Chair, Kernot Professor of Engineering, University of Melbourne

After a period as an honorary staff member and a Professorial Fellow, Professor Robin Batterham joined the Melbourne School of Engineering as Kernot Professor in the Department of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering in 2010.

Professor Batterham is devoted to furthering energy research in the University and is deeply involved with the Melbourne Energy Institute. He brings enormous expertise and experience to the School, building on his long and very distinguished career in industry and government, and is the immediate past President of the Academy of Technological Sciences and Engineering (2007-2012).

Professor Batterham has been named in Engineers Australia’s list of the 100 Most Influential Engineers for 2010. Sponsored by Engineers Australia, the list aims to acknowledge engineers who have a positive influence on society.

He graduated from the University of Melbourne in Chemical Engineering in 1965. He obtained his PhD in 1969 and was awarded a CSIRO scholarship to undertake postdoctoral studies in the United Kingdom at the central laboratories of ICI (UK).

He returned to Australia as a research scientist with the Division of Chemical Engineering in CSIRO. During this period of his professional career he undertook a significant number of innovative projects in the mineral processing field and he was ultimately appointed as Chief of the Division of Mineral and Process Engineering at the CSIRO in 1985. During his career with CSIRO, Dr Batterham promoted close interactions with industry, leading to the development of a number of novel processes which are in use today in the mineral sector in Australia and overseas.

In 1988 he was approached by CRA Ltd, now Rio Tinto Limited, to take a major role in technology development for that company. Many of the company's industrial technology successes are a result of Professor Batterham's work.
When the Federal Government introduced the CRC Research Initiative he was appointed early as a key advisor. The undoubted success of the CRC program owes much to his expertise.

In 1999 he was appointed as Australia's Chief Scientist, a position he held concurrently with that of Chief Technologist for Rio Tinto Limited. 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 twenty-first century. His report "The Chance to Change" has been widely accepted by the Australian research community as well as by the Federal Government.

Since he was a student, he 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.

In February 2003 he was invited to give the prestigious Danckwerts Memorial Lecture in London. His lecture, on "Chemical Engineering and Sustainability", was received with great acclaim. He has also recently been elected to World Chemical Engineering Council, a position acknowledging that he is one of the top ten chemical engineers in the World.

He was appointed as President of the UK Institution of Chemical Engineers for 2004-05, a mark of the very great respect in which he is held. He is also a recipient of the University of Melbourne Kernot medal for distinguished engineering achievement.

Experience

  • 1999–present
    Chief Technologist, Rio Tinto
  • 2007–present
    President , Australian Academy of Technological Sciences and Engineering
  • 1999–2005
    Chief Scientist, Australia
  • 2004–2005
    President, Institution of Chemical Engineers

Education

  • 1969 
    University of Melbourne, PhD
  • 1965 
    University of Melbourne, Bachelor of Chemical Engineering