UWA scientists named among Australia's superstars of STEM

03 Dec 2020 | 3 mins (including 1 min video)


A biotechnologist from The University of Western Australia who maps genomes of threatened animals to support Australian biodiversity and conservation has been named a superstar of STEM by Science & Technology Australia.

Associate Professor Parwinder Kaur, from UWA’s School of Agriculture and Environment, who leads DNA Zoo Australia, which aims to save endangered species by understanding their DNA , said she was humbled to be recognised among 60 brilliant women in science, technology, engineering and mathematics.

She joins two other UWA researchers named as national superstars – Dr Jessica Buck, from UWA’s Centre for Child Health Research and Telethon Kids Institute, and Dr Sabine Bellstedt, from the UWA node of the International Centre for Radio Astronomy Research (ICRAR).

“Emotional intelligence comes quite naturally to females and it’s becoming more and more important as we head towards the next technological revolution."

Associate Professor Parwinder Kaur

Associate Professor Kaur believes female scientists bring an interesting and different perspective to science.

“Emotional intelligence comes quite naturally to females and it’s becoming more and more important as we head towards the next technological revolution,” Associate Professor Kaur said.

“As per the 2018-19 stats available from year 9 and 10 students, only 50 per cent of girls consider a career in STEM disciplines, compared to 87 per cent of boys.

“We need to eliminate this difference, which is why it’s incredibly important to encourage more young women to pursue a career in STEM fields.”

Dr Buck, who is passionate about encouraging more Indigenous students to become involved in science, said she was thrilled to have been chosen from a very competitive national field.

“I’m so excited to be able to get the message out there to young women and girls, especially Aboriginal girls, that a rewarding career in STEM is something that’s possible for them too,” Dr Buck said.

Dr Bellstedt said she was thrilled to have been chosen from a very competitive national field and excited for this opportunity to share her love for science with Australians, through her astronomical research.

“Over the next two years I hope not only to speak with students about why a future in STEM is important and exciting, but also to help show the public that we can be proud of our scientific research, which will be critical in tackling the global challenges we currently face,” Dr Bellstedt said.

Science & Technology Australia Chief Executive Officer Misha Schubert said the program gave women in STEM stronger skills and confidence to step into expert commentary roles in the media.

“It’s hard to be what you can’t see,” she said. “Women are still seriously under-represented in STEM leadership roles.

“The Superstars of STEM program sets out to smash stereotypes of what a scientist, technologist, engineer or mathematician look like – these powerful role models show girls that STEM is for them.

“Sustaining this type of program for the long-term is more important than ever amid the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic on women in the STEM workforce.”  

More information about the Superstars of STEM program is available on the Science & Technology Australia website.

Media references

Nicholas Smith, UWA Media Officer, 08 6488 1888 / 0411 644 492

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