Women in Science: from coral to defence, synthetic biology to memory


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The panellists were:

Jane Elith, University of Melbourne. Jane knows where the wild things are https://janeresearch.wordpress.com@JaneElith

Muireann Irish, exploring memory and dementia at UNSW and NeuRA www.neura.edu.au/staff/dr-muireann-irish; @Muireann_Irish;  m.irish@neura.edu.au

Claudia Vickers working on synthetic biology and beer at The University of Queensland www.aibn.uq.edu.au/claudia-vickers;  @claudiaevickers;  c.vickers@uq.edu.au

Claire Davis keeping aircraft healthy for the Defence Science and Technology (DST) Group, in Melbourne www.dst.defence.gov.au@DefenceScience

The conversation was led by Niall Byrne from Science in Public, www.scienceinpublic.com.au Niall is on Twitter @scienceinpublic

Your students can meet researchers in similar forums:

At Fresh Science – in most States http://freshscience.org.au/events 

L’Oreal – Girls in Science sessions in Melbourne and/or Sydney www.forwomeninscience.com.au/about 

Graeme Clark Oration schools program www.graemeclarkoration.org.au/schools-award.html

Science Cafe during National Science Week www.scitech.org.au/events/all/1740-science-cafe


Other links mentioned:

Thank you to Defence Science and Technology, the University of Melbourne, and the University of New South Wales for supporting the travel of the participants for today’s session.


More about the panellists

Jane Elith (Photo credit: WildBear)

Jane Elith knows where the wild things are. She develops the models that help ecologists, governments and land managers understand the distribution of species. Her research career started after raising a family and she is now one of the most cited environmental researchers in the world.

Jane is an ecologist at The University of Melbourne and won the Prime Minister’s 2015 Fenner Prizes for Life Scientist of the Year.


Muireann_thumbMuireann Irish
has discovered which parts of our brain are essential to imagine the future, ranging from simple things like “I must remember my
keys and my wallet when I go out,” to imagining complex events such as “my next holiday”. She has shown that people with dementia lose the ability to envisage the future.

Muireann is a cognitive neuroscientist at Neuroscience Research Australia and the University of New South Wales in Sydney. She received a 2015 L’Oréal Fellowship For Women in Science.


Claire DavisClaire Davis is working to keep Australian defence aircraft and ships operating safely. She’s developing optical fibre sensors that can detect for example when part of an aircraft wing, or a ship’s rudder is stressed and needs repair.

Claire is an optical physicist with the Defence Science and Technology (DST) Group in Melbourne.


claudiavickers (2)Claudia Vickers is at the forefront of synthetic biology and its potential to replace current industrial processes to make fuels, plastics, drugs. She also studies the biology of beer. Her work is all about redesigning yeast and bacteria and re-designing them to create sustainable and environmentally friendly replacements for petrochemicals. Claudia is a Smart Futures Fellow at AIBN at The University of Queensland.


DSC_6660-199x300[1]Niall Byrne is the creative director of Science in Public, a national science communication business based in Melbourne. He and his colleagues help scientists bring their work into the public space through media, events and festivals. More at www.scienceinpublic.com.au