Professor Tanya Monro

I grew up in Bankstown and for many years intended to be a musician – I play the cello and piano. It wasn’t until I had an amazing physics teacher in Year 9 that my eyes were opened to the wonder of science. 

I had always loved maths, and the realisation that maths is the language of the universe and physics the way of asking the universe questions delighted me, and I decided then that I wanted to become a physicist.

At university I completed a Bachelor of Science degree in maths and physics, obtaining first class honours in 1994 and then a PhD in physics in 1998, both at the University of Sydney.

After finishing my PhD, I held research positions at the University of Southampton and then at the University of Adelaide, where I become the first female professor of physics at that university. While there, I established the Institute for Photonics and Advanced Sensing, a transdisciplinary research institute that brings together many fields of science to develop and apply new sensing technologies. I then moved to the University of South Australia, where I was the Deputy Vice Chancellor of Research and Innovation.

In 2019, I was appointed Australia’s Chief Defence Scientist, the first female to hold that role. In this role, I am responsible for Defence Science and Technology Group (DSTG), and for ensuring that Australia has access to the science and technology required to protect our national interests.

I have a passion for research, and for connecting researchers to industry and end-users of that research, to ensure that new knowledge can deliver solutions to real-world problems.