Every student who attended The Innovators’ Tea Party received an event program with some information about the mentors in their session. We would like to share some of their amazing stories with you.
Session 1: All STEM Fields
First up, let us introduce you to Gina Ravenscroft, a Medical Research Scientist who will be attending Session 1. Gina is a NHMRC Career Development Fellow at The University of Western Australia and Harry Perkins Institute of Medical Research. She works on neurogenetic diseases with her team and tries to identify the cause and mechanism of these diseases in families or patients. We asked her to tell us a little about her work and why she loves what she does.
“I love that what we do helps patients and families, I’m very lucky that the research I do is immediately translated into diagnostics. One of the most amazing parts of my job is that I get to travel to conferences in fantastic destinations and get to meet and work with amazingly clever people from all over the world – the muscle research community is my second family. I have traveled to Italy, Spain, Oxford, Berlin and Amsterdam for conferences and/or collaborations.
The most rewarding experience of my career so far was receiving a letter from a neurologist in Turkey with a photograph and a thank you letter on behalf of a family that had lost two babies to a muscle disease. We identified the cause of the disease in the family and they were then able to have prenatal diagnosis for their third pregnancy and had a healthy baby boy. This was their first healthy baby.”
Session 2: Environmental Science
Dr Lynne Milne is a Palynologist and will be attending Session 2: Environmental Science.
Lynne’s role as a Palynologist is very varied as a researcher and supervisor at Curtin University and a consultant to mining companies, CSIRO and the police. She studies pollen extracted from sediments to provide information about their age, the climate and vegetation at the time they were deposited, and from soil and forensic exhibits to determine if there is a relationship between them. We asked her to tell us a little about how she came to be a Palynologist.
“I did my geology degree as a mature aged student after 10 years of high school teaching (Phys Ed and Science). When I went to school girls were not encouraged to do science, so I came to it late. I have always been fascinated by rocks and the Earth’s history. The forensic aspect of my work came about by happenstance 20 years ago when I was asked to work on a Queensland murder case. Since then I have worked on numerous homicide, rape and drug cases. What I love most is solving the puzzles pollen analysis presents. What age is this rock and what type of vegetation contributed to the pollen and spores within it? Is the suspect guilty – or not?”
Session 3: All STEM Fields
Lucy Forman is a Planetary Geologist and will be attending Session 3. Lucy is a Research Associate in Planetary Geology at Curtin University, having recently completed her PhD in the field. She studies lunar soils collected from the Moon and meteorites found in the desert under a microscope to find answers about how asteroids and other parts of our solar system were formed. More recently she has moved on to looking at Martian meteorites to calculate how long it has been since these rocks left the surface of Mars. We asked Lucy to tell us more about what excites her about her work.
“I didn’t realise I would still be as excited by my work as a full-time researcher compared to when I was a student. I think that is the beauty of finding a career that you are so passionate about. I went down the scientific route as I had quite a passion for vulcanology, physics, and understanding how things work. I love rocks- especially space rocks! I find the idea that I can discover new and exciting things about the Universe from looking at a little meteorite that has travelled to Earth quite incredible. No one was here to witness the Solar System forming, so I’m a bit like a space detective, which is pretty awesome.”
Session 4: Medical & Health Sciences
Sophia Nimphius is a Sports Scientist and will be attending Session 4. Sophia currently wears a number of hats as a Sport Scientist for Surfing Australia, High Performance Manager for Softball WA and Associate Professor at Edith Cowan University (ECU). In these roles she works with athletes, coaches and companies to help measure, discover and innovate ways to improve sporting performance or reduce sporting related injuries. She also works to promote women in sport using sports science to engage youth. We asked Sophia to tell us about why she chose to work in sports science.
“I have always loved sports, science and tinkering around with computers or electronics. I wanted something that could challenge my science brain but excite my sporting interests. Luckily the field of sports science and sport technology has erupted and let me combine the best of these formerly divergent interests. I love creating new knowledge and changing the way we investigate and improve sporting performance. My favourite part of the job is having the chance to be a true innovator every single day.”
Session 5: All STEM Fields
Camille Woodthorpe is a Game and Virtual Reality Developer and will be attending Session 5. Camille collaborates with teams across the globe to discuss, design and implement gameplay features for interactive mobile games and virtual reality applications. We asked her to tell us about how her passion became her career.
“I grew up with 3 brothers and through them was exposed to games from a young age. I loved playing games, and at around 10 years of age I also started making my own art. I really didn’t know what I wanted to do after high-school because no one thought game development was a viable, practical option, so I did Law/Commerce instead. I was lucky enough to fail a unit after a year, causing me to rethink my choice and change to a games degree. Instantly my grades became High Distinctions and I loved studying. It was a career choice of interest and passion. My favourite part of my job is constantly getting to improve my skills and knowledge in the ever-growing field of technology. I also like getting to say that I make games and work with emerging technologies for a living.”
Session 6: Technology & Data Science
Lakshmi Dabasia is a Data Scientist and will be attending Session 6. Lakshmi works at Woodside, where she uses data to help with the prediction and optimisation of different engineering processes. We asked her to share some tips for those students interested in pursuing a career in maths.
“I studied mathematics in university and didn’t realise how many career options were out there until my last year. Mathematics is something that is used across all industries but is not as commonly heard about. Don’t be afraid to pursue it if you are interested in it – there are so many amazing things you could do with it! Also, be proactive and willing to take on opportunities outside your comfort zone. With this, you will end up with a deeper understanding of how your skills can be used, and maybe even have found your dream career path.”
Session 7: All STEM Fields
Dr Shani Higginbottom is a Research Scientist in Industrial Chemistry and will be attending Session 7. Shani works at Alcoa in their research and development group. In this role she develops new analysis methods and trials new technologies in the alumina refinery plants. We asked her to tell us more about her work life.
“I had always wanted to be a scientist but after years of studying, I wanted more than just a standard laboratory job – I wanted to be out in the real world! My current field blends my love of science and research with real world applications, letting me work in many different areas and on many different projects. I lead one of our teams of experts to help improve the production of our global refining business. Some days I’m in the laboratory doing tests to find ways to improve the current methods of my industry, other days I am out in the refineries doing field work or helping management with decisions about how best to implement our new discoveries.”
Session 8: Engineering
Jane Macey is a Materials Engineer and will be attending Session 8. Jane was recently appointed Head of Engineering at Roy Hill. We asked her to share some advice for students interested in pursuing careers in Engineering.
“You aren’t an engineer forever – you don’t need to be in a technical role to get an advantage out of STEM. I’ve used my engineering background to provide a broad foundation to launch into opportunities to work with great people, in a wide range of industries in a range of roles. The roles have ranged from technical engineering roles to hard core, big team front line leadership roles managing maintenance/operations teams. I’ve had industry exposure to aerospace, manufacturing, nickel refining, oil and gas and iron ore. Engineering doesn’t trap you in a life in an office as an engineer. It is a base platform that enables you to take on a huge range of alternate career paths. Consider your education in STEM to be the toolkit that you develop to enable you to access any industry as a geek, a business person or a leader of people – wherever your desire leads you.”