Ron Sandland, interviewed by Tom Spurling and Terry Healy, 20 September 2017

By September 10th, 2018

Dr Sandland was the Chief of the Division of Mathematics and Statistics (1988-1995), Chief of the Division of Mathematical and Information Science (1995-2000) and Deputy Chief Executive (2000-2008)

Edited transcript (PDF – 358 KB)

Interview summary

Ron Sandland was born in Marrickville on 13 April 1947. In the early part of the interview, he talks about his family background and his secondary education at the Kingsgrove High School. He describes the influence of his mathematics teacher, John Robson, including Ron’s invention of Simpson’s rule for numerical integration some years after Simpson!

He recounts his time as an Actuarial trainee at AMP, his years at the University of Sydney studying Mathematics, his recruitment to the CSIRO Division of Mathematics and Statistics and his work the Division’s laboratories in Canberra and Brisbane. Ron returned to the Division’s Sydney laboratories in 1975 and commenced his PhD at the University of New South Wales.

Ron talks in detail about his experiences, from 1985, as the Division’s Senior Regional Officer (for the Sydney region). This leads to a discussion about the merits of the 1988 McKinsey restructure of CSIRO and the role of a discipline in an Organisation like CSIRO.

Ron was appointed the Chief of the Division of Mathematics and Statistics in 1988. He gives an extensive account of his time in that role, including some insights into the relationship between mathematics and information technology. He discusses the role of the new Institutes and their offices and his work in developing links with secondary industry. In the later parts of the interview, Ron talks about his role as Deputy Chief Executive to both Malcolm McIntosh and Geoff Garrett, his work on the CSIRO Flagships and their oversight and his post CSIRO activities.


Interview recorded at Swinburne University of Technology (Hawthorn) on 24th August 2017 as part of the CSIRO Oral History Collection.


Copyright owned by Swinburne University of Technology. Some re-use permitted (Creative Commons BY-NC-ND).