Science adventures at a young age

11 July

Growing up as a little girl with four siblings on five acres of land was fun. I got to explore the outdoors and its intricate surrounds, and was never really connected to social media. Watching tadpoles in our pond change to frogs over time and catching all sorts of insect was all the mind boggling mysteries a young child needed to start to wonder: why did things occur and how does life go on and transform into different things?

At a young age, I was fascinated by how things worked and would pull things apart just to find the answers. This interest was always encouraged by both my parents and, later in school, by my teachers. Great teachers in years 11 and 12 provided me with foundations of chemistry, physics and maths that opened my opportunities for University courses. I ended up studying Biological Science at University, although interestingly I have now found myself drawn back to the field of physics, where I can once again explore the basic fundamentals of expanding scientific knowledge. Whilst high school teachers were the key to keeping me inspired in my teenage years, I think my inspiration and thirst for knowledge started at a very young age.

Today, I see in my own two young children different behaviours. We spend hours outside asking questions on why things are there and what role they play. My son, who is eight years old, is fascinated with how and why things work, and loves experimenting with things, building models and Lego. At a young age, he was clearly science minded. Whilst my daughter, four years old, loves her dolls and playing dress ups. Its only when we do science experiments together, she can see the fun side of how things can happen; whether its mixing densities of sugar solutions to create a rainbow or growing coloured sugar crystals, she is fascinated by how it happens.

Intriguingly, role play and social media for children at a young age is still stereotypical, even in kids’ cartoons. If I think about scientist role models for young girls that are persistently present in social media, it is hard to name anyone. Whilst we see many young women as fashion models in magazines and on TV, and as beauty therapists in shopping centres, who represents female scientists in our everyday lives for our children? Even the majority of the girl toys at shops are dolls with fashion accessories, with the exception of “Dora the Explorer” and “Doc McStuffin” and the science toys are located next to the boy’s toy aisles.

So how are young girls to know that science is a possibility if they are not exposed to the exciting new opportunities at a young age? It’s really only through their parents. If we are to succeed in increasing the number of women in science, especially chemistry, physics and mathematics, should we target younger girls? As once they reach high school, do they already have their own mindset, or is it just a natural evolutionary state of mind that occurs?

 

DR CONNIE DARMANIN

RESEARCH FELLOW

XFEL GROUP LEADER

ARC CENTRE OF EXCELLENCE IN ADVANCED MOLECULAR IMAGING

DEPARTMENT OF CHEMISTRY AND PHYSICS, LA TROBE UNIVERSITY

http://www.growingtallpoppies.com/ 

Joan Kirner Young & Emerging Women Leaders Program

27 June

As Victoria's first and only female premier, the late Joan Kirner's political legacy is characterised by her commitment to promoting women and reforming education.

Joan dedicated her career to mentoring many young people and women. The Victorian Government is recognising her legacy through the new Joan Kirner Young and Emerging Women Leaders program.

The Joan Kirner program will enable up-and-coming female leaders to obtain the critical skills, networks and experiences required to advance their leadership careers. It will empower women to progress as influential leaders in their communities, sectors and areas of interest.

To apply please click the button below. Applications close on Monday, 3 July 2017.

Applications open for Women's Board Leadership Program

27 June

The Office of Prevention and Women's Equality Department of Premier and Cabinet is offering 100 scholarships in partnership with Leadership Victoria and the Australian Institute of Company Directors for Victorian weomen to access board governance training through the new Women's Board Leadership program (formerly Victorian Women's Governance Scholarship Program). 

The Women’s Board Leadership Program will support women to become influential board directors and leaders. This initiative was established in response to findings from Safe and Strong – A Victorian Gender Equality Strategy. The strategy notes that women continue to miss out on the highest levels of leadership and decision making in business, government and the community.

The new program will provide board governance training to enable a pipeline of new women board directors and to enhance gender representation in decision making.

The program will offer a tailored approach and a range of options for participants to select from, including coaching, mentoring and networking as well as the following courses:

  • Benefits of the Board
  • Foundations of Directorship
  • Board Leadership for Aboriginal Women
  • Board Leadership for Culturally Diverse Women
  • Self Advocacy and Presenting for Success in Interviews Workshop
  • Ways Women Lead
  • Company Directors Course. 

Minister for Women, Fiona Richardson, invites all women interested in enhancing their board career to apply for the program. Applications close at 5pm on Friday 21 July, 2017.

Applicants who reflect the diversity of Victoria’s population are encouraged to apply, including Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women, culturally diverse women, women with a disability, women who live in regional locations and trans and gender diverse people.

 

2017 BioMelbourne Network Women in Leadership Awards

9 June

The BioMelbourne Network hosted its 9th Annual Connecting Women Lunch this month.

At the lunch the 2017 BioMelbourne Network Women in Leadership Awards were presented, profiling outstanding women in the biotechnology, medical technology and pharmaceutical sectors. The awardees are as follows:

2017 Women in Leadership Award

  • Sue MacLeman – Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer, Australian Medical Technology, Biotechnology and Pharmaceutical Sector (MTPConnect)

Sue has more than 25 years’ experience as a medical technology, biotechnology and pharmaceutical executive with roles in corporate, medical, commercial and business development at Schering-Plough Corporation (now Merck), Amgen, Bristol-Myers Squibb and Mesoblast Ltd.

Sue has also served as CEO and Board member of several ASX and NASDAQ listed companies in the sector and is currently a non-executive director at Reproductive Health Sciences Ltd and Oventus Medical Ltd.

Since starting as the CEO of MTPConnect just over a year ago, she has released a well researched 10- year Road Map for the sector to enhance Australia’s successes in: commercialising research, streamlining the regulatory system, increasing our sector skills and capability, and accessing the global value chain. Within this short span of time, she has also forged strategic and collaborative linkages with the key stakeholders in the sector.

Sue is an outstanding leader and genuinely supports the sector stakeholders in achieving the best outcomes possible.

2017 Most Valuable Women in Leadership Award

  • Dr Kerry Hegarty, Business Development Director – Research, Innovation & Commercialisation (RIC) Team, The University of Melbourne (UoM)

In this role, Kerry is charged with identifying, developing and managing commercial opportunities in the life sciences. Kerry joined this rapidly expanding team as part of strengthened efforts and revised strategies to diversify the sources of research income and exploit commercialisation opportunities globally for the University.

In her first 18 months her team closed five licensing and collaboration deals, assisted with the raising of over $5M in venture and sophisticated investment, and identified more than 20 new initiatives by academics that would otherwise lay dormant.

Kerry has worked over the last 30 years creating businesses based on early-stage technologies, successfully translating benchtop science to global sales. Prior to joining UoM, she served as Managing Director/CEO of Sienna Cancer Diagnostics where she built the technical and business development teams whilst creating strategic global partnerships, which laid the foundations of the company. Kerry led Sienna to its first product sales in the US, where its unique in-vitro diagnostic test for bladder cancer is now used routinely. Her first venture in translating science to products or services originated at The University of Melbourne, where in 1985 she co-founded one of the first companies based on University research, Geotrack International.

Like Sienna, Geotrack started from novel benchtop concepts, which were framed into valuable products addressing an unmet need through the invaluable support of internal teams and selected partnerships. Her experience is spread across a diverse range of elements required in making start-ups sustainable, i.e. capital raising, grant writing, partnering, and team building.

Kerry is a Graduate of the Australian Institute of Company Directors, and has served as Company Secretary for a number of public, private and not-for-profit organisations. Kerry also serves on a Principal Committee to the NHMRC. The inaugural Health Innovation Advisory Committee (HIAC) to NHMRC consists of experienced industry professionals and academics, advising on current and emerging issues related to commercialisation and uptake of innovative technologies. Kerry is also a member of Victoria’s inaugural SMaRT panel, and sits on a number of other Boards and committees.

Kerry has a high profile in the industry and has served as a role model or mentor for many. She is generous with her time when approached by others for advice or support, willing to share her personal experiences and offering honest and frank advice to those who seek her counsel.

2017 Emerging Women in Leadership Award

  • Dr Elizabeth Williams, Co-Founder of Hemideina & Research Scientist and Team Leader CSIRO Manufacturing

Dr Elizabeth Willaims is passionate about translating science into products for venture and job creation. Her entrepreneurial pathway started during her PhD in synthetic chemistry at Cambridge, UK, when she became President of the Cambridge University Technology and Enterprise Club (CUTEC). Whilst juggling long hours in the lab, there she learnt about term sheets, fundraising, and the elevator pitch. After her PhD, Liz moved to Australia to pursue research in materials chemistry at CSIRO, hoping this would lead to a start up company.

Liz was seconded to the US in 2015 to commercialise CSIRO’s proprietary RAFT polymer technology. There Liz negotiated licensing and contract R&D agreements on behalf of CSIRO, and established a ‘finders relationship’ with a third party company to build CSIRO’s client base.

Upon her return, Liz partnered with her good friend and colleague, Kate Lomas to co-found Hemideina, an early stage company aiming to re-invent the cochlear implant. Liz is CEO of Hemideina, who are currently raising funds to develop their fully internalised, 2-component cochlear implant to overcome the lifestyle restrictions and high cost of the current technology.  Liz is still based at CSIRO as Team Leader for the Polymer Chemistry team, splitting her time between the lab and business development.

Liz’s goal is to be part of a team leading Australia to the world stage as a country known for bringing its innovations to the global marketplace. Her commitment to innovation is paramount and she sets herself apart from her peers in her ambitious pursuit of professional accomplishment. 

Prime Minister meets a veski inspiring women industry intern

4 July

It’s not everyday that a student gets to be in the same room as the Prime Minister of Australia.

Bipasha Kashyap, a 2016 veski inspiring women industry intern, did just that, and more, at the Master Project Expo in Melbourne on 3 June 2016.

At the Engineers Australia event, the Masters of Engineering Professional (Electronics and Management) postgraduate from Deakin University, and recently awarded veski inspiring women industry intern, presented her project titled Design of a Functional Observer for Interconnected System with unknown input to engineers and the Prime Minister of Australia Malcolm Turnbull MP.

Bipasha discussed her design approach to detect faults in complex interconnected systems, which could potentially reduce costs and improve reliability and performance of power grids, nuclear power plants, and tram and aircraft networks. 

For her efforts, Bipasha received the Best Electronics Project in Masters Level award at Deakin University.

veski congratulates Bipasha for her outstanding achievement.

Prime Minister meets a veski inspiring women industry intern

22 August

It’s not everyday that a student gets to be in the same room as the Prime Minister of Australia.

Bipasha Kashyap, a 2016 veski inspiring women industry intern, did just that, and more, at the Master Project Expo in Melbourne on 3 June 2016.

At the Engineers Australia event, the Masters of Engineering Professional (Electronics and Management) postgraduate from Deakin University, and recently awarded veski inspiring women industry intern, presented her project titled Design of a Functional Observer for Interconnected System with unknown input to engineers and the Prime Minister of Australia Malcolm Turnbull MP.

Bipasha discussed her design approach to detect faults in complex interconnected systems, which could potentially reduce costs and improve reliability and performance of power grids, nuclear power plants, and tram and aircraft networks. 

For her efforts, Bipasha received the Best Electronics Project in Masters Level award at Deakin University.

veski congratulates Bipasha for her outstanding achievement.

2016 Premier's Award for Health and Medical Research presented by the Hon. Jill Hennessy

27 June

On Wednesday, 1 June at an event at Government House, Dr. Stephanie Simonds was named as the Recipient of the 2016 Premier's Award for Health and Medical Research by the Minister, Hon Jill Hennessy.

Dr Stephanie Simonds was presented with $16,000 to further develop her research career.

In Australia and globally cardiovascular diseases are the number 1 cause of death. While science had speculated a link between obesity and the development of cardiovascular diseases, Dr Simond's research was able to demonstrate the linking factor, furthering our understanding and uncovering a mechanism of how cardiovascular diseases develop in obesity.

After initial experiments on the link between the hormone Leptin and obesity in mice, Dr Simonds went on to collaborate with a human genetics laboratory in Cambridge UK to confirm her findings and demonstrate that Leptin is the key factor linking obesity to hypertension in humans, causing increased blood pressure, by 8mmHg.

This research has led to a change in the way we think about researching and developing therapeutics for both obesity and cardiovascular diseases with the findings of this research presented widely both internationally and nationally. Dr Simonds has also been invited to present her work by numerous international organisations including Harvard University, Yale University, and Cambridge University and the research has been published in both Cell and Nature scientific journals.

Dr Simonds PhD was supervised by veski innovation fellow, Professor Michael Cowley*, at Monash University within the Department of Physiology and the Biomedical Discovery Institute.

The three Commendees announced at the event were; Dr Julia Marchingo, Dr Brian Liddicoat and Dr Thomas Oxley, each receiving $8,000.

veski was honoured to deliver this prestigious awards program in 2016.

*Professor Michael Cowley was awarded with his veski innovation fellowship in 2007.

 

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