Dr Paul Willis is the Director of RiAus.
He is known as a science journalist and broadcaster, formerly a presenter for ABC-TV’s Catalyst.
He replaces Acting Director, Dr Jane Lomax-Smith, who filled in after the resignation of Professor Gavin Brown.
Dr Willis is a respected leader in the science community, and takes up his appointment at RiAus as the next step in an impressive career in science.
In his role as Director of RiAus, Dr Willis will be instrumental in determining the direction of the national science hub as it continues its mission of bringing science to people and people to science. “I’ve always had a passion for science communication,” Dr Willis said. ”I look forward to working with RiAus to share the latest in science with new audiences.”
In announcing Dr Willis’ appointment, RiAus Council Chair, Mr Peter Yates, said: “Paul Willis is the perfect person at this time to take on the role of Director of RiAus, after the sad death, in late 2010, of the eminent Inaugural RiAus Director, Professor Gavin Brown. With a high level of energy and enthusiasm Paul is ready to lead RiAus to a new level of achievement in science communication and is a welcome addition to the RiAus team.”
Dr Willis’ early interest in dinosaurs and fossils lead him to Sydney University to study zoology and geology, then on to further studies at the University of New South Wales where he completed a doctorate studying fossil crocodiles.
Over the past ten years, he has held many fascinating jobs including a stint as Curator of Vertebrates at the Macleay Museum in the University of Sydney, and a nine month assignment in Bonn, Germany, measuring dead crocodiles. His passion for science communication also saw him spend a number of years touring Australia with a life-sized inflatable Tyrannosaurus rex as part of a primary school education program.
Dr Willis has a solid research career in vertebrate palaeontology, and has the distinction of having discovered a number of significant vertebrate fossil specimens, including a small dinosaur and a large ichthyosaur.
He has lead seven public expeditions to Antarctica, authored and co-authored seven books on dinosaurs, rocks and fossils and authored many popular articles on science subjects across a wide range of topics.
In early 1997 Dr Willis secured a traineeship with the ABC as a science broadcaster. Throughout his television career, he produced and presented over 230 stories for the Catalyst and Quantum programs on ABC TV, as well as many radio stories for the Science Show, Earthbeat and Ockham’s Razor.
He received the Eureka Prize for the Communication of Science in 2000 for Science in the Pub and in 2008 he presented the inaugural Reg Sprigg Memorial Lecture.
Dr Willis relocated to Adelaide from Sydney in May 2011 to commence his new role at RiAus. He said he is thrilled at the opportunity to work with the RiAus: “It’s a new organisation with a solid foundation and an unbounded and bright future. I can’t wait to get my teeth into it!”
Read the RiAus Media Release here.