Go to top of page

Celebrating our people

Our extraordinary people bring our excellent science to life. They’re committed to fulfilling the purpose of our organisation and delivering the greatest national benefit. Many of our people receive awards from a variety of institutions and we’re incredibly proud of their achievements. This is a selection of their recognitions during 2019–20.

Member of the Order of Australia (AM)

Dr Peter Riddles (CSIRO Board member), for significant service to science, to biotechnology, and to innovation.

Officer of the Order of Australia (AO)

Dr Catherine Foley PSM (CSIRO Chief Scientist), for distinguished service to research science, to the advancement of women in physics, and to professional scientific organisations

Dr Brian Walker (CSIRO Fellow), for distinguished service to science, particularly to ecosystem ecology and research, and to professional scientific bodies.

Public Service Medal (PSM)

Associate Professor Matthew Hill (Principal Research Scientist CSIRO to 2019; joint position between CSIRO and Monash), for outstanding public service to materials development for industry and the Australian Defence Force.

Australian Academy of Science Fellowship

Dr Wenju Cai, a prominent world authority and leader on climate variability, ocean dynamics, ocean-atmosphere interactions, and climate change, for work leading to significant improvements in fundamental knowledge, climate simulations and climate projections.

Dr Catherine Foley PSM, for significant contributions to the understanding of superconducting materials and to the development of devices using superconductors to detect magnetic fields and locate valuable mineral deposits. Also, for significant contributions to Australian science as an adviser to federal and state governments and to numerous research and teaching institutions.

Dr Jenny Stauber, an international leader in ecotoxicology, particularly on metal contaminants in aquatic environments, for ground-breaking research on environmental risk assessment and protocols that are being applied worldwide.

Australian Academy of Science 2020 David Craig Medal

Dr Graeme Moad, for world leading polymer chemistry research ranging from fundamental chemistry to new materials for industrial uses, nanotechnology, organic electronics and bioapplications including new synthetic methods for the controlled synthesis of polymers that have revolutionised the field.

Australian Academy of Technology, Science and Engineering (ATSE) Fellowship

Dr Douglas Bock, for strategic vision, innovative technical design, research and expertise in constructing world-class radio telescopes with complex electronics and precision engineering including the Australian Square Kilometre Array Pathfinder.

Dr Helen Cleugh, for research discovery, delivery and leadership in atmospheric science to quantify the interactions between the land surface and the atmosphere, and their effects on weather, climate and hydrology, and water-use and carbon uptake.

Dr Martin Cole (CSIRO Scientist to 2020), for internationally recognised food science research and senior management with significant impactful commercial outcomes for novel food technology, diet programs and agricultural bioproducts.

Dr Andy Sheppard, for globally recognised scientific reputation and academic achievements in invasion ecology and classical biological control of weeds and expertise in risk analysis, biosecurity science and biodiversity enhancement.

Dr Surinder Singh, for pioneering the genetic modification of fatty acid composition in oilseed crops to provide improved nutritional value for human health and improved functionality for novel industrial end uses.

David and Valerie Solomon Award (ATSE) 2019 for research-industry collaboration

Associate Professor Matthew Hill, for developing metal organic frameworks with many applications from cleaning gases and liquids to mining and drug production. His research includes development and application of porous materials, flow chemistry, and lithium-sulfur batteries.

Web of Science Highly Cited Researchers 2019

Dr Wenju Cai, Dr Josep Canadell, Dr Peter Dodds, Dr Elizabeth Fulton, Dr Mario Herrero, Dr Alistair Hobday, Dr Kemal Kazan, Dr John Kirkegaard, Dr Evans Lagudah, Dr John Manners, Dr Craig Moritz, Dr Alan Richardson, Dr Jacob Tse-Wei Wang, Dr Brian Walker and Dr Yingping Wang were among the most cited authors in their respective fields of study. The Highly Cited Researchers list recognises leading researchers in the sciences and social sciences through the publications indexed in the Web of Science core collection that rank in the top one per cent by citations for their field and year.

2020 Telstra NSW Business Woman of the Year

New South Wales State Winner Dr Sarah Pearce, for her contribution to the development of the astronomy and space sectors and to delivering world-leading facilities for the international astronomy community.

The Chairman's Medal for Science Excellence

This award recognises teams who have made significant scientific or technological advances that create value for our customers via innovation that delivers positive impact for Australia.

The Tasmanian Atlantic salmon applied breeding program team received the medal for taking selective breeding from concept to world-leading in little over a decade. The breeding program now underpins the entire industry and has been central to its continuous growth. The salmon now grow 35 per cent faster and are 40 per cent more disease-resistant. Gains continue to accumulate at four to five per cent every year.

10 people standing in a line in front of a CSIRO banner. two people are holding the wooden awards
The Chairman’s Medal for Science Excellence winners: The Tasmanian Atlantic salmon applied breeding program team.

CSIRO Medal for Impact from Science

This award recognises exceptional individuals or teams who have created value for customers through innovation that delivers impact for Australia.

The Infrastructure Technologies – Fire Science Team was awarded the medal for the experimental design and completion of 14 full-scale fire tests to evaluate the performance of sprinkler designs for residential apartments. The research project provided evidence to support changes to Australia’s National Construction Code for the mandatory installation of fire sprinklers in low rise residential apartment buildings. This significantly contributed to improving life safety for occupants and firefighters.

CSIRO Medal for Lifetime Achievement

This award recognises individuals who have a record of sustained and meritorious achievements in science, technology and innovation or the support of science, technology and innovation.

Dr Andrew Ash’s career exemplifies a lifetime of collaborative service from science. His work in science has changed our understanding of rangeland management in Australia. He has led the development of climate adaptation science in Australia, built the development potential of Northern Australia and helped thousands of smallholders in Indonesia. Andrew has developed networks, colleagues and technologies to ensure his legacy lives on in the organisation.

Dr Andrew Ash at the CSIRO awards on stage receiving his award and shaking hands with Dr Larry Marshall
CSIRO Medal for Lifetime Achievement winner: Dr Andrew Ash.

Robin Wark started her career at our iconic ​​Parkes radio telescope in 1984. She then moved to the Australia Telescope Compact Array (ATCA) shortly after it opened in 1988, where she was at the forefront of observer support for the instrument. Robin is co-author of several of ATCA’s most highly cited papers. Robin oversaw the maintenance of ATCA’s Observing Archive from tape through to virtual server, retaining access to 99 per cent of data taken with the telescope. The data are still in use as astronomers supplement new observations or contrast them with the archive. Generations of astronomers have benefited from Robin’s support of our radio telescopes, obtaining better quality data with a greater scientific impact due to her careful eye and prompt support.

Dr Robin Wark wearing glasses, a white collared shir and a dark blue blouse. She is smiling at the camera.
CSIRO Medal for Lifetime Achievement winner: Robin Wark.

Protecting apartment residents from fires

The Infrastructure Technologies team, led by Mark Burgess, Alex Webb and Brett Roddy partnered with Fire and Rescue New South Wales (NSW) and the Fire Protection Association to protect the safety of Australians living in apartments. Prior to this significant research project, apartment buildings below 25 metres in height did not require the installation of fire sprinklers to protect occupants from the outbreak of fire.

Following a tragic Sydney apartment fire, Fire and Rescue NSW were asked to explore options for installing cost-effective sprinkler systems in all residential apartment buildings.

Three firemen dressed in full protective equipment. The person in front is holding an extinguisher at burning flames
Conducting fire tests at our North Ryde fire‑testing facility.

Six members of the fire science team on stage at the CSIRO awards with Larry Marshall. The two people in the middle are holding the wooden trophies.
CSIRO Medal for Impact from Science winners: The Infrastructure Technologies – Fire Science Team.
Our Fire Science Team, in collaboration with industry stakeholders, undertook extensive design and testing. We developed the experimental methodology and delivered 14 full-scale apartment fire tests at our North Ryde fire-testing facility. The data generated proved the effectiveness of the new sprinkler system designs, which improved occupant safety and reduced construction costs.

With this evidence, the Australian National Construction Code was changed – fire sprinkler systems are now required in residential apartment buildings below 25 metres. According to the Commissioner of Fire and Rescue NSW, this signalled ‘the most significant shift in fire safety since 2006, when legislation mandated the installation of smoke alarms...’.

These regulatory changes reduce the risk to life from 3.9 fatalities per 1,000 fire starts to 1.1–1.3 fatalities, creating a long-lasting impact for Australia.