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Biologist says papal appointment a boost to science

Melbourne biologist Suzanne Cory, whom the Pope appointed to the Pontifical Academy of Sciences last weekend, suggested her appointment is a vote of confidence in science, given the "increasing distrust of scientists among some parts of the public".

Professor Cory, director of the Walter and Eliza Hall Institute and believed to be the first Australian elected to the Pontifical Academy of Sciences, was speaking to The Age.

In her appointment, she joins a distinguished group, including physicist Stephen Hawking and several Nobel Prize winners. The 401 year old Pontifical Academy is the scientific council that advises the Pope.

"It's a very great honour indeed," she told The Age. "I feel quite overwhelmed."

Professor Cory said scientists would be encouraged by her election. "Wherever science is honoured publicly, that is a very big advantage to science generally. Scientists take a lot of heart."

She said she was concerned by an increasing distrust of scientists among some parts of the public. "Science is now so specialised it's very hard even to approach the surface of it. The way through this is better education so people can understand enough to make informed societal decisions."

Professor Cory is not a Catholic, but says she was raised an Anglican and remains a Christian with "a very strong respect for Christianity".

The Catholic Archbishop of Melbourne, Denis Hart, said he was delighted with the appointment.

Melbourne biologist now elite papal adviser (The Age 21/4/04)

Pope nominates female Australian researcher to sciences academy (Catholic News Service 19/4/04)
Pope appoints Australian to Pontifical Academy (CathNews 20/4/04)
OTHER PONTIFICAL ACTS (Vatican Information Service 19/4/04)
Pontifical Academy of Sciences
Walter & Eliza Hall Institute | Professor Suzanne Cory
Cory, Suzanne (Bright Sparcs)
Interview: Suzanne Cory (Widenet Journal Nov 1997)

21 Apr 2004