Dr Graeme Batley awarded the Member of the Order of Australia (AM)

Category: Our People

  28 Jun 2022

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Dr Graeme Batley, Member of the Order of Australia (AM)

Article by Susan Wilson, Lisa Golding, Stuart Simpson and Jenny Stauber.

Congratulations to Dr Graeme Batley, long-term and much loved SETAC Member who was awarded the Member of the Order of Australia (AM) this year for services to ‘environmental toxicology and chemical science’.

Graeme Batley has been researching environmental contaminants in aquatic systems for over 50 years at the Lucas Heights Research Establishment near Sydney, initially with the Australian Atomic Energy Commission and from 1981 with CSIRO.  As an environmental analytical chemist, he became active in the Royal Australian Chemical institute and was instrumental in the formation of RACI’s Environment Division in the early 1990s which he chaired.  At the same time, as a member of the Australasian Society for Ecotoxicology (eventually Vice-President), he encouraged joint RACI/ASE conferences to better integrate environmental chemistry and ecotoxicology.  In 1994, he started attending SETAC meetings in North America and saw great value in the international links that SETAC offered.  He led the establishment of an Asia/Pacific geographic unit of SETAC and chaired a successful formation conference in Sydney (INTERACT 96) that resulted in the formation of SETAC Asia/Pacific in 1997. Graeme was the Foundation President, a role he held from 1997-2003, remaining on their Board of Directors until 2011.  He played a key role in planning meetings leading to the establishment of a global SETAC and its World Council in 2002. Often call the “Father of SETAC Asia/Pacific”, he enjoyed seeing the growth of this geographic unit.  In 2008, Sydney hosted the 5th SETAC World Congress (the first time outside of Europe and North America) with Graeme as congress chairman.  He had long pushed for ASE to join SETAC and this was ultimately achieved with the formation of SETAC Australasia in 2011.

After retiring for 1 day some time ago now, Graeme has continued his active and highly productive research career spanning contaminants in waters and sediments, metal speciation, environmental nanomaterials and environmental impacts of mining and coal seam gas.  A major focus since 1996 has been the development of water and sediment quality guidelines, with a major role in the latest revamp (ANZG, 2018) and the ongoing production of new default guideline documentation.  These lifetime activities have resulted in some 460 research papers, book chapters and reports on analytical and environmental chemistry, and ecotoxicology of contaminants, and being an author and/or editor of 8 books.  In the period 1970-2022, these publications have been cited over 19100 times. 

Among many awards, the highlights include being a joint recipient of the Eureka prize for Water Research in 2006 and the SETAC Asia/Pacific Lifetime Achievement Award in 2016.   Being appointed a Member of the Order of Australia (AM) this year for services to ‘environmental toxicology and chemical science’ has been a special achievement. 

In addition to his career achievements, Graeme has been a strong role model and mentor of staff and students over many years. Without hesitation he so frequently puts on hold his personal work needs to assist others - to read, edit and critique science, and to provide his knowledge to science discussions for students and peer’s work that he has no formal relationship with (not his students, not his projects). He does not seek fame from his contributions, but from knowing he is assisting others to overcome hurdles and progress their contributions to science. At CSIRO Land and Water, Lucas Heights, he has contributed to building a very strong team and, to his great credit, was able to share his enthusiasm, passion for science and desire for the truth. Graeme’s reputation for incisive and critical thinking, straight talking and a sense of humour is valued in many circles in Australia and internationally. When Graeme speaks, his peers listen. With more work to be done, he shows no signs of slowing down!

Graeme Batley being awarded the Member of the Order of Australia (AM) by NSW Governor Margaret Beazley in May 2022.