Kirsty Galloway McLean, an Australian national, is currently working at the UNU Institute for Advanced Sciences (UNU-IAS) on the Traditional Knowledge Initiative, heading research on traditional knowledge and climate change, overseeing various communications activities (including as lead editor of the TK Bulletin), and contributing to research programs on access to genetic resources, biotechnology and biodiplomacy issues. She is particularly interested in cross-disciplinary research.
Kirsty has extensive experience with a range of international organizations working on global issues relevant to the environment in addition to her work at UNU. During seven years with the Convention on Biological Diversity (United Nations Environment Programme), her work focussed on biodiversity, biosafety risk assessments and information technology, and she was the chief architect behind the UN’s Biosafety Clearing-House. She was in charge of the scientific and technical information programme of the Convention’s Biosafety Protocol, where she acted as secretary to intergovernmental meetings, helped organize meetings of the Conference of the Parties, and represented the Executive Secretary of the Convention in many international meetings, ranging from diplomatic missions to expert workshops.
Kirsty has held academic and managerial positions at the Australian National University, including as Executive Manager of the Centre for the Mind (an interdisciplinary centre researching creativity established under the ANU’s Institute of Advanced Studies). She has also worked with the Australian government as a senior science and innovation policy advisor, Ministerial speech-writer, and as a technical advisor and risk assessor with the Genetic Manipulation Advisory Committee. Additional experience ranges from laboratory bench work to freelance journalism.
Kirsty has authored numerous policy, public and technical publications. She has contributed to a variety of policy committees within the UN framework (e.g. specialist bodies, Bureaux, Conference of the Parties) and national government (e.g., advisory committees, submissions to Cabinet), as well as environmental, cultural and educational bodies and grass-roots organizations.
Kirsty holds an advanced degree in science (specializing in virology and genetics) and a bachelor’s degree in arts (majoring in cross-cultural communication and linguistics) from the Australian National University, and a diploma in journalism. She is the Director of BioChimera, and has carried out consulting projects for various UN agencies, including the United Nations Environment Programme, the Global Environment Facility and the Food and Agriculture Organisation, as well as private companies and non-government organisations.