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Women in STEM

Your questions answered

  • Question from Mia-Rose

    Hi Amy, Could you please tell me more about your discovery on how we can use our immune system to fight sepsis and to what extent and why you chose to research sepsis. Do you have a passion to fix it or is it something else? Thank you very much Mia-Rose.

    Answer from Amy:

    Hi! I’ve always been interested in bacteria and the human immune system. As we know, your immune system is incredibly important for keeping us safe from infections. In normal conditions, your immune cells sense bacteria and destroy them, thus eliminating the threat to your health. Neat, right? However, in some cases, your immune cells go a little haywire and their attack on the invading bacteria gets out of control. This causes massive damage to your own tissues and organs, resulting in a condition we call septic shock. In most cases, this leads to organ failure and death. This is all very counter intuitive: how can something that’s supposed to protect us end up hurting us the most? Mysteries about the immune system, such as septic shock arising from sepsis, are what attracted me to this project. I would love to be able to control the immune system one day through some sort of drug or therapy, and help sepsis patients.

  • Question from Antoinette

    Why do you think women should get all this educational aid? Is it even fair?

    Answer from the Office of Queensland Chief Scientist:

    Research shows that women in science and other STEM jobs are under-represented. To help address this, and to also ensure diversity in the workforce (resulting in diversity of ideas), female students are encouraged to consider STEM subjects and STEM careers.

    Without actually setting targets, educational aids and other mechanisms that increase the visibility of women are required from time to time. The Women in STEM Prize gives us a great opportunity to highlight the array of achievements of women working in STEM to young women who may not normally consider studying or working in STEM to provide role models for them.

    Answer from Cecile Godde

    Women are missing in science and in leadership positions. For example, women numbers drop from 53% of female science bachelor graduates to 28% of female researchers. The pipeline is thus very leaky! This is a shame because diversity in science and at the leadership table provides us with a whole set of complementary skills, approaches and leadership styles that are much needed to solve faster our considerable global challenges (such as food security, human health and climate change).

    To avoid a leaky pipeline in science, many interventions are necessary such as supporting women’s visibility and providing trainings for everyone in unconscious bias, particularly in job selection processes.

  • Question from Lily

    As a researcher in science what do you do every day? Do you enjoy it?

    Answer from Amy: 

    Hi Lily

    Thanks for your question! My everyday schedule is quite varied, and I love it because I'm not stuck repeating the same thing over and over again. I spend a lot of time in the lab, working on experiments and generating results. I also write science papers and give presentations about my work. Typically, I have meetings every week to discuss results and progresses. I also attend seminars regularly. The highlight of my week is tutoring undergraduate students in their practical classes.

    Posted by : Amy Chan on 2018-04-20 11:56:04

    Answer from Cecile: 

    Hello Lilly!

    Yes, I really enjoy my job! At the moment, I use software to model grass growth and animal herd dynamics under different farming management and climate scenarios. Research, contrary to what many people think, is not all about doing some mystical calculations behind a closed door. In my research, I meet and collaborate with a lot of people, learn new things every day, write, design communication tools, give talks to share my research with others, interact with media, and travel. There are many types of jobs in Academia. Some researchers work outside in the fields, others, like Amy, work in laboratories. Some people study very small bacteria under a microscope, others focus on the whole Earth or on Space. I personally do analytical and modelling analyses behind a computer, in an office, and I love it!

    Posted by : Cecile Godde on 2018-04-23 09:57:09

  • Question from Nikki

    What subjects did you study in high school?

    Answer from Amy: 

    Hi Nikki

    Thank you for your question! I spent the junior years of high school (grade 8-10) trying a range of subjects to figure out what I really enjoyed. I dabbled in graphics design, drama, woodworking, and advanced science, along with all the usual prerequisites (english, maths, physical education etc.). In my senior years, I locked down on english, maths B, Italian, logic and philosophy, chemistry, and biology. Best of luck for your studies!

    Posted by: Amy Chan on 2018-04-20 11:37:37


    Answer from Cecile: 

    Hello Nikki!

    Thank you for your question. In high school, I wasn’t sure about what I wanted to do as a job so I decided to study quite a broad range of topics. The, from 18 to 20 years old, I specialised in Biology, Chemistry, Physics and Geology and from 20 to 24 years old, I did a Master’s degree in Agricultural and Environmental Sciences. I am using most of these skills in my daily work: Although my PhD has a strong focus on Agriculture, it includes many disciplines and areas of research.

    Posted by: Cecile Godde on 2018-04-23 10:02:58