Professor Mary O’Kane AC is the NSW Chief Scientist & Engineer, a company director, and Executive Chairman of O’Kane Associates, a Sydney-based consulting practice specialising in government reviews and research and innovation matters.
She is also Chair of the boards of the Cooperative Research Centre for Spatial Information, the Space Environment Management Cooperative Research Centre and the Institute of Marine and Antarctic Studies at the University of Tasmania. She is also a director of the New Zealand Antarctic Research Institute, Capital Markets Cooperative Research Centre and Business Events Sydney.
Professor O’Kane was Vice-Chancellor and Rector of the University of Adelaide from 1996-2001. She is a former Chair of the board of the Australian Centre for Renewable Energy, a former member of the Commonwealth’s Review of the National Innovation System, the Australian Research Council and the Cooperative Research Centres Committee, the board of FH Faulding & Co Ltd and the board of CSIRO. She is a Fellow of the Academy of Technological Sciences and Engineering and an Honorary Fellow of Engineers Australia.
The Chief Scientist & Engineer, a three day per week position, has two main aspects:
1) to foster and encourage a lively state innovation system particularly by promoting productive links between business, the professions, universities and government
2) to provide independent advice on how to address (often wicked) policy problems that involve engineering or science. Examples include coal seam gas, sea level rise, road tunnel air quality and coal dust emissions.
As NSW Chief Scientist & Engineer, Professor O'Kane consults widely with academia, industry and government to ensure knowledge and research can be adapted and used to benefit NSW.
She gives many speeches in her role promoting and encouraging innovation, research and development in NSW.
Professor O'Kane produces a large number of reports containing government-commissioned advice on various policy issues. These reports are available here.
Photo by James Horan.