Meet the members of the Expert Working Group

An Expert Working Group (EWG) will steer the development of the 2021 Roadmap and provide assurance to the government, stakeholders and the wider community on the quality and relevance of the advice produced.

The EWG is comprised of members with expertise across government, research, business and investment, and has been agreed by the Minister for Education and Youth, and the Minister for Industry, Science and Technology. It is supported by a taskforce based within the Department of Education, Skills and Employment.

As set out in the Terms of Reference, the EWG will guide the taskforce in:

  • seeking expert advice on research infrastructure capability and future research needs
  • consulting with the research community, the university sector, research funders, state and territory governments, peak organisations, existing facility operators, publicly funded research agencies, private research institutes, international organisations, Government agencies and industry and business
  • providing stakeholders and the community with the opportunity to contribute to policy discussion papers and a draft Roadmap.

The members of the EWG are profiled below:

Dr Ziggy Switkowski AO

Dr Ziggy Switkowski AO (chair)

Chairman of NBN Co.
Chancellor of the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology

Dr Switkowski is a former Chairman of Suncorp Group, the Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation and Opera Australia. He has also served as a non-executive director on the boards of Tabcorp Holdings, Healthscope, Oil Search, Lynas and Amcor.

Dr Switkowski is a Fellow of the Australian Academy of Science, the Australian Academy of Technological Sciences and Engineering and the Australian Institute of Company Directors. In 2014, Dr Switkowski was made an Officer of the Order of Australia in recognition of his service to tertiary education administration, scientific organisations and the telecommunications sector, business, and the arts.

Professor Barbara Howlett FAA

Professor Barbara Howlett FAA

Honorary Professor, School of BioSciences, University of Melbourne

Professor Howlett is an Honorary Professor in the School of BioSciences at the University of Melbourne. She has worked in research areas including influenza, bacterial memory, pollen allergy, nitrogen fixation and plant disease.

Professor Howlett’s major interest is blackleg, a fungal disease that limits canola production worldwide. She has developed molecular genetic tools and genomic resources and used them to determine how virulence of the blackleg fungus evolves, which genes are involved in disease and how farmers can avoid devastating yield losses.

Professor Howlett is a member of the National Science and Technology Council and she chairs the National Committee for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food for the Australian Academy of Science. She was a member of the Expert Working Group for the 2020 report on ‘The future of agricultural technologies’ published by the Australian Council of Learned Academies (ACOLA).

Dr Michelle Perugini

Co-Founder and CEO, Presagen

Dr Michelle Perugini has a PhD in Medicine and worked as a post-doctoral research scientist in Oncology for a decade. She has founded two global Artificial Intelligence (AI) tech companies, the first of which was acquired by EY in 2015. Michelle is now Co-Founder and CEO of Presagen, an AI healthcare company building Presagen as ‘The Social Network for Healthcare’. Presagen’s online platform connects a global collaborative network of clinics and their medical data in order to build scalable AI healthcare products. Presagen’s first product Life Whisperer uses AI for embryo selection to improve pregnancy outcomes in IVF, and is being sold in IVF clinics globally. Michelle is also a dedicated advisor to many start-ups, a member of the Australian Government R&D Incentives Committee, and committed to supporting and building the AI and medtech sector in Australia.

Michelle Perugini
Dr Chris Roberts AO

Dr Chris Roberts AO

Non-Executive Director, Atmo Biosciences

Dr Roberts is Chair of OncoSil Medical Limited (a company treating pancreatic cancer with radioisotopes), a Non-Executive Director of Clarity Pharmaceuticals Limited (radiopharmaceuticals for theranostics) and a Non-Executive Director of Atmo Biosciences (a digital health business commercialising an ingestible gas-sensing capsule that can profile gases within the gut).

Dr Roberts has a track record of success in the medtech sector, having played a crucial role in the global growth of two of Australia’s most successful medtech companies.

Dr Roberts has more than 45 years’ experience in international medical device businesses, including tenure as CEO of Cochlear from 2004-2015, and as a founding Director and Executive Vice President of ResMed from 1992-2003 (and then as Non-Executive Director from 2004 to 2017).

Professor Liz Sonenberg

Pro Vice-Chancellor Research Systems, University of Melbourne

Liz Sonenberg is a Professor of Information Systems at the University of Melbourne and is an active researcher in Artificial Intelligence (AI) in the Faculty of Engineering and Information Technology. She holds the Chancellery roles of Pro-Vice Chancellor Research Systems and Pro Vice-Chancellor Digital & Data. These responsibilities include oversight of the maturing of the array of business systems that support the University research enterprise, and guiding the University’s strategic digital and data agenda, governance and policies. Previously, at the University of Melbourne she has been Head of the Department of Information Systems and Dean of the Faculty of Science.

Liz Sonenberg
Lauren Stafford

Ms Lauren Stafford

Manager, Open Innovation, Woodside Energy Limited

Ms Stafford is currently Manager of Open Innovation at Woodside Energy Limited. She is also a board member on Industry Innovation and Science Australia and a member of the Industry Advisory Board of Quantum Technology Exchange.

Ms Stafford has an extensive background in technology development and commercialisation in the global resources market and was formerly the Head of Innovation Partnerships at BHP, Business Manager and Company Secretary of CRC ORE Ltd. and a member of the Mining Education Australia Board. She has expertise in portfolio strategy, technology and business development, corporate structure, governance and operating models and intellectual property and data strategies. Ms Stafford has a Bachelor of Applied Science (Hons) and a Bachelor of Education from the University of Queensland.

Mr Rob Heferen

Deputy Secretary, Higher Education, Research and International Group, Department of Education, Skills and Employment

Mr Heferen joined the Department of Education, Skills and Employment in 2019 as Deputy Secretary, Higher Education, Research and International. Prior to this, he was Deputy Secretary at the Department of the Environment and Energy and had responsibility for energy policy including electricity and gas markets, and fuel security. He was Australia’s representative on the International Energy Agency’s Governing Board.

In April 2016, Mr Heferen was Deputy Secretary with the Department of Industry, Innovation and Science with responsibilities for Energy, Resources and the Office of Northern Australia. Before joining the Department of Industry, Innovation and Science, Rob was the Deputy Secretary, Revenue Group with The Treasury (2011-2016).

Mr Heferen’s other roles in the Australian Public Service have been in Customs, the ATO, Treasury and in the Department of Families, Housing, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs.

Rob Heferen
Dr Catherine Foley

Dr Cathy Foley AO PSM

Australia’s Chief Scientist

As Australia’s Chief Scientist, Dr Foley advises the Australian government on science, technology and innovation across the breadth of national policy development. Dr Foley was appointed after a lengthy research career at Australia’s science agency, the CSIRO.

Dr Foley’s research achievements are significant, covering advances in the field of solid-state physics and its applications, combining quantum physics, material science and research translation. She has made valuable contributions to the understanding of semiconductors and high-temperature superconductors and to the development of field-deployable superconducting devices that locate valuable mineral deposits by detecting minute magnetic fields ten million times weaker than the Earth’s field. The commercial development of this technology has led to mineral discoveries worth more than $6 billion.

Dr Foley’s scientific excellence and influential leadership have been recognised with numerous awards and fellowships. Throughout her career she has strived to create an environment that embraces the full human potential of both men and women for wellbeing and economic benefit and for equality.

Ms Jane Urquhart

Acting Deputy Secretary, DISER

Ms Urquhart was appointed Head of Strategic Policy Division in the Department of Industry, Science, Energy and Resources in November 2020. For most of 2020, she worked across a succession of taskforces related to the Australian Government’s response to the pandemic. Previously, she led Science and Commercialisation Policy Division for five years. From 2010-2013, she managed the Enterprise Connect program, responsible for program delivery, policy, and a suite of advisory bodies.

Prior to joining the department, Ms Urquhart worked for 20 years in the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, on relationships with Syria, Papua New Guinea, Solomon Islands, Hong Kong, Macau, Taiwan, West Europe and New Caledonia. She was posted to Damascus, Honiara and Noumea (serving as Consul General to the French Territories). She has studied Mandarin, Arabic, Solomons Pijin and French. Ms Urquhart was the first Australian woman to lead a peace mission when she led the International Peace Monitoring Team in Solomon Islands in 2001.

Ms Jane Urquhart