Sunshine Coast Students Invited to National Science Week Panel at Flinders on Monday, 14 August

To celebrate National Science Week 2023, Matthew Flinders Anglican College in Buderim is hosting a series of events, including a free community event on Monday, 14 August from 3:30pm to 4:30pm at the Flinders Performance Centre.

The community event is an interactive panel discussion featuring five world-class science researchers and doctoral students from the University of Queensland and University of Sunshine Coast who will share their unique career experiences and cutting-edge discoveries, and answer questions from the audience. 

Flinders is inviting Secondary School students and educators from across the Sunshine Coast to come along as a chance to be inspired and consider health-related and STEM careers.

Tickets are free, however, bookings are essential at

The panellists are exploring diverse research projects – from galaxies and dark energy, to nutrition science and paediatric wellbeing, the impact of toxins on germ cells, the future of water sensitive urban design, countering blue screen impact on macular degeneration, and fighting dementia and chronic illness through exercise.

Head of the Flinders Discovery Institute, Dr Louise McCuaig said, “Flinders is hosting this National Science Week panel event because we want students across the Sunshine Coast to meet leading scientists face-to-face and be inspired by their grit, creativity, intelligence and determination to help make the world a better place.

“It’s rewarding to offer students authentic opportunities to explore, debate and critically reflect on the personal and professional journeys of these outstanding visiting role models,” Dr McCuaig said. 

“We hope this discussion supports students as they choose their subjects for Senior School and consider tertiary and training options for life beyond Year 12 graduation. 

“The event is also a chance for our audience to be amazed as they learn about the innovative research projects underway in Queensland that are of global significance.”  

The panel will feature:
  • Dr Rossana Ruggeri, a cosmologist and research fellow at the University of Queensland who maps galaxies and investigates dark energy
  • Associate Professor Josephine Bowls, a leading germ cell biology researcher at the University of Queensland whose work is relevant to human fertility
  • Naomi Fitzpatrick, a dietitian and doctoral student at the University of Queensland who is researching macular health and working as an Associate Lecturer at the UniSC
  • Cassady Swinbourne, a PhD student at the University of Queensland working in water and environmental biotechnology, and
  • Dr Samantha Stephens, a Research Program Manager and expert in healthy behaviours working at the Health and Wellbeing Centre for Research Innovation at the University of Queensland. 
Flinders Hosts Third Annual I-WiSH Conference on Tuesday, 15 August 

After the community event for National Science Week, Flinders will host its third annual Inspiring Women in Science and Health (I-WiSH) conference for its Senior School students on Tuesday, 15 August.

Through the I-WiSH conference, Flinders aims to address the under-representation of young women in the sciences and demystify and reveal the future pathways on offer. 

The 2023 conference brings together 48 girls in Year 10 at Flinders (change agents), 24 girls in Years 11 and 12 at Flinders (hosts & mentors), 8 leading women researchers (coaches) and 8 women doctoral students.

Flinders students will have the opportunity to learn about real-world research projects and to be mentored in how to devise and pitch a science-based initiative to a panel of judges. 

The Flinders I-WiSH is led by Dr Louise McCuaig and Secondary Science Teacher and Project Leader, Mrs Emmie Cossell.

Last year’s I-WiSH event was a resounding success, with Flinders’ Year 10 student Heather Brown giving I-WiSH 2022 a glowing review. 

“It was so amazing!” Heather said. “I highly recommend it for younger girls as well. I went in with an open mind and I heard so many amazing things. It makes me very excited to explore science.” 

Returning to feature on the guest speaking panel again this year is dietitian and doctoral student Naomi Fitzpatrick, an Old Flinderian (Class of 2013).

Naomi said of last year’s I-WiSH conference, “It was refreshing and wonderful to be surrounded by such unfiltered excitement, passion and creativity about science. It brings passion back into my work as well.”

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