Labor leader Bill Shorten's former policy director, Anna-Maria Arabia, will join the prestigious Academy of Science as its new chief executive in October.
A former general manager of Canberra's science tourism landmark Questacon, Ms Arabia, a qualified neuroscientist and former chief executive of Science and Technology Australia, also has 10 years "in the laboratory" that helped make her a prime candidate for the role leading the nation's top science academy.
After spending the past three years overseeing policy development for the federal Opposition, Ms Arabia said she had seen how deeply undervalued science was in Australian politics and society, a key problem she aims to help turn around in the new position.
"We still have a long way to go to raise the profile of science in people's everyday lives, as well as the long-term challenges the world faces - from ageing population to climate change and food and water security, science should be at the centre of our thinking," she said.
"The stereotype of a scientist working alone in a laboratory wearing a white coat - there is nothing further from the truth, these days we have scientists in every field of endeavour, in the banking system for instance, there are mathematicians working on rates, engineers designing ATMs.
"I'd also include the social sciences as well - in addition to the role social science paly in understanding our world, our history, I think there is also going to be an increasing intersection between social and applied or theoretical sciences, particularly in communicating science."
Ms Arabia listed several priorities she hoped the Academy would work further on, including international engagement, helping increase the number of senior female scientists and the number of school students studying the sciences, to engaging better with industry.
But she said while engaging with industry was important to realise the applied benefits of science, commercialising science could not work without investment in "blue sky" research.
"You can't be successful at engaging science with industry and commercialising ideas at the cost of investing in public good science - that's where the ideas come from," she said.
Ms Arabia also said she remained concerned about a lack of "evidence-based policy" and policy formulation through budgets.
"Science simply does not work in line with the political cycle," she said.
"Where once scientists would be waiting on an election for a change, then a budget, now they're waiting with bated breath for a budget and the mid-year update to see if they will still have funding.
"The ideas we need and the decisions we need to make around science have to be long term."
While not a formal proposal, Ms Arabia also wanted to see science playing a more central role in policy decisions.
She said Australia could benefit from importing a United Kingdom idea - the Parliamentary Office of Science and Technology - which produces evidence-based updates for politicians on all new legislation - adding a new dimension to the traditional regulation analysis.
"It wouldn't matter exactly how it would operate, as long as it was independent, but it would mean that when (politicians) are making decisions they would have a clear statement of the scientific evidence surrounding an issue," she said.
"I understand not every decision would come down to science - there are political factors involved in all government decisions - but at least having that resource would mean they could consider the science behind a particular proposal before voting on it."