Students on the Sunshine Coast Get Inspired with Leaders in Science and Health at Flinders I-WISH Conference

Flinders in Science

To celebrate National Science Week on the Sunshine Coast, Matthew Flinders Anglican College is hosting its second annual Inspiring Women in Science and Health (I-WISH) conference on Tuesday, 16 August. 

The conference is an opportunity for Flinders’ Year 10 girls with a passion for science to be inspired and coached by six of the leading women researchers and doctoral students from the University of Queensland and the University of the Sunshine Coast. 

Flinders is also inviting senior school students and staff from schools across the Sunshine Coast and Brisbane to a community education session to hear from the guest presenters from 4:30pm to 5:30pm on Tuesday, 16 August.

Presenters will conduct snappy pitching sessions, known in the research world as a ‘three-minute thesis’, to share highlights from their fascinating projects. 

Students will learn of cutting-edge discoveries and research on diverse topics from galaxies and dark energy, to nutrition science and paediatrics, the control of germ cells, restoration of coastal ecosystems, and exercise physiology and healthy ageing.  

During the all-day conference program, Flinders students will also engage in interactive coaching and change-maker strategising to get up close and personal with real-world science and health work that matters. 

Flinders Head of Pastoral Programs and researcher, Dr Louise McCuaig said I-WISH was a chance for students to gain insights into the latest mind blowing research and future career opportunities.

“I-WISH seeks to address the under-representation of young women in the sciences and demystify and reveal the future pathways on offer,” Louise said.  

“This year we have six of the leading researchers and their doctoral students from The University of Queensland and the University of the Sunshine Coast visiting to work alongside our students in small groups,” she said. 

“This is also a unique opportunity for our students to learn from some of the brightest minds working in Australia about how to devise and pitch a science-based initiative to a panel of judges.” 

Old Flinderians Return to the College as Special Guests

The event's keynote speaker is Old Flinderians and University of Queensland PhD student, Naomi Fitzpatrick. From the Flinders Class of 2013, Naomi returns to the College to share with students her journey as a PhD student.

The guest presenters from the University of Queensland include dietetics researcher Professor Helen Truby; astrophysicist Dr Rossana Ruggeri; marine ecology and coastal engineer Dr Alice Twomey; and senior postdoctoral researcher and Research Fellow of the School of Biomedical Sciences (SBMS) Dr Cassy Spiller.

And from the University of the Sunshine Coast is lecturer Dr Mia Schaumberg who is an Old Flinderian and graduated with the Flinders Class of 2006. 

Dr Mia Schaumberg joined the School of Health and Behavioural Sciences as a Lecturer in Physiology in 2018. Mia was previously appointed as a Research Fellow at the Queensland Brain Institute and School of Human Movement and Nutrition Sciences (2016-2018) and an Associate Lecturer in Exercise Physiology (2012-2015) at the University of Queensland, where she continues to hold honorary adjunct positions.

The College will also welcome back Old Flinderian, Dr Angela Carberry from the Flinders Class of 2002. Angela will be a panelist at I-WISH, bringing her experience as a public health researcher and a Manager of Health Planning and Intelligence at Central Queensland, Wide Bay, Sunshine Coast PHN.

Flinders Science Teacher, Mrs Emmie Cossell said, “At Flinders, we are committed to challenging and supporting every student to explore their passions. 

“I-WISH reveals to our students what’s possible for their future in science and health, and opens their eyes and minds to how they too can help to create a better world,” Emmie said.  

The conference program challenges the students to digest and appraise the three-minute thesis presentations delivered by the six doctoral students, whose supervisors serve as team coaches throughout the day.

In their small teams, the students then collaborate with their coaches in interactive sessions to devise a change-maker strategy that promotes young Australians' recognition, awareness and advocacy of one particular doctoral study.

The final product must be pitched to the panel of experts who will award an I-WISH prize – sponsored by the College’s Old Flinderians’ Association – to the team with the winning pitch.

COMMUNITY EVENT: Tuesday, 16 August 4:30pm - 5:30pm

The College is keen to share the visiting researchers’ work with the wider community, and is inviting teachers and students in senior schools on the Sunshine Coast and Brisbane to a special education event on Tuesday, 16 August from 4:30pm to 5:30pm at the Flinders Performance Centre. 

This community event will feature a panel of the I-WISH lead researchers sharing their work and career experiences with the aim of further inspiring students to embrace the sciences as a career or personal passion. Teachers and senior students must book their free tickets to the community panel event via this link

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