Researcher biography

Professor Peta Ashworth OAM is the Director of the Andrew N. Liveris Academy for Innovation and Leadership, and Chair in Sustainable Energy Futures at The University of Queensland (UQ). Professor Ashworth brings over thirty years' experience working in a range of senior management, consulting and research roles. Prior to joining UQ in 2016, Peta worked as a consultant to industry, as Research Group Leader at CSIRO, and in senior executive roles for the Body Shop.

Professor Ashworth is a globally-recognised expert in the fields of energy, communication, stakeholder engagement, and technology assessment. For almost two decades, Peta has been researching public attitudes toward climate and energy technologies, including wind, carbon capture and storage (CCS), solar photovoltaic, storage and geothermal. An accomplished speaker and facilitator, Professor Ashworth is actively involved in building energy literacy more broadly both within Australian and globally, and regularly provides input to policy briefings, think tanks, as well as educational events for the benefit of the broader community.

In 2020, Professor Ashworth was appointed as the inaugural Director of the Liveris Academy for Innovation and Leadership. Established through the generous donation of $13.5M from UQ alumnus Andrew N. Liveris AO and his wife, Paula Liveris, the Liveris Academy is designed to cultivate the next generation of leaders with the capacity to address grand challenges at a time of dramatic socio-economic, technological and environmental change. In addition to hosting distinguished global leaders from industry, government, policy, and not-for-profit sectors, the Academy delivers a bespoke and highly-selective Liveris Scholar Program. The Program provides scholarships and enrichment experiences to high-achieving undergraduate students with a focus on sustainability, global technologies and innovation, and digital transformation.

In addition to her role as the Director of the Liveris Academy, Professor Ashworth is also the Chair in Sustainable Energy Futures. In this capacity, Professor Ashworth provides strategy, thought leadership and engagement associated with the complex technical, economic, social and policy challenges and opportunities as the world transitions to a more sustainable energy future. As Chair, Peta has responsibility for the design and delivery of the Master of Sustainable Energy. This one-of-a-kind, multi-disciplinary postgraduate coursework program is designed to provide students with a deeper understanding of energy systems, responsible business practice, and innovation, and equip them to develop transition pathways that provide more affordable, reliable and sustainable energy.

In her previous role as Group Leader at CSIRO's Division of Earth Science and Resource Engineering, Peta conceptualised and led the Science into Society Group, which specialised in interdisciplinary research at the interface between science and society. Peta's contributions to the field of sustainable energy include leading the social science research program of the Global Carbon Capture and Storage Institute, as well as working alongside Australia's Chief Scientist in the development of Australia's National Hydrogen Strategy as a Member of the Strategy Stakeholder Advisory Panel, and the COAG Hydrogen Working Group. In recognition of her service to science, Peta was awarded an Order of Australia Medal in 2019.

Peta was a partner in the Horizon2020 project Responsible Research and Innovation in Practice (RRI). The RRI project included a unique group of international experts to understand the barriers and drivers to the successful implementation of RRI in global contexts; to promote reflection on organisational structures and cultures of research conducting and research funding organisations; and to identify best practices to facilitate the uptake of RRI in organisations and research programmes.

Professor Ashworth continues to lead multi-disciplinary research at The University of Queensland relating to public perceptions of climate and energy technologies and she is a Research Leader for the Future Fuels CRC Social Licence to Operate work package. Peta's main research interests include how to deliver information to best effect, and how to facilitate dialogue across a broad range of stakeholders regarding complex and contested issues.