CSIRO names Jon Whittle as Data61's new boss

Jon Whittle will be known as director instead of chief executive, which was the title Adrian Turner held until his departure last September.
Written by Aimee Chanthadavong, Contributor
Image: CSIRO

The Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO) has appointed Jon Whittle as the director of Data61.

Whittle, who will start his new role in July, is set to join from Monash University where he is currently executive dean of the Faculty of Information Technology and founding co-director of the Monash Data Futures Institute.

Whittle was previously a senior research scientist and technology area lead at NASA Ames Research Center where he led artificial intelligence-related research and development projects in civil engineering and space technologies.

"Since we created Data61 as part of Strategy 2020, CSIRO has become home to Australia's leading data science and innovation group, partnering with government, industry and academia to solve Australia's largest data-driven challenges underpinned by deep science and technology," CSIRO chief executive Larry Marshall said.

"Jon is well placed to take CSIRO's digital journey into its next phase, maximising the opportunities that digital and data science can deliver for the nation, and the world."

Joining Whittle will be Simon Barry, who will take up the position of deputy director at Data61.

The appointments come after Adrian Turner in August announced his resignation from Data61 chief executive. He officially finished up with the organisation in September.

Since then, Turner has been focused on leading the Mindaroo Foundation's AU$50 million wildlife and disaster resilience program that aims to deliver a plan on how Australia and the rest of the world can prevent, mitigate, and defeat bushfires.

Turner was also due to set up a new venture.

During his time with Data61, Turner was charged with ensuring Australia did not fall behind in innovation.

Under Turner's leadership, Data61 established itself as Australia's voice on data science and engineering, working with government and industry on digital and data-driven opportunities including spatial intelligence, machine learning, robotics, cybersecurity, and open data.

In addition, CSIRO has appointed Marcus Zipper as its director of manufacturing. He will commence his role mid-year when long-standing director Keith McLean retires.

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