The seventh Chancellor
Alan Finkel becomes Chancellor
Alan Finkel was awarded a Bachelor of Engineering in 1976, and his PhD in Electrical Engineering in 1981. Following his graduation, Dr Finkel took up a postdoctoral fellowship at the John Curtin School of Medical Research at the Australian National University. His entrepreneurial flair emerged early in this role and he used his experience in electrical engineering and biophysics to develop a tool to both stimulate and measure the current flowing through a neuron at the same time.
In 1983, he used his invention to found his own business, Axon Instruments. The California-based company (now incorporated into Molecular Devices) makes medical and scientific devices to aid research. While he was taking a risk leaving academia for the business world, the company found a ready market. Dr Finkel and his wife, Elizabeth, ran the company until its sale in 2004.
While remaining a director of Molecular Devices, Dr Finkel refocused his career in Australia, co-founding COSMOS, an award winning science magazine, and supported research organisations and became involved in education initiatives for school children.
In 2008 he became Monash’s seventh Chancellor. His unique career allowed Dr Finkel to combine both the academic and the corporate sides of the role. As Chancellor, he was detail-focused and hand-on, but saw his role as being an executive one. His interest in education and research drove him to become particularly involved in directing the University towards research and capital developments. He stepped down from his role at Monash at the end of 2015, and took up the appointment as Australia’s Chief Scientist. In this prestigious role, he provides advice to the Prime Minister on matters of science, technology and innovation.