Industry 4.0 in the Frame – the Royal Society of Victoria’s 2020 Research Medallist

2020 RSV Medallist Bronwyn Fox

The Royal Society of Victoria is delighted to congratulate the 2020 recipient of the RSV’s prestigious Medal for Excellence in Scientific Research – Professor Bronwyn Fox, Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Research and Enterprise) at Swinburne University of Technology.

Photo: Eamon Gallagher, courtesy of Swinburne University of Technology
Dr Anita Hill

“It is because of her sustained excellence in research, innovation, and leadership that in 2020 Australia has a growing, globally networked, advanced manufacturing ecosystem in carbon fibre composites,” explains Dr Anita Hill, CSIRO’s Chief Research Scientist (left).

“There are several impressive factors about Professor Fox. Her ability to communicate, inspire, and advocate for science is evident not only from the ecosystem that she has been able to create and fund but also from her presentations, several of which are available on YouTube as TEDx talks or interviews. She provides audiences of any background a vision of the future and one where Australia is designing and manufacturing the lightweight materials of future mobility (flying cars, hyperloops). She is a role model for STEM and for supporting high tech companies in Australia. She is recognised internationally and uses her networks to Australia’s advantage.”

The assessors are all admiration. According to panel member Dr Catherine de Burgh-Day, “Professor Fox exemplifies the goal of bringing science and industry together in Victoria, and to establish Victoria as an international science capital.”

“Professor Fox’s vigorous research output… is matched by her industry partnerships and collaborations, the creation of new commercial entities, tangible jobs creation, a willingness and ability to represent her expertise with the media, and the supervision of PhD students,” said David Zerman, the Society’s President. “She is a leader of one of Victoria’s most exciting tertiary institutions, and has achieved truly amazing things in the short two decades since first attaining her PhD – Bronwyn has shown exemplary scientific leadership globally, in Australia, and in Victoria.”

“I am truly delighted by the panel’s recommendation.”

The Royal Society of Victoria congratulates Professor Bronwyn Fox, the 2020 recipient of the RSV Medal for Excellence in Scientific Research. Bronwyn will be presenting her work to the Society at a public lecture on the evening of 10th December, 2020, and will be presented with the 2020 Medal by the Society’s Patron, the Governor of Victoria.

About the Medal

Inaugurated in 1959, this year the RSV Medal was awarded in Category IV– the Physical Sciences. The Research Medal recognises peak research career achievements and outstanding leadership in research by Australian scientists, particularly those conducting work in (or about) the State of Victoria.

The task of the RSV’s Medal assessment panel continues to grow more and more challenging each year. “This year we had six remarkable nominees from six senior leaders of our research institutions,” explains David Zerman. “When the field is so outstanding, assessment and ranking becomes an excruciatingly nuanced process. So my grateful thanks to the panel and to all our nominators for their labours – we hope to see all these remarkable people again in 2024!”

About the Medallist

Professor Bronwyn Fox currently holds the position of Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Research and Enterprise) at Swinburne University of Technology. Prior to this appointment, Professor Fox was founding Director of the university’s Manufacturing Futures Research Institute with a mission to support the transition of Australia’s manufacturing sector to Industry 4.0 – the fourth industrial revolution.

After attaining her Bachelor of Science (chemistry) from the University of Melbourne, Dr Fox received her PhD in Engineering from the Australian National University in 2001 on the topic of aerospace composites. Since that time, Bronwyn has grown her own internationally recognised research groups, industry projects, and national industry de-risking infrastructure at Deakin University (2001-2015) and at Swinburne University (2015-present). She has created a Composites Manufacturing Ecosystem in Australia that brings together industry-research partnerships, contributes to a vibrant national manufacturing capability, supplies products and services globally, and plays an important role in high tech job creation. These accomplishments are underpinned by her research excellence, her innovative methods for building research-industry partnerships, and her leadership.

Demonstrating sustained commitment to supporting the growth of the manufacturing industry in Australia through targeted research, Professor Fox was previously one of the founders of the Carbon Nexus facility at Deakin University, which catalysed the creation of an industrial research precinct. Leveraging her specific knowledge of materials science and engineering, Professor Fox has built multidisciplinary teams to work with the manufacturing sector to ensure they are digitally equipped and linked into global supply chains.

Bronwyn is an internationally recognised expert on carbon fibre and composite materials and is Chair of the Australian Academy of Technology and Engineering (Victorian Division), a Fellow of the Academy of Technological Sciences and Engineering (ATSE), a Fellow of the Royal Australian Chemical Institute (RACI) and a Graduate of the Australian Institute of Company Directors (GAICD).

Bronwyn Fox represented Australia in 2017 at the G20 Summit in Berlin as a panellist on Digitising Manufacturing – Initiatives, Best Practices and Policy Approaches. Her work has also led to the formation of the Advanced Fibre Cluster Geelong, the Australian Graphene Industry Association, and the Manufacturing Futures Research Institute at Swinburne. She has created and delivered Carbon Nexus as a service that underpins Australia’s high-tech carbon fibre composite design and manufacturing sector and will deliver the I4.0 Testlab with a similar collaborative model training industry-ready graduates and de-risking innovation-led industry growth. She has received the 2014 Geelong Chamber of Commerce Award for Innovative and Sustainable Technology and Engineering, the 2016 JEC Asia Innovation Award: Automotive with Daimler, Multimatic, and the University of Stuttgart, and the 2018 Research Leadership Award at the 14th Global Congress on Manufacturing for her outstanding research leadership and research innovation. In 2019, Bronwyn was invited to chair the expert working group for the Australian Council of Learned Academies to write a 10-year strategic horizon scanning report for the Office of the Chief Scientist on The Internet of Things and Industry 4.0.