WALA Award win for Dr Danielle Kennedy

October 16th, 2017

Danielle Kennedy was successful winning the Women’s Agenda Leadership Award (WALA) for the public sector. Danielle sat down with the CSIRO sphere team in October. The following has been reproduced from CSIRO’s internal newsletter Sphere.

20/20 vision for our 2030 future

18 October 2017

Taking some time out from solving the problems of humans in 2030, Danielle Kennedy celebrates her recent win at Women’s Agenda Leadership Awards.

Earlier this month Danielle Kennedy, director of the Active Integrated Matter (AIM) Future Science Platform was named an Emerging Leader in the Public Sector at the Women’s Agenda Leadership Awards. We sat down with Danielle to find out a little more about her past, her future, and her shiny new award.

Sphere: Congratulations on your win!

Danielle: Thanks! It was a great experience. My interview panel [as part of the application] included a Deloitte HR director, an executive placement manager and a former MD for Microsoft Australia so it wasn’t easy. I feel like it has been great recognition of what we are trying to achieve in the AIM FSP and CSIRO more broadly.

Sphere: So what’s your area of research?

Danielle: I’m a materials chemist, specialising in high throughput experimentation. My research looks at speeding up the rate of development of nanomaterials like MOFs. We do so using robotics that simultaneously run several experiments in a single cycle, and the Australian synchrotron. Before my current role, I led a wide range of projects at CSIRO developing application-specific materials, from nanocatalysts to ionic liquids. I also had a leading role in our RAMP laboratory that won the CSIRO Medal for HSE in 2014 – it was for the work we put into the HazOp and design of an inherently dangerous laboratory.

Danielle Kennedy at a podium receiving her award.

Dr Danielle Kennedy picking up her Emerging Leader in the Public Sector Award at the Women’s Agenda Leadership Awards in Sydney.

Sphere: And what work are you doing at CSIRO currently?

Danielle: I lead the CSIRO’s Active Integrated Matter Future Science Platform (FSP). AIM FSP is a cross-CSIRO activity bringing staff together from all of our business units. We have a vision for what 2030 looks like in food, manufacturing, marine management and autonomous design. Our current projects are tackling challenging science questions to fill the gaps in these visions.

Sphere: What were your motivations for applying for this award?

Danielle: I wanted to raise the profile of the FSP program and its contribution to delivering the 2020 strategy, and the inclusive work we are doing within AIM to enable staff across all levels to champion ambitious scientific ideas.

Sphere: What is the significance of the win?

Danielle: The Women’s Agenda awards brings together women from all walks of life. I got to meet leaders from business, the legal and architecture sectors, technology and start-ups. It was a real privilege to be named as a finalist amongst this group of women.

Sphere: Tell us a little about your background at CSIRO?

Danielle: I joined CSIRO in 2008 at our North Ryde site and moved my family to the vibrant Clayton site to be part of Calum Drummond’s research group. I’ve led large cross-business unit projects historically, from developing metal organic frameworks (MOFs) and their application as medical imaging agents and catalysts to discovering novel nanoparticle catalysts for the lower energy production of ammonia. All along using high throughput approaches to speed up research. It has been great stepping up to lead the future science platform. I am really proud of the team and what they’ve achieved to date.

Sphere: What made you decide on science as a career?

Danielle: I had a great high-school chemistry teacher. He fostered a love of experimentation leading to understanding the world around me, which I retain even today.

Sphere: Tell us a fun fact about you – something people wouldn’t know.

Danielle: I could have been a geologist. My undergraduate degree was geological chemistry double major. However, as a young mum back then, I looked at the field trip requirements for honours and shifted my focus to the laboratory. It has proven to be a great decision. It’s allowed me to thrive in a scientific field that I might not have chosen otherwise but has turned out to be an excellent space to be.

Sphere: Thanks for the chat Danielle, and congrats again on a deserved win!

Find out more about the Women’s Agenda Leadership Awards.

Danielle Kennedy pictured in front of a screen.

Danielle thanks Cathy Foley and Keith McLean for taking a risk with her, the AIM portfolio office Paul Sadler, Katie Styan and Tim Head for their support to get the platform in place and the Test bed leaders for driving the ambitious 2030 vision for the science.