South Australia appoints professor Craig Simmons as chief scientist

South Australian scientist and academic Professor Craig Simmons FAA FTSE has been appointed to the role of Chief Scientist for South Australia.

Picture credit: University of Newcastle

Professor Craig Simmons FAA FTSE, a distinguished figure in South Australian academia and science, has assumed the role of Chief Scientist for South Australia for a three-year term.

In this part-time capacity, Professor Simmons will spearhead dialogues on the integration of science into decision-making processes. He will provide counsel on enhancing SA’s research ecosystem and offer targeted scientific guidance to the government upon request.

A recipient of the 2015 South Australian Scientist of the Year award, Professor Simmons brings a wealth of experience to the position. His tenure as an Executive Director at the Australian Research Council underscores his expertise in science leadership, education, and policy reform.

“This is an exciting and important time for science in South Australia,” Professor Craig Simmons said.

“We stand on the threshold of energy, climate and health revolutions. Now is the time for innovators, researchers, academics, government and communities to work together to build a brighter future, and I look forward to playing a role in keeping science front and centre in this collaboration.

“South Australia has a proud scientific tradition, I will work to ensure we have a bright, inclusive and engaged scientific future. Science takes a village. Engaging with communities is vital.

“I see the role of Chief Scientist as bringing people together, building ideas, supporting innovation in STEMM education and training and drawing focus to great work.”

Professor Simmons’ research has significantly impacted various sectors, ranging from food and water security to energy and environmental management. His expertise in earth sciences and groundwater research is globally recognised, having served as the Foundation Director of the Australian Research Council’s National Centre for Groundwater Research and Training.

“Professor Craig Simmons is not only a world-renowned groundwater scientist, but a respected leader in Australia’s research sector,” Minister for Industry, Innovation and Science Susan Close said.

“His ability to drive collaboration between government, industry and academia, and direct resources to achieve maximum impact, is well-aligned to our state’s environmental, social and economic ambitions.

“I am thrilled he has accepted the role and look forward to working with him to support the science and research sector in South Australia and provide valuable advice to the government across a wide range of priority areas, including energy transition and climate change.”

Educated in South Australia, Professor Simmons holds degrees in engineering and physics, culminating in a PhD in hydrology. His academic journey has taken him across Australia, the US, UK, China, and Europe.

As a fellow of esteemed institutions such as the Australian Academy of Science and the American Geophysical Union, Professor Simmons has been honoured with prestigious awards, including the Presidents’ Award of the International Association of Hydrogeologists in 2022.

While assuming his new role, Professor Simmons will continue his duties as Pro Vice-Chancellor at the University of Newcastle. Additionally, he will represent South Australia in the Forum of Australian Chief Scientists meetings, fostering discussions on matters of national scientific significance several times a year.

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