What shapes our science? Our people

By Louise Jeckells

24 August 2020

4 minute read

A group of Marine and National Facility staff (MNF) in blue, silver and black uniforms smiling and posing in front of the camera.

CSIRO people drive our amazing science.

It’s fair to say 2020 has been rough. This year, we’ve faced hailstorms, bushfires and a pandemic and CSIRO people have been at the centre of it all. From our front line scientists working on a COVID-19 vaccine to our support people helping us all get setup to work remotely. So, there’s no better time to say thanks to our people. Get ready for a humble brag!

Our national science agenda

Earlier in the year, at the National Press Club, our Chief Executive, Dr Larry Marshall made an important announcement. He announced how we will play a role in driving our nation’s recovery and resilience. He called for a Team Australia approach to solving some big challenges.

“COVID-19 and the devastating bushfires of last season have brought into sharp focus the role of science in national preparedness, and in our ability to weather future crises,” Larry said.

He also spoke about the outstanding science we’ve been part of over the last year. We hit the ground running with COVID-19 research and partnered with some of the best infectious disease experts. We invested in data modelling and artificial intelligence to reinvent the way we do our genetics research. And we’ve been investigating ways to track the virus through wastewater.

We’re working with global and domestic partners on a vaccine. And we opened up a manufacturing facility to tackle the shortage of crucial safety products. Last week, that pilot facility became Australia’s first accredited face mask testing facility. This means local manufacturers can test critical medical supplies here rather than sending them overseas.

We also looked at the threat of a warmer, dryer climate and invested in adapting our bushfire planning to incorporate climate change projections.

And, although our science is outstanding, none of this would have been possible without our CSIRO people.

Our CSIRO people working on the COVID-19 vaccine candidate.

Our CSIRO people working on producing and scaling-up The University of Queensland’s (UQ) vaccine candidate for COVID-19.

Moments shaped by CSIRO people

“Preparation of our facilities and our research was, and continues to be, critical – but the moments that really mattered were shaped by people,” Larry said.

“Like the researchers who have attended every major fire event in Australia since Ash Wednesday in 1983 to better predict fire behaviour and help keep our fire fighters and residents safe. The textile manufacturers who worked with scientists to repurpose their factories to fill the desperate need for personal protection equipment against COVID-19.

“Like the environmental scientists who transferred their expertise in water pollution to start testing wastewater to locate virus hotspots.

“And in Geelong, a city where streets are quiet today with residents back in lockdown, at our ACDP, the CSIRO people who returned from retirement to lend a hand as we work around the clock on a COVID-19 vaccine.

“I want to thank the CSIRO team who have been working tirelessly on this since January, the bushfires team who have been working tirelessly since September, and all the other 5000 people in CSIRO who back them up,” he said.

Shout out to all our CSIRO people!

Thank you Team CSIRO

During National Science Week, we encouraged our people to reach out to their colleagues to show their appreciation. We want to share some of that love.

People thanked their colleagues for stepping up and leading during uncertain moments. Others thanked for throwing their efforts behind a crucial project. But the majority were thanked for being there and providing extra support. If you want to thank our people too, give us a shout out in the comments below.

To see Larry’s National Press Club speech, read it on our website or watch it on ABC iview.