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Cooperative Research News 27  July 2012

Australia's first Chief Scientist Ralph Slatyer AC passes away

Amongst many other achievements, Ralph Slatyer suggested and fostered Australia's Cooperative Research Centres Program

Ralph Slatyer AC FAA FRS, the first Chief Scientist of Australia from 1989 to 1992 died in Canberra last night. The CRC Association extends its deep condolences to the Slatyer family.

Professor Slatyer had a huge influence on Australia's scientific landscape. Amongst his many achievements was his suggestion to the Hawke Government to develop the Cooperative Research Centres Program to see research better applied for the benefit of Australian society. In recognition of that achievement, the CRC Association named its annual oration The Ralph Slatyer Address on Science and Society in his honour.

Professor Slatyer personally selected the first two lecturers: Professor Alan Robson AM, the former Vice Chancellor of the University of Western Australia and Simon McKeon AO, the Chairman of CSIRO and 2011 Australian of the Year. Although Ralph had not been able to attend the orations due to ill health, he continued to take an active interest.

Born in Perth, Western Australia in 1929, Ralph Slatyer was educated at Perth Modern School and Wesley College, Perth then the University of Western Australia from which he graduated with Bachelor’s, Master’s and Doctoral degrees in agricultural science.

Ralph first worked with the Division of Land Research at the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO), becoming Associate Chief of that division in 1966. In 1967, he left the CSIRO and became a Professor of Biology at the Australian National University in Canberra. He was a Visiting Professor at Duke University and the University of California. In the United States, he was appointed a Senior Fellow of both the National Science Foundation and the Ford Foundation. In 1975 he was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society.
In 1998 Professor Slatyer was appointed Australia's Ambassador to UNESCO, returning to the ANU four years later. In 1989, Slatyer was made the first Chief Scientist of Australia, advising the Prime Minister on matters relating to science and technology. Professor Slatyer continued to take a strong interest in CRCs and other organisations in retirement, chairing a number and reviewing many. 

"I know I speak for the whole CRC Community in passing on our condolences to June Slatyer and her family. Ralph was intensely proud of his family and we wish them all the best at this very difficult time" said CRCA CEO Tony Peacock.



2011 Ralph Slatyer Address on Science and Society by Professor Alan Robson AM

2012 Ralph Slatyer Address on Science and Society by Simon McKeon AO

Academy of Science Biography of Ralph Owen Slatyer

Tribute from Australia's current Chief Scientist, Prof. Ian Chubb AC


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