The 2016 Indigenous STEM Awards were announced in December 2016 at Gordonvale State High School in Queensland.
STEM Professional Award - Winner
Dr Christopher Matthews is from the Quandamooka people of Minjerribah (Stradbroke Island) in Queensland. Chris has a PhD in Applied Mathematics from Griffith University and is currently a Senior Lecturer at Griffith School of Environment. He has undertaken numerous research projects in Applied Mathematics and maths education. Currently Chris is the Chair of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Mathematics Alliance (ATSIMA), a non-profit organisation that aims to improve educational outcomes in mathematics for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students. Chris is passionate about teaching maths and science to Indigenous students to support their Indigenous identity and encourage more Indigenous people to work in STEM professions.
STEM Student Award - Winners
Greta is a Year 11 student at St Mary’s College on the Fraser Coast in Queensland. Greta is a flutist and a young leader having served as Deputy State Leader for the QCWA young Leaders. Greta is proud of her Indigenous heritage and has attended a number of Indigenous camps. Greta is also passionate about science. Her goal is to study a dual maths-engineering degree and work for Engineers Without borders.
Sharni loves anything to do with science. She is fascinated by robotics and is considering a career in Computer Science or Geology when she finishes her degree at the University of Tasmania, where she is studying science. Sharni travelled to The Netherlands in 2013 to attend the International RoboCup competition where she and her team won two world titles for their robotics presentations. Sharni is proud of her Indigenous heritage and is an active member of the Riawunna Centre at the University of Tasmania which has assisted her with three scholarships. She is an active member of her community and tries to learn as much as she can from tribal Elders so that she can share the lessons and skills with future generations.
School Award - Winner
Gordonvale State High School
Situated south of Cairns, 28 percent of the school’s 850 students are Indigenous Australians. Gordonvale High School has a strong commitment to teaching its students STEM disciplines to guide them towards careers in STEM-related professions. The school says the I2S2 program teaches its students not just science but values such as sustainability.
Teacher Award 2016 - Winner
Claire moved to Western Australia from South Africa in 2008 where she initially worked at a mine site. Claire’s passion for teaching prompted her to return to education while she was pregnant with her first child. She worked as a relief teacher and then returned to the classroom fulltime in 2014. Claire has been teaching the I2S2 program to her students at St Cecilia’s Catholic Primary in Port Hedland. Claire says the program empowers Indigenous students.
STEM Champion Award - Winner
During high school, Adam developed an interest in geology and went on to complete a Bachelor of Science at the University of Queensland. His work as a geologist enabled him to travel across Australia. After having a family, he retrained as a teacher so he could share the wonders of science, mathematics and technology with students and wider school communities. In a world undergoing revolutionary technological changes, Adam sees STEM education as vital to establish future careers. He has worked at schools with a high proportion of Indigenous students and has witnessed the I2S2 program and its benefits firsthand.
STEM Professional Award - Finalists
Bradley is a proud Aboriginal man from the Kamilaroi Nation in northwest New South Wales. Bradley grew up in Western Sydney and now lives in Canberra. Bradley has a Bachelor of Environmental Science degree and a Masters of Science in Hydrogeology and was the first member of his large extended family to complete a university degree. Bradley until recently led the only Aboriginal water unit in Australia, now he is doing his PhD. Bradley says his work in water is aided by ancient and tested knowledge of his ancestors on the driest inhabited continent on Earth.
Cass worked as an Indigenous cadet with the Marine Division of CSIRO while completing her degree in environmental science. Cass went on to study a PhD in Quantitative Marine Science, an area that fascinated her due to her interest in mathematical modelling. After finishing her PhD in 2010, she became an ARC Indigenous Post-Doctoral Research Fellow through funding and support from the Australian Research Council. After completing her fellowship, she was appointed a researcher scientist with CSIRO Oceans and Atmosphere. Cass hopes that by sharing her journey into science with Indigenous students, it will encourage them to study maths and sciences at school and to plan a career in a STEM profession.
Peter is a proud descendant of the Anaiwan people of northern New South Wales. Raised in Western Sydney and Tamworth, he left school with a Year 10 Certificate and spent the next 11 years working as a motor mechanic. Encouraged to go to university by two Aboriginal Elders, he moved to Canberra to study a Bachelor and Masters in Information Technology at the University of Canberra and he then completed a PhD in Information Systems at the Australian National University. He has since moved into academia and is currently the inaugural Dean of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Leadership and Strategy at the University of Canberra, Director of the Ngunnawal Centre, and Professor of Information Technology. Peter is a passionate advocate of STEM and in particular mathematics education for Indigenous students due to the importance that mathematics plays in future careers.
Renee is an Aboriginal educator at the Australian Museum. She is a proud Wiradjuri woman who grew up on the Central Coast of NSW. Renee was the first person in her family to complete Year 12 and obtain a University Degree. Renee graduated in 2015 from Macquarie University with a Bachelor of Science, majoring in biology. Renee is responsible for Indigenous Education programs at the Australian Museum. Renee grew up in a family that struggled with social and economic issues, including drug abuse and domestic violence. With hard work, determination and support from many people along the way, she’s broken through the cycle of disadvantage to forge a career grounded in science and the heritage of Indigenous Australians.
Tuguy is a Noongar man from Perth who has fought against the odds to study at university where he graduated with a Bachelor and Master’s degree in Health Science and is about to graduate with a PhD in Exercise Physiology. Tuguy has overcome significant hurdles to achieve his academic dream after quitting high school in Year 11 and studying at a TAFE when his teachers told him his grades were too low for university admission. Tuguy made it to university in the end, juggling his studies and work as an Aboriginal health worker at Debarl Yerrigan Health Service. Tuguy hopes to mentor other Aboriginal students and guide them to fulfil their academic and professional goals.
STEM Student Award - Finalists
Xander lives in a small country town near Canberra where he attends Gungahlin College after being home schooled until Year 10. He is a descendant of the Anaiwan people and was one of 50 Indigenous youth who attended the 2015 National Indigenous Youth Leadership of Australia National Gathering. Xander loves computer programming and building electronic inventions. He hopes to work in a biomedical engineering field and develop technologies to improve the quality of life of people with disabilities.
Brenton lives on the Sunshine Coast in Queensland. His grandfather is from the Kamillaroi people in central New South Wales. Brenton loves coding and gaming. He is already taking university subjects as part of the Headstart program, while completing Year 11. Brenton is an accomplished pianist and he recently completed his Grade 7 AMEB exam. Brenton hopes to be a biomedical scientist and develop software that serves as a human-machine interface. Brenton has a strong connection to his Aboriginal heritage through his grandfather and his mother who is an Aboriginal health worker and nurse. He recently started learning to play the didgeridoo, music that he says connects with his heart and soul.
Lucas lives in Bingie, a town of just 278 people on the south coast of New South Wales. He is a proud descendent of the Barkindji people of the Lower Darling. Lucas loves surfing and other sport such as soccer and AFL. When it comes to the classroom, Lucas’s passion is mathematics and science. His favourite subjects at schools are maths, physics and biology. Lucas hopes to study engineering at the University of Sydney and become a mechanical engineer.
School Award - Finalist
Glenala State High School
Situated in Brisbane, Glenala State High School had 777 students enrolled in 2016, 94 of whom identified as Indigenous. The school has a long and proud tradition of recognising the diverse cultures of its student body. The school collaborates closely with local Indigenous leaders who play an active role within the school and the local community.