Not all superstars work on the stage or screen and even less have engineering degrees, but a lecturer at Deakin University's School of Engineering has been named a Superstar of STEM in a new prestigious national program that promotes the achievements of women in the sector.
Dr Ellen Moon, a lecturer in environmental engineering, was welcomed into Science and Technology Australia's 2019-20 Superstars of STEM Program by the Minister for Industry, Science and Technology, Karen Andrews, at a recent event in Melbourne. The program aims to smash society's gender assumptions about engineers and scientists and increase the public visibility of women in STEM.
Focusing on heavy metals in the environment and how they move through landscapes, the risks they pose, and how to clean them up is all part of Dr Moon's research. Earlier this year, Dr Moon travelled to Antarctica on an all-female voyage as part of the Homeward Bound program, a leadership initiative for women with a science background.
As one of 60 women researchers recognised as part of the Superstars of STEM Program, Dr Moon said more high profile role models are needed for girls to identify with.
"A really important component of getting more girls involved in science and technology at school is having those visible role models there so they can look and see girls or women that are like them, and know they can do it too," Dr Moon added.
Through the Superstars of STEM Program, participants are equipped with advanced communication skills and then provided with opportunities to use them in the media, on stage, and in speaking with decision-makers.
"I am really excited about this opportunity to learn more about science communication and to continue my work promoting science to young people in the Geelong area, especially young girls," Dr Moon said.
Deakin's Executive Dean for the Faculty of Science, Engineering and Built Environment, Professor Karen Hapgood, said the university is highly supportive of women in STEM: "Deakin knows that when women are given the opportunity to succeed in STEM they don't just contribute, they lead the pack."
Professor Hapgood explained the university has two female Australian Laureates leading the world in STEM research.
"Professor Maria Forsyth's research into battery technology is breaking new ground, and Professor Svetha Venkatesh is recognised as one of Australia's leading experts in pattern analysis for accelerating scientific innovation," Dr Hapgood said.