Show and Bernie Hobbs of the New Inventors.
Dr. Kate Trinjastic of Curtin University and the WA Museum was awarded the Malcolm McIntosh Prize for Physical Sciences. Kate first qualified as a nurse then took on a degree in Physics. It is when she began to work with Dr. John Long, formerly of the WA Museum and Vice President of Research and Collections at the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County (the third largest natural History Museum in the US) that she moved onto the path that led her to this prestigious award.
The Gogo fish (Materpisces attenbourghii) is Western Australiaâ€™s fossil emblem. It was Kateâ€™s later work on this fossil using all scientific instruments, such as CT scanning and synchrotron light (which the Western Australian Government supported financially) to virtually dissect these fossils, preserving the remnants of soft tissue, revealing that the little fossil contained an embryo attached to its mother by an umbilical cord.
Then last week, the Minister Bill Marmion was keynote speaker at the WA Science Awards where Professor Mike Tobar was awarded the 2010 WA Scientist of the Year Award for his work on oscillators and precise measurement systems. These elegant and precise instruments are critical to â€śsuccessful radar, telecommunications operation, and defence applications and are the basis for extending knowledge in fundamental physics.â€ť
In an area that is dear to my heart, Secondary and Primary Science Educator of the Year awards were awarded to two inspirational teachers, Lynette Hillier from Newton Moore Senior High School in Bunbury and Mrs Brooke Topelberg from Westminster Primary School.
The WA Education Awards were another highlight of the month with the Christmas Island District High School winning the WA Science School of the Year Award, sponsored by ExxonMobil. The school reports that by integrating a literacy focus into the Science program, they are seeing benefits both in reading and in Science. I am looking forward to visiting Christmas Island and the Cocos and Keeling Islands in 2011 to extend my support for these excellent regional WA science programs.
On top of all these wonderful WA achievements, Epichem, a drug discovery company based at Murdoch Universityâ€™s Tech Park was awarded the Department of Innovation, Industry, Science and Research Small Business Award at the 48th Australian Export Awards in Sydney on December 1.
The company draws on its expertise in synthetic and medicinal chemistry to formulate novel solutions for its clients. The Australian Export Awards website states that the 12 winners â€śhave generated more than A$3.5 billion in export earnings in the past year, and employed over 13,000 people.â€ť
Congratulations to all the winners, and to everyone who has been recognised this year for contributions to Australian Science.
I spent two days in Geraldton recently where I was the keynote speaker at the Mid-West Science Summit. The summit was organised by the wonderful Mark Canny from the Midwest Development Corporation and sponsored by a wide range of government and non-government organisations.
This is Geraldtonâ€™s third Science Summit and it highlighted once again the huge opportunities that Smart Science is bringing to the region. The initiatives described included the Square Kilometre Array; the National Broadband Network; innovations in remote housing delivery and construction; the state location information strategy and so much more.
Dr Michael Cheah from the Batavia Institute of Technology wound up the sessions with an inspiring presentation on their goal to train the future Marine Scientists of the area. What a finish!
I spent the second day visiting schools in the area, including St Francis Xavier Primary School, where they have been learning about renewable energy; Geraldton Grammar School, where they have been studying astronomy and The Leaning Tree Community School. I also participated in an interview with Meekatharra School of the Air, where I discussed my research work as a zoologist. The students seemed quite taken with the profession, with one opining that she was going to be a zoologistâ€¦or a chef!
I met with staff at the Department of Environment and Conservation (DEC), who work on programs aimed at ensuring the survival of rare and endangered plants, and staff at the Department of Agriculture and Food (DAFWA) â€“ who deal with climate variation as it affects local issues â€“ gave presentations.
There is so much exciting Science and Science Education going on in the Geraldton-Greenough region and it was a privilege to contribute.