Qld Women in STEM winners announced, Superstars of STEM reopens

Friday, 22 July, 2022

Qld Women in STEM winners announced, Superstars of STEM reopens

Four outstanding Queensland STEM professionals were last week recognised for their work on green energy technology, nurturing diversity in STEM spaces, futureproofing the climate, and protecting ocean health through mathematics and communication.

The Queensland Women in STEM Prize, presented by Queensland Museum Network and the Queensland Government, recognises women who are making a difference to the world in science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) fields. The four winners for 2022 were awarded across three categories — Judges’ Award, Breaking Barriers Award and Highly Commended — with a total of $15,000 going towards helping support their work.

The Judges’ Award was awarded to Katrina Wruck from the Queensland University of Technology (QUT), who has been investigating environmentally friendly ways to convert mining waste products into synthetic zeolite as part of her PhD research project.

The Breaking Barriers Award was awarded to Jennifer Leigh Campbell from Griffith University — a proud Aboriginal woman, environmental engineer, researcher and lecturer who is fostering diversity and inclusivity through programs to overcome the stigma around STEM careers and broaden the scope of representation in Queensland’s STEM industries.

The Highly Commended Awards were presented to Alise Fox, a fisheries scientist who is using mathematics to monitor sustainable fishing levels and interpret rich datasets into stories from beneath the waves of the Great Barrier Reef; and Johanna Nalau, an adaptation scientist, for preparing and adapting for the impact of climate change by creating evidence-based models to support decision-makers in climate policy.

Queensland Museum Network CEO Dr Jim Thompson said entries to the 2022 Queensland Women in STEM Prize were exceptional and showed a depth and breadth of important work helping to improve our changing world.

“More than 50 Queensland women who have made contributions to STEM across the state entered this year’s awards,” Thompson said.

“These winners have shown outstanding dedication and leadership through ground-breaking research and initiatives to inspire STEM engagement in the wider Queensland community.”

Meanwhile, the search has begun for Australia’s next Superstars of STEM — an initiative to advance gender equity by turning more diverse science experts into media stars.

Run by Science & Technology Australia (STA) and funded by the Australian Government, and open to women and non-binary STEM professionals, the program has created 150 Superstars of STEM since 2017, including health expert Dr Kudzai Kanhutu (now a regular on ABC’s The Drum), mask safety expert Dr Kate Cole (whose media work led to stronger safety checks on masks amid a pandemic), whale expert Dr Vanessa Pirotta (seen on a vast array of media) and Gamilaraay astrophysicist Karlie Noon (author of the book Sky Country).

Superstars receive advanced communications training to build a strong media and public profile, be a role model for the next generation and supercharge their career. Participants are also paired with a high-profile mentor, supported to use their new skills to raise their profile and given the chance to visit schools to inspire the next generation.

STA CEO Misha Schubert said the program tangibly helps diverse young Australians to see themselves in science and technology careers.

“It’s really hard to be what you can’t see,” Schubert said. “Women are around half the Australian population, and yet are seriously under-represented in STEM careers and leadership — and at last count, only one in three experts talking about science in the media were women.

“The program is transforming and challenging ideas about what a scientist looks like, turbo-charging gender equity in science, and giving more young Australians inspiring role models to encourage them into STEM studies and careers.”

The next 60 Superstars of STEM will participate in the program for two years, starting in January 2023. Applications are open now and close on 14 August — for more information and to apply, click here.

Image caption: Queensland Minister for the Arts Leeanne Enoch, Member for Mount Ommaney Jess Pugh and the winners of the 2022 Queensland Women in STEM Prize.

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