Megan Clark set to make CSIRO rock

6 09 2008

The CSIRO has appointed geologist Megan Clark as new CEO.

The Australian, ABCnews, The Age.

Clark has an impressive CV that involves more than just looking at rocks. Currently she is VP of mineral resource giant BHP Billiton, so certainly has management skills in tow.

Her predecessor also had a reputation as a innovative go-getter. However, Geoff Garret was heavily criticised by scientists and science media for focusing too much on marketing and branding. Sacrificing “blue sky” (open ended, discovery-based) research for investing only in profit-generating ideas, such as patents and marketable diets.

The CSIRO is a government funded science flagship, not a biotech start-up trying to impress shareholders. Voices are hopeful that Clark is going to work with the new government to pump out more science and less spin – but already, even the age article I can see the spin wheels turning. She is denying existence of low morale amongst staff, and somehow making it appear that the government is improving its R&D investments in the organisation.

In actuality the government cut $60 million over 4 years from CSIRO’s budget in May this year (ABCnews, AustLifeScientist +2). This caused job losses and office closures in regional centres. Staff at the my local lab in Rockhampton first heard about their branches closure when the read it in the paper. This sort of business behaviour does not tend to cultivate strong morale.

Maybe it’s just same shit different cow.

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