Flinders Students Inspired by New Conference with Leaders in Science and Health

Year 10 girls with a passion for science at Matthew Flinders Anglican College on the Sunshine Coast will be inspired by some of Queensland’s brightest minds on Wednesday, 17 and Thursday, 18 November 2021.

The College is hosting a two-day interactive conference, Inspiring Women in Science and Health (IWISH).

Flinders Head of Pastoral Programs and researcher, Dr Louise McCuaig said the IWISH conference aimed to expose students to the diverse and often ‘mysterious’ careers that researchers and scientists pursue in their efforts to create a better world. 

“At Flinders, we have devised the IWISH event to explicitly address the under-representation of young women who choose to follow their passion in the sciences,” Dr McCuaig said. 

“It is exciting for our students to hear from the guest speakers, including 10 women from The University of Queensland whose research and doctoral projects in science and health lie at the cutting-edge in their respective fields,” she said. 

“And the particularly exciting aspect of this event is that it challenges our students to be actively engaged in devising and pitching a science-based initiative to a panel of judges as a real-world learning opportunity.” 

The guest presenters include dietetics Professor Helen Truby; developmental and reproductive biologist Associate Professor Josephine Bowles; Dr Alice Twomey, a post-doctoral research fellow in coastal ecosystems; exercise and sport scientist Dr Emma Beckman; and anatomist Dr Taylor Dick from the School of Biomedical Sciences.

The speakers are leaders in their field; for example Dr Taylor Dick is the winner of the International Society of Biomechanics Jacqueline Perry Emerging Female Scientist Award (2021) and the University of Queensland, Faculty of Medicine Rising Star of the Year Award Commendation (2020).

Students and teachers from the community will also be invited to learn from the speakers, with a free seminar event at Flinders held on Wednesday, 17 November. 

Flinders Head of Science, Mrs Emmie Cossell said, “At Flinders, we have students who are passionate and engaged in the Sciences. 

“We are determined to challenge, inspire and support these bright young minds through our College curriculum and extension opportunities,” Emmie said. 

“It’s also important that we initiate special events that connect our students with people doing real-world work that matters. 

“This event allows our students to engage in networking, to skill-build, and to recognise the potential this has for their future and explore what is on offer to them when they graduate from Flinders.”  

Dr Louise McCuaig said, “As a first step, our students at Flinders will digest and appraise the studies of our five guest PhD students. 

“Then, in small teams, the students will collaborate with their coaches to devise a change-maker strategy that promotes young Australians' recognition, awareness and advocacy of one particular PhD study.

“The final product could be a blueprint, a sketch, a prototype or a campaign, and must be

pitched to the panel of experts who will award a mock $150,000 ‘Inspiring Australia’ grant to the best pitch.” 

The College is keen to share the visiting researchers’ work with the wider community, and is inviting teachers and students in senior school on the Sunshine Coast and Brisbane to a special education event on Wednesday, 17 November from 3:30pm to 5:00pm at the Flinders Performance Centre. 

This community event will also include a panel of the guest researchers sharing their career experiences with the aim of further inspiring young women to embrace the sciences as a career or personal passion. Teachers and senior students can book their free tickets to the community panel event via this link.


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