Program Blog
Here you can read our latest blog posts.

From Corals to Antarctica: Carol has followed her love of microorganisms around the world

Interview by Charlotte Beloe Carolina Gutiérrez-Chávez is a Scientia PhD Candidate and one of our UNSW Women in Maths and Science Champions. She has always believed that following her passions is important and this week we got to find out how that has…

Medicine, microbiomes and mutations – Meet Natalia

Interview by Sara Loo Understanding cancer has been on the heart of Early Career Champion Natalia Castaño Rodríguez ever since she was a clinician in her home country of Colombia. She moved to Sydney in 2009 to pursue research and has quickly established…

A glitch in the matrix – meet Sara, the woman using maths to understand bacterial evolution

By Charlotte Beloe Most of us have a preconceived idea of maths as a dry, difficult subject… but is it really? Not according to Sara Loo; Research Associate in the School of Biotechnical and Biomolecular Science (BABS) and one of our Early Career…

Mad materials science

By Sara Loo Caitlin Healy is a lecturer in Materials Sciences and one of our Early Career Researcher Champions. She remembers always being interested in science, and certain moments stick out for her as having cultivated this passion for science. Thinking back on her…

2020 Vision for Women in STEM

By Charlotte Beloe At the end of 2019 Professor Lisa Harvey-Smith, Astronomer and Women in STEM Ambassador, gave an address at the National Press Club of Australia. The focus of this address was on promoting gender equity in STEM and as the first…

Hungry eyes: Poppy Watson awarded DECRA grant for her work on attentional distraction

By Charlotte Beloe Only three years out of her PhD, UNSW Women in Maths and Science Champion alumnus Poppy Watson has hit the ground running, being awarded a Discovery Early Career Researcher Award (DECRA) last month. This prestigious grant aims to provide focused…

Ladies who R

By Jessica Lee I love R. I’m that person who is always talking about R and encouraging other people to try it. When I found out that a Sydney chapter of R-Ladies was starting, I knew I had to join. R-Ladies is a global…

Future Champion Saya Takii: By 2030 I’d like to be…

By Saya Takii Genes are made up of DNA, composed of two chains forming a double helix. They carry important information for every individual or the coding of our development, growth, functioning and reproduction. By 2030 I’d like to be….  working in the…

Future Champion Stephanie Pratikna: By 2030 I’d like to be…

By Stephanie Pratikna By 2030 I’d like to be… an aerospace engineer. Since I was young I have always loved mathematics & science. Although I have only started learning Physics this year, I absolutely love it. This of course is very different from…

Future Champion Tammie Luk: By 2030 I’d like to be…

By Tammie Luk What would you be by 2030? Any careers you’re interested in? What do you want to be when you leave school? As a year 10 student, these are the most stressful questions. Year 10 is the time when we need…

Jump Into Uni – the ASPIRE Program Engaging Regional High School Students

By Charlotte Beloe “Wow!…can we do it again?” says the girl as she stares with wide-eyed fascination at her lava-lamp. Her classmates echo her enthusiasm, equally enthralled by the mixture of baking soda, oil, food-colouring, and vinegar bubbling away in front of them.…

A vision of success: Champion Dr Lisa Nivison-Smith awarded NHMRC grant

By UNSW Women in Maths and Science Champions Hot off the heels of winning the UNSW Staff Diversity award, the UNSW Women in Maths and Science Champions have seen more success with Champion Dr Lisa Nivison-Smith being awarded an NHMRC (National Health and…

Meet a Wonder Woman – Tasmia Zaman

By Akasha Kaleem   Tasmia Zaman is an international student who has come all the way from Bangladesh to pursue a PhD degree in Materials science and engineering. Her field of research is on lead-free Piezoelectric ceramics. She likes to make new friends…

Future Champs: By 2030 I’d love to be…

By Sara Loo Earlier this year UNSW Science ran Exploring Careers in STEM, a school holiday program for Year 10 girls. During the day, these students met with professional scientists and engineers and explored where they work and what they do. They were…

Champions win UNSW President’s Award for Embracing Diversity

Our champions accepting the President's Award for Embracing Diversity

By Sara Loo Last week, our very own UNSW Women in Maths and Science Champions were awarded the UNSW President’s Award for Embracing Diversity. The UNSW President’s Awards recognise UNSW staff not only for their work, but how they conduct their work – be it…

Day in the Life of a SciX mentor

By Nicole Richardson From the 21-25th January 2020, UNSW Science will be hosting SciX – an outreach program which allows Year 12 NSW students to come and learn about research from one of sixteen amazing PhD student mentors. Almost 100 eager students looking…

A sight for sore eyes – Meet Zahra Tajbakhsh

By Mahjabeen Khan Are you brave enough to travel 10,000km away from home to pursue your dream? Zahra Tajbakhsh is! Growing up in Fars province, Iran, Zahra always excelled academically in science subjects, so much that her family nickname was Dr Zahra. Years…

Most little girls draw flowers. This little girl drew 2-Acetoxybenzoic acid

Basmah Almohaywi

By Lisa Nivison-Smith From drawing chemical structures on the back of Panadol packets when she was a little girl to now developing drugs which may replace antibiotics, PhD candidate Basmah Almohaywi, has come a long way on her science journey. Originally hailing from Saudi…

Flying a long way to help the short-sighted – Ornella Mekountchou

Ornella

By Munkhshur Myekhlai Meet Ornella Mekountchou. Hailing all the way from Cameroon, Ornella has been interested in maths and science since her childhood. Her interests led her to India where she graduated as an optometrist from the Bausch and Lomb School of Optometry…

Microbes and Magnolias – Meet Mahjabeen Khan 

By Zahra Tajbakhsh  Microbiologist Mahjabeen Khan first became interested in bacteria when she realised these unseen organisms caused so much illness in the world. Her interests led her to a degree in microbiology at Hazara University, Pakistan then a job in poultry research organization…

Green, clean and making particles that can’t be seen – Meet Munkhshur Myekhlai

Munkhsur Myekhlai

By Koumbo Ornella Why is the sky blue? Why are leaves green? Why is the sun bright? These are typical questions we expect from children about the outside world. But not Munkhshur Myekhlai; she was wondering how she could protect the environment of her country…

Friends, Romans, Countrymen – Let’s talk Science!

By Poppy Watson We know through surveys that many people believe that scientists should spend more time discussing their work with the public. We also know that representation of females in science is not great. But is there a way we can tackle both these issues? Introducing Soapbox Science – a unique…

Science in Sixty Seconds! UNSW Champion Georgina Carson Wins 1 Minute Thesis Competition

By Lisa Nivison-Smith What do you think when you hear the word thesis? Long? Complicated? Boring? With the average PhD thesis being 150 pages and covering up to 4 years of research, it’s not surprising that those outside the scientific world would think this…

Quantum Chemistry? Molecular Physics? She can do both! Meet Dr. Laura McKemmish

Dr Laura McKemmish

By Dr Ruth Thomas Dr Laura McKemmish is not just a chemist or a physicist – she’s both! Straddling the boundary of two scientific fields – Laura’s research uses computational methods and theory to tackle the complicated problems in chemistry and physics, looking…

How do we ensure the world has enough clean drinking water? Ask the Namib desert beetle! 

By Parisa Moazzam Approximately 2 billion people of the world’s population are living with the risk of reduced access to freshwater resources. As a result, three in ten people lack access to safely managed drinking water services and water scarcity affects more than…

Outreach at the Sydney Girls High School Science Conference

By Dr Yulian Cao On Thursday the 27th of June, five of our UNSW Women in Maths and Science Champions, Nicole Green, Raisa Rafique, Yulian Cao, Emily Vohralik and Sarah Topfer had the amazing opportunity to be judges for the Sydney Girls High School Science conference. The conference is an annual competition where Year 9 students present the outcomes of…

She’s out of this world! Meet Astronomer Dr Mireia Montes Quiles

By Lisa Nivison-Smith After being fascinated by space from a young age, Dr Mireia Montes Quiles is now a researcher at the School of Physics, trying to expand our knowledge of the universe by researching one of its largest components – galaxy clusters. Beyond…

Genetics and Jazz: The Two Sides to Emily Vohralik

By Kristina Fidanovski Emily, like many scientists, leads a double life. She doesn’t begin with that though. When she sits down for this interview, she has an easy smile and ready words to set me at ease (I’ve never interviewed anyone before), and…

Band-aid for a Broken Heart: Kristina Fidanovski’s Adventures with Conjugated Polymers

By Raisa Rafique It was love at first sight for Kristina when she found her current research project at UNSW after multiple lab placement programs. Since then every day for her has been something like a wild quest into unlocking the secrets of the…

Conjugated Polymers – Plastics with Funky Properties

By Kristina Fidanovski If you don’t know what a polymer is, let alone a conjugated polymer, don’t panic. I guarantee you’ll get it by the end of this article. You use polymers every day – they’re things like plastics and resins, DNA and…

The Life of a Mathematical Psychologist: Jenny Sloane

By Emily Vohralik After moving halfway across the world from the US to Australia for her PhD, Jenny has found herself immersed in the world of mathematical psychology. She didn’t expect to be living in Sydney coding all day long, but she loves…

Cooking Up a (Chemical) Storm – Dr Ruth Thomas

By Dr Poppy Watson After finishing her PhD and doing research in medicinal chemistry, Dr Ruth Thomas decided to use her passion and experience in a more education-oriented way. As a technical officer in the teaching laboratories in the School of Chemistry, she…

Hand Up Who Likes Programming?

By Dr Poppy Watson When people think of computer programming (coding) they might picture a group of hackers trying to steal bank details or people making video games and coding YouTube algorithms. However, coding is an important tool across many industries and it…

Children’s Stereotypes of Scientists are Changing

By Dr Poppy Watson A recent study has reported that children are drawing more women than ever when asked to draw a picture of a scientist. In the 1960’s and 1970’s more than 99% of primary-school children in the United States drew a…

Looking at the shadow–The first picture of a black hole

 By Mireia Montes Quiles Astronomers have captured the first image ever of a black hole. As part of the Event Horizon Telescope (EHT) project, the team simultaneously took observations using telescopes around the globe to take one of the most detailed images ever…

#dataHackEd

By Jennifer Sloane If you go to twitter, you can see that #dataHackEd was trending just a couple of weeks ago. But what does dataHackEd even mean? What was all the buzz? It may be helpful to start with a definition of hacking:…

Standing Tall in Her Field

By Dr Lisa Nivison-Smith Dr Poppy Watson did not always want to be researcher. After a lack-lustre introduction to the world of Psychology at University, she spent the first part of her working life dabbling in sound editing and travelling. Almost a decade…

“Wow, You’re a Doctor?!”

By Dr Nirmani Wijenayake and Dr Gabriella Martyn The surprised reaction of ‘Wow, you’re a doctor?!’ was a common response we received from high school girls at the Women in Science Symposium, held earlier last month at the Australian National Maritime Museum for…

Beauty and the Bleach–Studying Coral Bleaching in the World’s Southernmost Tropical Coral Reef

By Rosie Steinberg Have you ever dreamed of going to gorgeous islands surrounded by coral reefs for work? I certainly have ever since I was a little girl, and throughout March I got to realise that particular dream in Lord Howe Island Marine…

Combating Dry Eye and Teaching Jui Jitsu

By Dr Lisa Nivison-Smith Meet Dr Emma Gibson – optometrist, researcher, science communicator and Jiu Jitsu instructor Originally hailing from Wales, Emma wanted a new challenge away from her daily life as an optometrist and so travelled halfway across the world to embark…

What is Psychology?

By Dr Poppy Watson When I tell people that I work as a researcher in the School of Psychology they tend to be quite baffled. “Does that mean that you treat patients?” they often ask. I have to tell them that I am…

Shedding New Light on Dark Matter

By Dr Mireia Montes Using the Hubble Space telescope’s past observations, astronomer Dr Mireia Montes’ group demonstrated that intracluster light—the diffuse glow between galaxies in a cluster—traces the path of dark matter, illuminating its distribution more accurately than existing methods. Galaxies are collections…

ASPIRE Holiday Program–Reaching Out to Regional NSW

By Kristina Fidanovski “It works!” The girl’s disgruntled face suddenly clears and lights up the same way her circuit just has. I don’t get to admire her enthusiasm for long though–I’m drawn away to make sure the group aerial testing their light-up helicopter…

More than Meets the Eye

By Dr Lisa Nivison-Smith Meet Dr Sharon Oberstein, the Deputy Clinic Director at the Optometry clinic on the UNSW campus. Breaking down the stereotype that optometrists merely make glasses, Sharon recently finished her PhD  doing the impossible–finding ways to help those with vision…

SciArt: Breathing Life into Research

By Rosie Steinberg and Melissa Pappas If the eyes are the window to the soul, can art be the window to the soul of science? Those who work and study at UNSW may have noticed some new art appearing near the Matthews Food…

Greening our Coasts–The Living Seawalls Project

By Dr Mariana Mayer Pinto I would like to start this blog with a full disclosure–this is my first ever blog! So, apologies in advance if it’s not what you expected, I’m learning as I go. My amazing colleagues from the UNSW Women…

St George Hospital STEM Information Day

By Dr Lisa Nivison-Smith Do you know what career path you would like to pursue? This is a challenging question for most of us, let alone a 15 year old girl. But some of our UNSW Women Champions tried to change this, speaking…

Dr Mariana Mayer Pinto

By Dr Lisa Nivison-Smith Meet Mariana Mayer Pinto-marine biologist, UNSW Scientia fellow, yoga enthusiast and STEM advocate. With a love for the sea from a young age, Mariana has travelled from one side of the world to the other (Brazil to Australia) to pursue…

Nicole Green: Scientist by Day, Chef and Cat Lover by Night

By Jennifer Sloane After 5 years of being a student at UNSW, Nicole still doesn’t get sick of walking through the beautiful campus and taking in all of the greenery and open space (at least when she’s not hard at work in the…

About the UNSW Women in Maths and Science Champions Program Blog

An Introduction by Prof. Emma Johnston AO Dean of Science and Professor of Marine Ecology and Ecotoxicology at UNSW Sydney I am very happy to introduce the UNSW Women in Maths and Science Champions Program blog. A blog written by women who chose to…