Professor Rachel Parker


Professor Rachel Parker

UQ Global Change Institute Director Professor Rachel Parker's research focuses on the business and social dimensions of uptake and diffusion of science and engineering research across the economy and the creation of new economic opportunities from new technologies.

Formerly Director Centre for METS Business Innovation at QUT and Director Strategic Growth in the Institute for Future Environments QUT. She is also Leader of the Industry Translation Capability and Chief Investigator in the recently awarded ARC Centre of Excellence in Synthetic Biology.

During the past decade, Rachel has held leadership positions within the university sector, as Associate Dean Research at QUT Business School and Dean Research Development in the Division of Research and Commercialisation QUT. In these roles she has coordinated major research investments aimed at delivering impact of university research beyond academic communities and facilitating industrial translation activities to maximise the benefit of science and technology to the economy and society.

In 2018, Rachel was a member of the social sciences panel for the ARC Research Engagement and Impact assessment exercise. In 2015 she was invited to appear as an expert witness before the Senate Economic References Committee inquiry into Australia’s innovation system. She has worked as an advisor on knowledge transfer activities for several public organisations.

She has led large-scale multi-disciplinary partnerships across multiple research funding categories including ARC, CRC and commercial research. She has been a Lead Chief Investigator on three ARC Discovery Projects and a Chief Investigator on four ARC Linkage Projects and the Centre of Excellence in Creative Industries and Innovation.

Her publications appear in leading international journals in the field including Economic Geography, Sociology, Regional Studies, Industrial and Corporate Change, Environment and Planning A, Organization Studies, Entrepreneurship Theory and Practice and Work, Employment and Society.  Rachel’s top ten publications are in the top ten per cent of most influential journals in the field (SCOPUS). In addition to academic publications, her research on industrial innovation has been published in the Australia Higher Education Supplement and The Conversation.

Rachel’s leadership roles have involved the development of impact pathways including the coordination, design and delivery of workshops with industry and government to maximise industry awareness of emerging industrial opportunities as well as the barriers to adoption and industry development within particular sectors, sub-sectors and niches.

Drawing on her links with government, industry associations and Growth Centres, Rachel develops collaborations to design policy solutions to overcome barriers to industry transformation as well as strategies for collaboration and coordination to support future industry growth opportunities.

Rachel is regularly invited to present to industry and government. During the past two years she presented at ten major mining industry events, including the Global Mining Group Future of Mining conference and the AiGroup, Technology Transformation in Mining breakfast. In 2019 she was a member of the Future of Workforce Skills in Mining panel at the Austmine national conference. She is the Technology Leader – Business Systems for Mining3 and a member of the CRC Ore Implementation Council.

At the core of the UQ Global Change Institute’s strategic operations is a cohort of professional staff tasked with connecting, convening, and catalysing large-scale transdisciplinary research initiatives that attract external investment​. UQ Innovation brokers are skilled professional staff from diverse backgrounds who use collaborative and multidisciplinary approaches to enhance transdisciplinary practice, drawing on UQ's research strengths (disciplines, infrastructure, networks).

UQ Innovation brokers are responsible for:

  • Connecting researchers to Grand Challenges on the horizons of partners/stakeholders
  • Building collaborative partnerships to address global research challenges
  • Brokering by understanding the value and needs of researchers and their partners.


Alex Blauensteiner

Innovation Broker
E: Blauensteiner

Alex is an experienced leader with a track record in driving successful implementation of innovative models that address complex problems. He has held senior executive roles in government and private sectors and worked in Australia, USA, Europe and Asia.

His experience includes leading technology-focused businesses successful entry into international markets, establishing major public-private collaborations, leading growth of knowledge-based industries and driving initiatives that improved regional innovation ecosystem performance.

Alex played a lead role in the formation of the Queensland Hydrogen Industry Group (H2Q), working with 40 industry, government and research partners to identify key challenges, develop strategy and secure operational funding.

He also led a successful national innovation intermediary network which established hundreds of industry and research sector partnerships to solve industry innovation challenges.

Alex is an advisor to a range of private and not for profit organisations focused on hydrogen industry development, regional economic growth, development of knowledge industry precincts and scaling startup businesses.


Laura G. Carrascosa, PhD.

Innovation Broker
E: G. Carrascosa

Laura has more than a decade of experience in fostering successful research programs to ensure impact.

Her passion is to help researchers and research organisations dream big and achieve success in their goal to address challenges of global significance. A researcher and innovator at heart, she has led transdisciplinary research at the intersection of medicine, biology, technology, chemistry and physics, and successfully navigated the entire spectrum from fundamental discovery to patent and commercialisation of her research through the Start-up company aiGene.

She has also held engagement and research development roles at Mater and UQ-Diamantina, establishing new capacity to foster innovations, secure national and international funding, build enduring partnerships, and design elegant solutions to ensure impact.

Laura has also held consumer representative and engagement roles, and thus brings a highly developed consumer-focus to her brokering approach to research.

She actively promotes the co-design of projects by helping researchers actively work together with end-users and other key stakeholders to multiply their research and translational value.


Petra Lundgren, PhD.

Innovation Broker

Petra Lundgren, PhD

Petra joins the UQ team following five years of managing and directing strategic science programs for the Great Barrier Reef Foundation.

During this time, she established and managed a science portfolio focusing on restoring and building resilience of coral reef ecosystems.

Throughout a diverse career spanning research, government and not-for profit organisations, science has always been front and centre of her roles.

She has PhD in Molecular ecology and spent three years with the Australian Institute of Marine Science investigating the genetics of stress adaptation in corals.

Other career highlights include establishing the Marine Science for Management research grants in East Africa during her time with the Swedish development cooperation agency and providing species and ecosystem vulnerability assessments and scientific support during the development the first Reef 2050 Plan for the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority.

With a passion for incentivising collaborations around scientific solutions to global environmental challenges, she has always gravitated towards roles at the intersection of science, conservation, innovation and impact.


Tony Tucker

Innovation Broker
E: Tucker

Anthony (Tony) Tucker joined the Global Change Institute in February 2021.

His role involves the assemblage, facilitation and stewardship of diverse and highly skilled trans-disciplinary teams from across science, industry and government with intent to catalyse innovation.

Before coming to GCI, Tony worked for James Cook University assisting to establish the JCU Connect brand as a new model for the university’s industry engagement and commercialisation activities. From 2016 to 2017, Tony worked for University of Technology Sydney as research engagement manager in the portfolio of Defence.

Tony has a background in acoustic engineering and commercial audio technology. He has previously worked in commercial R&D, most notably with Dolby Laboratories as a research engineer and part of the team that designed and engineered Dolby’s first voice conference phone in partnership with BT (British Telecom).

Tony brings a pragmatic, honest brokerage approach to his role to influence and attract industry in the establishment of long-term strategic partnerships. He is capable of effectively communicating across the many echelons of government, industry and across the domain of academia.

Tony is a capable practitioner of university industry engagement with knowledge and experience of applying the various weights and levers available to propose attractive models of value and engagement for all parties.


Crighton Nichols, PhD.

Manager, Research Impact Nexus
E: Nichols

Crighton is passionate about harnessing the creative potential of diverse stakeholders when collaborating on inspirational challenges that benefit society at a systemic level.

He leverages his understanding of agile, (complex) systems, computational, and design thinking when doing so, and is inspired by Indigenous ways of knowing, doing, and being.

Crighton joins UQ from industry where he has more than two decades’ global experience designing and delivering innovative solutions in the technology/ICT, professional services, education, energy, health, agriculture, government, and community development sectors, across five continents.

He is a dynamic, proactive leader skilled in transforming teams, delivering sustainable results, forging productive relationships, designing overall strategy, and guiding organisations to higher peaks of success.

Crighton has a PhD in cross-cultural design and innovation and a strong desire to lead positive changes associated with the introduction of emerging technologies to benefit businesses and society at large.

He has considerable experience preparing organisations for the fourth industrial revolution, especially the design and delivery of responsible artificial intelligence (AI).


Cathy Wardius

Engagement and Operations ManagerCathy Wardius

Since 2009, Cathy has worked in management and stakeholder engagement roles in university research funding environments; before that she held positions in the pharmaceutical and health care sector in the UK and USA.

Her former roles include Business Engagement Partner for the Medical School at the University of Birmingham, where she fostered research collaborations and partnerships with major pharmaceutical, biotech and medtech companies such as Glaxo Smith Kline, Bristol Myers Squibb, Astra Zeneca and Pfizer.

Since joining UQ in 2019 and taking on the role of Research Development Manager at UQ Centre for Clinical Research, she has built trusted relationships with UQ researchers and developed strong transdisciplinary research networks across several UQ Faculties and Institutes and with partners such as Metro North and South, RBWH foundation, Herston Imaging Research Facility (HIRF), QIMR, Queensland and Australian Government Departments.

In addition to her engagement experience, Cathy has played a major role in strategic planning, performance monitoring and the development of project management systems across the Higher Education and Business Sectors. She also has extensive experience from the UK in the planning of research impact pathways and communication of the value of university research to society, economy, culture and the environment.

Michelle Claxton

Research Network Coordinator

Michelle Claxton

Michelle has worked across the university sector for many years in several core roles. She has extensive experience in student administration, human resources, finance and research.

During her time at GCI, she has administered funding agreements, research grants and coordinated the logistics for large-scale research projects.

With her knowledge of policy, processes and digital communication and systems, Michelle is currently responsible for the coordination and logistical activities of the Global Change Research Networks and Research Impact.


Ron Hohenhaus

GCI Communications


Ron Hohenhaus has promoted UQ science for more than a decade, establishing communication units within both the Queensland Brain Institute (QBI) and the Queensland Alliance for Agriculture and Food Innovation (QAAFI).

As well as obtaining his BA (Journalism), Ron's professional background includes communication roles with both the Queensland and Northern Territory public service, including lengthy stints in publishing, advertising and broadcasting.

His creative outputs span writing for theatre and radio, as well the biographical monograph: From Pigs to Penthouses: Peter Goodenough "man Bilong Wok". Ron has also penned many freelance items for popular magazines and written scholarly works about the enigmatic American author and humourist Samuel L. Clemens (1835–1910).

At the Global Change Institute, Ron's leadership, broad knowledge and hands-on experience allow him to advise on strategic communications strategy/operations, while overseeing social media and web content, eDM campaigns, promoting Global Change Research Programs, and articulating UQ research capability and impact.