Antarctic Division appoints first female Chief Scientist

Dr Gwen Fenton is the Australian Antarctic Division's new Chief Scientist
Dr Gwen Fenton is the Australian Antarctic Division's new Chief Scientist. (Photo: Glenn Jacobson)

Dr Gwen Fenton is the Australian Antarctic Division’s new Chief Scientist.

Dr Fenton has been acting in the role since August and said she was honoured to be offered the position and to be the first woman in the role.

“This is an exciting time for the Australian Antarctic Science Programme and I am looking forward to ensuring that we maximise our opportunities to deliver world class research,” she said.

Dr Fenton succeeds Dr Nick Gales as Chief Scientist, after his recent appointment to Director of the Australian Antarctic Division.

Dr Gales said Dr Fenton brings to the role a depth of experience from marine research, environmental policy and managing Antarctic science.

“I have no doubt that Gwen will be an outstanding Chief Scientist; her depth of knowledge of Antarctic science, excellent judgement, positive people-skills and passion for the role will ensure that,” he said.

Dr Fenton has been employed at the Australian Antarctic Division since 2003, managing science planning and coordination for all projects within the Australian Antarctic Science Programme.

Prior to this she spent seven years with the Tasmanian Government, managing the state’s marine environmental policy issues within the Marine Resources Division of the Department of Primary Industries Water and the Environment.

In her early career Dr Fenton gained her PhD in marine zoology from the University of Tasmania and subsequently spent 11 years conducting post-doctoral marine research.

“My previous research used innovative technologies to study issues of practical importance, such as stable isotope analysis of marine coastal food webs, and radiometric ageing of deep-sea fish such as orange roughy, blue grenadier, oreo dories and deep-sea sharks,” she said.

“I also conducted ecological research on krill and mysid shrimps."

Dr Fenton is perhaps best known for the research she led to determine the age of orange roughy. This work revealed that the fish live to over 100 years old.