Scientists from Australia’s national science agency will march in the Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras Parade for the second year on Saturday night.

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The CSIRO theme for 2020 is Biodiversity: The Rainbow Revolution, reflecting both the importance of diversity to CSIRO’s research, as well as commitment to diversity and inclusion in the workplace.

Two CSIRO scientists marching this year are both professionally and personally committed to diversity.

Available for interview:

Frank Zich, Collection Manager and Curator at the Australian Tropical Herbarium in Cairns

Frank Zich said when it comes to the importance of diversity within a species and the diversity of plant pollination systems, he said avocados are more than just a staple for brunch the morning after Mardi Gras.

"Avocadoes can be described as ‘intersex’, because their flowers have both male and female organs in the one flower, but they are fertile at different times of the day," Mr Zich said.

"One type of avocado is female in the morning and male in the afternoon, and the other type is male in the morning and female in the afternoon, increasing the opportunities for fertilisation and therefore avocado yield."

Alex Caputo, Postdoctoral fellow in biomolecular interactions at CSIRO in Melbourne

Alex Caputo said understanding the diversity of enzymes active in nature means we can use them as a template to solve other challenges.

"Enzymes are the building blocks that carry out chemical reactions, and they exist in an incredible array of ways in nature," Dr Caputo said.

"We can draw on their diversity to find enzymes that will make a reaction that requires less energy, or is more environmentally friendly – we can learn from the diversity of tools nature uses to solve problems, and apply them to new challenges."

Additional comments

CSIRO Chief Scientist Dr Cathy Foley said marching at Mardi Gras was just one of the ways the national science agency supported a diverse and inclusive workplace.

"Innovation happens when you bring together a wide variety of people with lots of different views and experiences, it can’t happen in a vacuum," Dr Foley said.

"Solving the greatest challenges means bringing everyone to the table to contribute, which is why CSIRO wants every voice to be heard and everyone to be part of the difference we make for Australia."

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