Pictured: Professor Lucy Marshall, Executive Dean of the Faculty of Science and Engineering
The new Executive Dean of the Faculty of Science and Engineering shares her passions, values and highlights from her first few weeks at Macquarie.
Starting from a love of mathematics, Professor Lucy Marshall forged a career coupling complex statistics with real-life solutions to help manage Australia’s limited natural resources.
“In the final years of my undergraduate degree in civil engineering, I worked on an independent research project that developed mathematical water catchment models to help predict floods and support water quality following these events,” says Professor Marshall.
“I remember that being a real switch in my head, where I could see how you could use maths to describe natural systems, which was so interesting.
“It wasn’t until I started the practical application side that I realised I really am an engineer at heart – I get to use my mathematical interests and passion to solve real-world problems.”
After completing her undergraduate, masters and PhD degrees at the University of New South Wales (UNSW), Professor Marshall moved to Montana State University in 2006 as an Assistant Professor of Watershed Analysis. There, she worked at the interface of engineering and environmental science in quantifying uncertainty in hydrologic and environmental systems.
Professor Marshall returned to UNSW as an Australian Research Council (ARC) Future Fellow in 2013. In 2018, she was appointed the university’s first Associate Dean (Equity and Diversity), where she pursued a broad portfolio aimed at student and staff equity, diversity and inclusion.
It was Macquarie’s embedded commitment to collaboration that attracted Professor Marshall to the University.
“Meeting with members from the University community, I understood right away Macquarie’s vision and shared goal, which is to put students first,” she says.
“This vision has created a real culture of collaboration where everyone works together to achieve a common goal. That is a vision of leadership I haven’t seen in many institutions.”
From day one, Professor Marshall wanted to work within the powerful vision that guides the faculty and align her values to the cause.
“I didn’t want to present my vision. I think people in the institution have a very good and strong vision and I want to align my values to that vision.”
She says the three values that will underpin her leadership of the Faculty of Science and Engineering are transparency, inclusive education and nurturing future scientists.
“I think academic leaders need to be very transparent about how decisions are made. Transparency is key to achieving fairness and inclusivity.”
One of her primary passions is supporting the next generation of scientists and engineers.
In order to achieve this, Professor Marshall believes universities need to embrace transformation and widen educational access.
“I think that, as an institution, we are beholden to reach out to all of society. Universities have the potential to be transformative. We need to re-think the way we support students and how we set them up for success in the future,” she says.
A key highlight of her first few weeks at Macquarie was attending the early career researchers’ network retreat for the faculty.
“Our early career researchers are the ones who will change our world. They are the ones with a vision for how tomorrow can be better for our whole society. It is so great to see that our faculty already has a strong peer network that delivers development opportunities, and both structured and informal mentoring for these future leaders of STEM.”
As she settles into her role, Professor Marshall sees the embedding of collaboration into research, teaching and learning as an enormous opportunity for the faculty.
“The University is based in the heart of the Macquarie Park Innovation District. Through strong connections with industry partners on our doorstep, I see so much potential for us to develop authentic research partnerships that are all about research translation.
“Through these partnerships we can take our research and apply it for the better of industry, for the better of society and for the better of communities.”