"When the COVID pandemic hit, epidemiologist Professor Emeritus Mary-Louise
McLaws AO became the go-to expert for many journalists across the media
spectrum. With new research being released daily, access to calm, reliable and
knowledgeable experts like Mary-Louise – or “ML” as she was known to her
friends – became paramount for them and many Australians.
Her manner was friendly and unassuming for someone so highly regarded in
scientific circles. She had a gentle and calm presence on camera and a way of
cutting through scientific terms and jargon to get to the heart of what really
mattered to viewers, readers and listeners.
Yet she was also not afraid to question whether authorities were making the
correct decisions. She expressed concerns that too few measures were being
taken to stop the virus spreading through the air and about the time it took
for rapid antigen tests to become publicly and freely available.
And when Mary-Louise spoke, the audience listened. Yet, she never resorted to
hyperbole or exaggeration. When Australians needed someone to explain what at
times seemed inexplicable, she knew all the right words. She had a unique way
of taking her understanding of diseases such as COVID and being able to tell
audiences exactly what they needed to hear.
Mary-Louise passed away on Saturday aged 70, some 18 months after her diagnosis
with brain cancer. We had the privilege of collaborating with Mary-Louise,
including on a paper published today about communicating health and science to
the public. We hope to continue her legacy of building trust in science, even
as it unfolds."
*** Xanni ***
Chief Scientist, Xanadu
Partner, Glass Wings
Manager, Serious Cybernetics