Science & Technology Australia congratulates nine brilliant and diverse emerging STEM leaders on winning prestigious scholarships for Science Meets Parliament 2023.
These highly-contested scholarships were awarded in six categories this year – First Nations, LGBTIQA+, Rural and Remote, Disability, Neurodivergent and Technology.
The scholarships are generously sponsored by the Australian Academy of Technology & Engineering (First Nations), the Australian Technology Network of Universities (Technology and LGBTQIA+), ARC Centre of Excellence in Exciton Science (First Nations), the Australian Academy of Science (First Nations), UNSW Sydney (Disability), New Edge Microbials (Rural and Remote), and Pawsey Supercomputing Centre (Neurodivergent).
The scholarship judges said it was incredibly hard to select from an exceptional field – and commended all applicants on their STEM leadership.
These scholarships enable participation from a diverse cohort of emerging STEM leaders across Australia, reflecting STA’s leadership as a champion of equity, diversity and inclusion.
The scholarships include access to the full Science Meets Parliament event program from, a meeting with a Parliamentarian, and the national gala dinner.
This year’s inspiring First Nations Scholarship winners are Courtney-Jay Williams, Dr Jordan Pitt and Toni Hay.
First Nations scholarships are generously sponsored by the Australian Academy of Technology & Engineering (ATSE), the ARC Centre of Excellence in Exciton Science, and the Australian Academy of Science.
Courtney-Jay Williams is a Gamilaraay environmental scientist helping people across the Pacific adapt to our changing climate. As Principal Advisor at Indigenous Climate Change, her main focus is on climate adaptation and disaster risk reduction for Indigenous people. She has a special interest in combining scientific and traditional knowledge to enhance biodiversity and ecosystem monitoring and management.
Dr Jordan Pitt is a descendant of the Birri Gubba people of Northern Queensland. He completed his PhD at the Australian National University, producing numerical methods to model the impact of tsunamis. He is now studying the interaction of ocean waves and sea ice as a lecturer at the University of Adelaide. His current research aims to improve our understanding of and models for the interaction of ocean waves and sea ice, to enhance current climate models and thus improve future climate predictions.
Toni Hay is a Gomeroi woman who grew up in Yolngu homelands in the Northern Territory. She is a climate specialist, environmental sustainability expert, and author dedicated to developing adaptation plans to address the issues facing Indigenous and vulnerable communities who bear the burden of climate change. Toni is passionate about finding practical and realistic solutions to environmental concerns in our region. Her scientific knowledge is combined with her unique background, experiences, and insights to provide meaningful solutions for people and society to embrace sustainability and support the world’s most vulnerable people.
Isabella Robinson is our outstanding recipient of our Neurodivergent Scholarship, generously sponsored by Pawsey Supercomputing Centre.
Isabella is passionate about science communication and advocacy. She works at The Australian Academy of Science, where she is responsible for promoting science to the general public and advocating for the importance of scientific research to policymakers. She was diagnosed with ADHD last year, and understands the challenges faced by neurodivergent individuals in pursuing a career in science. She is committed to advocating for policies and programs that promote neurodiversity and inclusivity in STEM fields, and to breaking down the stereotypes and biases that often prevent neurodivergent individuals from pursuing their passions.
Our Rural and Remote Scholarships are awarded to STEM professionals living 150km or more from Australia’s major cities. Dr Shelley Templeman and Adele Pentland have been awarded scholarships sponsored by New Edge Microbials.
Dr Shelley Templeman grew up on cattle stations in central Australia with her father working as a stockman/ boreman and her mother being governess for her on School of the Air. Financially, it was not possible to attend university full time, so she undertook an Associate Diploma in Science by correspondence while working as a laboratory / field assistant in Kakadu National Park. She graduated with her doctorate in 2012, and her career has taken her to a diverse range of remote environments including Kakadu National Park, West Papua, and Antarctica. Her focus is aquatic ecosystems integrating source to sink concepts. This includes providing expert advice and assessment of water quality monitoring programs and aquatic ecosystem health for community, industry, mining and government.
Adele Pentland is a palaeontologist at the Australian Age of Dinosaurs Museum of Natural History (AAOD) in Winton, central western Queensland and part-time PhD student at Swinburne University of Technology. Since 2017, she has volunteered with AAOD on its annual dinosaur digs, which engages citizen scientists to assist in the discovery and retrieval of 100 million year old dinosaur fossils in the Winton area. The most significant discovery she has made is a new species of pterosaur, which she named Ferrodraco lentoni in 2019. The announcement of Ferrodraco garnered worldwide media attention. She also does podcast interviews to discuss Australian palaeontology and STEM more broadly and regularly speaks on Lost in Science on 3CR Community Radio. She is currently creating content for her own palaeontology podcast, Pals in Palaeo.
Dr Nikki-Anne Wilson has been awarded the Disability Scholarship, sponsored by UNSW Sydney.
Dr Nikki-Anne Wilson is an Early Career Researcher committed to advancing understanding of social-cognitive deficits in dementia and the ways in which we can support healthy ageing. She was awarded the Graduate Medal for Research Excellence for her PhD which examined the neuro-cognitive mechanisms associated with changed behaviour in rare dementia syndromes, and has received more than 10 prestigious research awards. Through her current role as Postdoctoral Fellow in Cognitive Health at NeuRA, she has experience collaborating with interdisciplinary research teams in order to deliver better outcomes for those living with dementia and their families. She is an active ambassador for greater inclusion in science and the benefits of a diverse academic community.
Our Technology Scholarship – generously sponsored by the Australian Technology Network of Universities – is awarded to Dr Hannah Jarman.
Dr Hannah Jarman’s research focuses on the complex, far-reaching influences of digital technology, including social media, on body image and well-being. Her award-winning and internationally-recognised research explores how information is communicated online, how networks develop, and the impact of use on young people. She also focuses on evidence-based prevention and intervention efforts which aim to mitigate harmful effects of social media. Alongside her research, she also works with stakeholders to translate research findings and promote awareness and education within the community, including mental health charities and global corporations. She also recently consulted with mental health organisations to create a coalition submission to the Australian government to inform the development of a new Children’s Data Code regarding online data.
Our LGBTQIA+ Scholarship – generously sponsored by the Australian Technology Network of Universities – is awarded to Shai Strampel.
Shai Strampel is a PhD student at the Griffith Institute for Drug Discovery at Griffith University in Brisbane, Australia. Her research focuses on enhancing the delivery of therapeutic cargo by developing a generic approach for controlling RNA encapsulation in protein nanocages. Additionally, Shai holds a professional staff position at Griffith University where she supports the Griffith Sciences PASS program. She is proud to have received the LGBTQIA+ scholarship as it aligns with her personal and professional goals of promoting diversity and inclusivity in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics fields.