Robin Batterham (OB 55)
Robin Batterham attended BGS from 1950 to 1955 and completed a PhD in chemical engineering at the University of Melbourne in 1969. He went on to receive a scholarship from the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO), to undertake a post-doctoral at the central research laboratories of ICI in the UK.
Robin returned to Australia as a research scientist with CSIRO’s Division of Chemical Engineering. During this period he undertook a significant number of innovative projects in the mineral processing field and in 1985 was appointed Chief of the Division of Mineral and Process Engineering. During his career with CSIRO, Robin promoted close industry connections which led to the development of numerous novel processes which are still used in the mineral sectors in Australia and overseas.
In 1988 Robin was approached by CRA Ltd (now Rio Tinto Ltd) to take a major role in technology development. Many of the company’s industrial technology successes are a result of Robin’s work.
When the Federal Government introduced the CRC Research Initiative Robin was awarded an early appointment as a key advisor. The success of the CRC program owes much to his expertise.
In 1999 Robin was appointed the Chief Scientist of Australia, a position he held at the same time as being Chief Technologist for Rio Tinto Ltd. As Chief Scientist, he advised a large number of government bodies, including the Australian Research Council and the Cooperative Research Centres Committee. He was responsible for the major research review which produced the blueprint for government support for research in the early years of the 21st century. His report, entitled “The Chance to Change”, has been widely accepted by the Australian research community and the Federal Government.
Since he was a student, Robin has had a love for organ music and he is now the organist for the Scots Church in Melbourne, where he can frequently be heard performing. He has played the organ in many major cities of the world and released several CDs.
In February 2003, Robin was invited to give the prestigious Danckwerts Memorial Lecture in London and his lecture on Chemical Engineering and Sustainability was greatly acclaimed. Recently he has been elected to the World Chemical Engineering Council, a position acknowledging that Robin is one of the top ten chemical engineers in the world.
Robin was appointed Kernot Professor of Engineering at the University of Melbourne in 2010 –the first ‘named’ chair in engineering since the inception of the University.
Robin Batterham, left, receiving his Hall of Fame Award from the Chairman of Council, Ian Paroissien