Eminent scientist appointed Chair of Australian Antarctic Science Council

Dept of Climate Change, Energy, Environment & Water

Antarctic and sub-Antarctic scientist Dr Nicholas Gales has been appointed Chair of the Australian Antarctic Science Council.

The Council provides independent advice to Government on the priorities of the Australian Antarctic Science Program, which investigates the role of Antarctica in the global climate system.

Dr Gales brings a wealth of expertise to the role in Antarctic research, leadership and diplomacy.

He has been part of the Australian Antarctic Program for many years, including as chief scientist of the department’s Australian Antarctic Division and then as head of the division from 2015-18.

Dr Gales was awarded the Antarctic Medal in 2021 for his contribution to the Australian Antarctic Program.

The Council comprises scientists and representatives from key Government agencies involved with Australia’s Antarctic science program. These include the Department of Climate Change, Energy, the Environment and Water’s Australian Antarctic Division, the Australian Research Council, the Bureau of Meteorology, CSIRO, Geoscience Australia and the Australian Academy of Science’s National Committee for Antarctic Research.

Dr Gales takes over from outgoing chair Mr Philip Marcus Clark AO, who has completed his term.

Quotes attributable to the Minister for the Environment and Water the Hon Tanya Plibersek:

“I congratulate Dr Gales on his appointment to this strategically important Antarctic science role, and I look forward to working with him.

“I would also like to thank outgoing chair Mr Philip Marcus Clark AO for his exceptional contribution.

“Dr Gales will have a critical role in leading the strategic vision for Australia’s Antarctic research, including advising Government on the ongoing development of the Australian Antarctic Science Decadal Plan.

“Through his role Dr Gales will take a lead role in defining Australia’s Antarctic science priorities for the next decade, building on Australia’s reputation as an Antarctic science leader.”

Quotes attributable to the incoming Chair of the Australian Antarctic Science Council, Dr Nicholas Gales:

“I am humbled and incredibly excited to take on this important role.

“My aim is for the Council to act as a champion for the Australian Antarctic science program, with a sharp focus on the science of greatest priority for all Australians.

“I greatly look forward to working with the whole Australian Antarctic science community, the AAD Chief Scientist and Head of Division and of course, supporting our Minister in her oversight responsibilities of Australia’s Antarctic Program.”


Dr Nicholas Gales joined the Australian Antarctic Division in the 1980s as a veterinary scientist studying elephant seals and penguins on Heard and MacDonald Islands and at Davis research station.

He worked in a variety of roles over more than three decades in the Australian Antarctic Program, including four years as Chief Scientist, before becoming AAD Director from 2015-18.

Dr Gales is also the Australian Commissioner to the International Whaling Commission (IWC), a position he has held since 2016.

He was as a witness for Australia in the successful International Court of Justice finding against Japan’s Southern Ocean whaling program.

Dr Gales was awarded the Antarctic Medal in 2021 for his significant and exceptional contribution to the Australian Antarctic Program.



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