Dr Karen O’Connor

Missions Lead, Minderoo Fire & Flood Resilience

Karen is responsible for the design and delivery of a series of large-scale, multi-disciplinary, outcome-focused Missions. These Missions will draw on national and global expertise to accelerate innovation in mitigating bushfires and other natural disasters to help Australia become a global leader in fire and flood resilience before 2030.

Karen has been designing large scale innovation programs for a number of years at Minderoo Foundation, CSIRO and the Department of Defence.

She was previously Director of National Digital Missions at CSIRO’s Data61, part of a team aiming to drive national scale outcomes and deliver a transformative model for the Australian industrial research sector.

Karen also had a long-standing career with Defence Science and Technology and played an integral role in the delivery of the $730 million Next Generation Technologies Fund, including the development of their Grand Challenges program.

Karen has a Ph.D. in Medicine and a Master of Public Health. Prior to her work in innovation programs Karen was a researcher in molecular biology and epidemiology and has wide-ranging applied research experience addressing autoimmune diseases, HIV, field-deployable diagnostics and traumatic brain injury.