Dr Foley is a world-renowned physicist and science leader most noted for her work developing superconducting devices and systems which have assisted in unearthing over $6 billion in minerals worldwide.
Dr Foley will start in the role at the end of September. She said her priority will be promoting science, STEM and women in science.
"Australia's future prosperity will be fuelled by science," Dr Foley said.
"Science which creates new industries, new jobs and shapes the minds and aspirations of our future leaders.
"We can't keep thinking about science as something which is locked away in a lab. It connects and drives everything we touch and do.
"I'm looking forward to not just spreading the word, but helping shape the science agenda and raising the profile of the role of women in STEM."
Dr Foley is currently the Deputy Director and Science Director of CSIRO's manufacturing business unit. She has been an advocate for women in science, for the communication of science and science education over the past 30 years.
She is credited with helping to create LANDTEM, a technology which uses superconductors to detect minerals deep underground. In 2015, Cathy and her team were awarded the prestigious Clunies Ross award for the innovation.
CSIRO Chief Executive Dr Larry Marshall said Dr Foley was an incredible leader and scientist.
"Cathy is a great contributor, with a passion for turning excellent science into powerful solutions for Australia," he said.
"I am looking forward to seeing her make this role her own, and bringing the voice of CSIRO science to help Australia navigate a path to prosperity through global disruption."
Dr Foley was awarded a Public Service Medal on Australia Day in 2003. In the same year, she won the Eureka Prize for the promotion of science.
In 2013 she was awarded the NSW Premier's Award for Woman of the Year. She is a Fellow of the Institute of Physics in the UK, Past-President of both the Australian Institute of Physics and Science and Technology Australia that represents 65000 Australian scientists and a Fellow of the Academy of Technological Sciences and Engineering (ATSE) and past national winner of the Telstra Business Women's Award for Innovation in 2009.
She joined the CSIRO Division of Applied Physics in 1985 as a National Research Fellow, being promoted to Senior Research Scientist in 1991, Principal Research Scientist in 1996, Senior Principal Research Scientist in 2000 and Chief Research Scientist in 2008.