Dr Foley has been the chief scientist at CSIRO for the last two years. She will hold the position of chief scientist of Australia for three years beginning in January 2021.
Announcing the appointment on Monday, Prime Minister Scott Morrison said: “As we recover from COVID-19 and look to rebuild a brighter future, the role of the chief scientist has never been more important.
“Dr Foley has a big task ahead to drive collaboration between industry and the science and research community, as we look to create jobs for the COVID-19 recovery and for the future."
“We know science will play a crucial role in helping to create jobs at this critical time, and Dr Foley’s skills as a talented science communicator will help sell that important message.
“Like me, Dr Foley is also a strong advocate for women in science, technology, engineering and mathematics and her lived experience will make her an important role model for aspiring young scientists.”
Dr Foley is the second woman to be named to the position, with Professor Penny Sackett having held the role from 2008 to 2011.
The Australian Academy of Technology and Engineering, of which Dr Foley is a fellow and also a board member, welcomed the appointment.
ATSE chief executive Kylie Walker said Dr Foley was an excellent choice to advocate for Australian science and to focus national thinking.
"Dr Foley has made significant contributions to the scientific community through her research and through her leadership of professional scientific organisations, including as a member of the ATSE board and former president of Science & Technology Australia," Ms Walker said.
"She is well-placed to provide high-level, independent advice to governments on science, technology and innovation.
"Dr Foley is also a strong champion for women in STEM and we hope her appointment inspires a new generation to consider careers in science, technology and engineering."