Professor Penny D Sackett is a physicist, astronomer and former Chief Scientist for Australia.
Trained in the United States, she has held positions at the Princeton Institute for Advanced Study, Kapteyn Astronomical Institute in the Netherlands, and the Australian National University (ANU). As a Research School Director at ANU, she led the multi-million dollar effort to rebuild the world-renowned Mt Stromlo Observatory after it was destroyed in 2003 by bush fires, re-establishing it as an international centre for research, training, and high-tech instrumentation, and initiating its partnership in the Giant Magellan Telescope.
As Chief Scientist for Australia (2008-2011), Professor Sackett provided independent advice to the Australian government on matters of science and innovation, and was a vocal champion of evidenced-based decision making. She spearheaded the effort to introduce long-term, cross-portfolio and cross-disciplinary foresight into the Prime Minister’s Science, Engineering and Innovation Council, and opened new channels of communication to the Australian public on matters of science, particularly those related to sustainability such as energy, water, climate change, food security and life-long learning.
Professor Sackett serves as Chair of the ACT Climate Change Council, and is a member of the Business Advisory Board of the ACT’s Renewable Energy Innovation Fund. She served for several years as a Science Advisory Board member of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research.