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To celebrate the International Day of Women and Girls in Science on February 11, we chatted to four women working in science in North Queensland.

We find out what drives and inspires them in their research, as well as what it takes to have a career in STEM. So, if you’ve got a young one eager to learn and explore the world we live in, show them that’s possible!

Dr Abbi Scott –Marine Biologist

What is your job?

I’m a marine biologist working on the Great Barrier Reef, in my role as a researcher at James Cook University, I work on monitoring and research in seagrass meadows and coral reefs.

How did you get here?

I studied marine biology at university, after this I worked on some citizen science and seagrass monitoring projects in England before deciding to do a PhD researching seagrass ecosystems. Since finishing my PhD I’ve continued researching and working on other seagrass and coral projects with the JCU TropWATER team.

What advice do you have for girls wanting to work in science?

Find what you are passionate about and go for it! There are so many inspiring women in science who you can follow on social media. Follow scientists in your field of interest, get informed and get as much experience as you can.

What inspires you?

Having the opportunity to find out more about our marine environment and doing research that can help to protect the environment for future generations.

What made you get into science?

I’ve always loved the ocean and started scuba diving when I was 14, from that point on I knew I wanted to work to help conserve the marine environment.

You can follow Abbi on Instagram @abbi.scott.science and Twitter @abbilscott

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Photo by Harriet Spark at Grumpy Turtle Creative www.grumpyturtlecreative.com


Dr Lizzy Joyce – Evolutionary Plant Biologist

What is your job?

I’m a botanist, and love everything to do with plants, but am most interested in plant evolution in northern Australia and Southeast Asia, and taxonomy – the science of discovering and naming new species. I’ve recently moved to Munich, Germany to continue my research at Ludwig Maximillian University.

How did you get here?

I’m a very curious person and have always loved the natural world and was drawn to botany and zoology so studied a Bachelor of Science at the University of Western Australia. Having a career in research has taken a lot of hard work, resilience, persistence, and collaboration with clever, good people.

What advice do you have for girls wanting to work in science?

Don’t be intimidated. Absolutely awesome scientists of all genders do incredible work! There are some unique challenges faced by women in science, so do what any good scientist does and educate yourself. Let your curiosity and passion drive you, work with respect, humility and integrity and you can have the most fascinating and fulfilling career, no matter your gender.

What inspires you?

Every day I’m inspired by the natural world – how can you not be when living in Cairns!? There is always something to be discovered and learned. I am motivated by that desire to understand the world around me and how it came to be the way it is today.

What made you get into science?

My grandfather, who was a brilliant man and prize-winning carnivorous plant collector, and my mum, a kooky geologist that brought me up with that appreciation and fascination for the natural world.

You can follow Lizzy on Twitter @e_m_joyce

Dr Lizzy Joyce


Rachael Walshe – Human Geographer, PhD Candidate

What is your job?

My field is human geography, so I explore people in relation to the environment. I research how our society influences our food resilience, education, sense of place, and well-being. I often work with schools, learning about the effects gardens at schools and in communities have on us.

How did you get here?

I grew up in a super rural town in the middle of nowhere. We had to be self-sufficient -food production is deeply ingrained and a way of life for me. I studied sustainability and agriculture in undergraduate studies and began to focus on the role urban agriculture could play.

What advice do you have for girls wanting to work in science?

Be bold and ask questions. There’s no way I would be doing what I am if I hadn’t developed the confidence to always take up space and ask a question.

What inspires you?

The basic need for food for us all to live. No one deserves to be hungry, and I believe everyone should have the skills to own our food production.

What made you get into science?

It gives me a sense of purpose. I don’t really feel like sitting by and watching the world suffer when there’s something meaningful that I could do… gardening, thinking, and researching gives me a sense of purpose.

Rachael Walshe

For anyone curious and eager to learn more about STEM, check out these great resources!
www.scienceandtechnologyaustralia.org.au
www.stemwomen.org.au
www.thegist.edu.au