UOW graduate Brianna Knowles starts new position at the Federal Government’s Department of Industry, Science, Energy and Resources

UOW Graduate Brianna Knowles has recently started a new position as a Policy Officer working for the Federal Government’s Department of Industry, Science, Energy and Resources where she has made the re-location to Canberra.

Brianna always enjoyed science and mathematics at High School so when she found out about the cadetship program at BlueScope, where she could study chemistry and gain work experience, she leapt at the opportunity. Brianna commenced her cadetship with BlueScope in 2009, gaining experiencing working on plant and completing her Bachelor of Science Advanced (Chemistry) degree with UOW part-time.

More recently Brianna completed her PhD studying through the Steel Research Hub and affiliated with the Intelligent Polymer Research Institute at UOW. Her PhD thesis focused on developing thin-film coatings for the protection of surfaces from biological fouling. While the research outcomes were highly focused, the area of antifouling surfaces was a relatable topic and she enjoyed communicating the research to a broader audience.

“I enjoyed the collaborative aspects of the project and came to understand some fundamental difficulties when bringing together academia and industry” Brianna said.

Brianna’s former role was within BlueScope as Coating Innovation officer where she, for the last four years, investigated novel surface coatings of metal coated and painted steel strip.

“When researching, the work was very focused and very targeted at achieving a particular outcome. I was considered an ‘expert’ in my field and while I did collaborate with others the work was very self-driven” Brianna said.

Brianna’s new role has a focus on the translation of scientific research into commercial products where she is hoping her collaborative experiences within the Steel Research Hub (engaging both academic and industry partners) will help inform policy design. This will be a step away from traditional laboratory type research and she is interested to see how the work of this department shapes the future of science, research and innovation in Australia. Her new role considers a much broader picture and requires constant collaboration and clear communication. Her day-to-day priorities can change quite quickly, and she is constantly learning and being challenged.

We asked Brianna a few questions.

What’s a typical day like in your new role?

It can be quite full on! We have several programs that we have responsibility for that require continuous monitoring. We also assist in developing policies for new programs that support commercialisation and entrepreneurship. Additionally, at any time we can receive high priority requests to provide information to the Ministers office.

Are you enjoying living in Canberra?

I really love Canberra. It has great walking trails and bike paths. It is also very dog friendly which is great for my two puppies. It has all the amenities of a big city but the feel of a country town just minutes from the CBD.

What does the future looks like?

I’m not too sure where I see myself in the future. I do miss some aspects of researching and would consider going back to a researching role. However, I am learning a tremendous amount about how the Government works and how Government support can help start-up businesses and assist entrepreneurs to commercialise their innovations. I think as long as I have the opportunity to keep learning I will be happy with whatever direction my career takes me.

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