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The appointment of Professor Sue Thomas as the new head of the Australian Research Council will ensure balance between fundamental and applied research in Australia’s innovation agenda.

Universities Australia’s Deputy Chief Executive Catriona Jackson welcomed the council’s incoming CEO, who has experience in research, university management and research commercialisation.

“Professor Thomas has a long and distinguished career as a microbiologist and senior university leader. She brings significant expertise to a role that is central to Australian research,” Ms Jackson said.

“It’s clear that Professor Thomas recognises that fundamental research is a powerful driver of innovation. Without basic research, innovation breakthroughs simply don’t happen,” she said.

“Universities Australia supports efforts to maintain a balance between research with immediate commercial applications and curiosity-led research which often leads to innovation in the long run.”

Professor Thomas’s professional career began with appointments at Princeton University in the USA and the Medical Research Council in the UK.

She has held senior leadership positions at Charles Sturt University, University of Canberra, Flinders University, and most recently as a Provost and Senior Deputy-Vice Chancellor at the University of New England.

“Universities Australia looks forward to working closely with the ARC to support excellence in Australian research,” Ms Jackson said.

The ARC Chief Executive position was formerly held by Professor Aidan Byrne, who is now Provost at University of Queensland.

Professor Thomas will formally begin the role in July this year.

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