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29 March 2018 News Release

A remote school in Western Australia, an entrepreneur and a cancer researcher were the big winners of the second Indigenous STEM Awards, announced at a ceremony in Wiluna, Western Australia.

Funded by the BHP Billiton Foundation and delivered by CSIRO, the awards recognise the achievements of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students, teachers and scientists, with a view to inspiring more Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander student participation in STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) studies and careers.

Cancer researcher and Gunditjmara woman Dr Misty Jenkins, took out the STEM Professional Career Achievement Award.

As well as being the first Indigenous Australian to attend Oxford and Cambridge Universities as a postdoctoral fellow, Dr Jenkins has worked with Nobel Laureates and is a passionate advocate for building the STEM literacy of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students.

"It is important to have role models because you can't be what you can't see," Dr Jenkins said.

"By being visible, you are showing students that STEM is a viable career and that you can discover things that have never been discovered before.

"I see a lack of Indigenous voices at the table across the industry and I want to see more Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people involved.

"It is essential to have an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultural lens applied to Western Science, just like it is important to have others with diverse backgrounds and genders in senior positions in our workplaces.

"This breadth and depth of diversity is what is going to drive innovation."

Early Career Professional Award Winner Dean Foley is a Kamilaroi man and founder of Barayamal, an Indigenous owned and managed charity that assists Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander entrepreneurs through coding programs for young people, mentoring and workshops.

Dr Jenkins and Mr Foley will both receive $20,000 to support their work as Indigenous STEM Education ambassadors in 2018.

Wiluna Remote Community School won the School Award for their work with engaging with the Martu rangers and the Wiluna community to use traditional knowledge to teach science to students.

The school will receive $10,000 to contribute towards progressing inquiry-based learning within the school and incorporating local Indigenous knowledge that can be linked to the curriculum.

CSIRO Indigenous STEM Education Project Director, Therese Postma said it was important to celebrate the achievements of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in STEM as well as teachers and schools working in this space.

"All of our award winners inspire Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students," Ms Postma said.

"Wiluna Remote Community School is an outstanding example of an entire community coming together to teach students two-way science in Indigenous contexts.

"Educators Fifi Harris (STEM Champion Award) and Camila Zuniga-Greve (Teacher Award) demonstrate on a daily basis how Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students can be effectively engaged in science, technology, engineering and mathematics.

"We also have role models in our STEM Professional winners Dr Jenkins and Mr Foley who have forged amazing STEM careers as well as peer role models in our student winners Shailyn Isaac, Kayla Pattel, Jessica Storrar, Boyden George, Willow Wells, Angela Barely and Russell Sands."

BHP Billiton Foundation Chief Executive Officer James Ensor said celebrating the educational and career achievements of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people was critical to seeing more participation in STEM.

"The BHP Billiton Foundation is committed to improving educational opportunities and outcomes in science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) for under-represented groups including Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples," Mr Ensor said.

"Studying STEM topics fosters innovative thinking and problem solving abilities that will help to address sustainable development challenges."

Each of the winners will have a presentation in their home communities throughout April.

For more information visit the Indigenous STEM Awards.

Winners List

STEM Professional Career Achievement Award – Dr Misty Jenkins (Walter and Eliza Hall Institute, Melbourne)

STEM Professional Early Career Award – Dean Foley (Barayamal, Brisbane)

Tertiary/Undergraduate Student Award - Shailyn Isaac, University of Western Australia

Secondary Student Award - Kayla Pattel (Tullawong State High School, Caboolture) and Jessica Storrar (Gungahlin College, Canberra)

School Award – Wiluna Remote Community School (Western Australia)

Teacher Award - Camila Zuniga-Greve (Heatley State School, Townsville)

STEM Champion Award – Fifi Harris (Leonora District High School, Leonora)

The Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Student Science Award – Boyden George (Leonora District High School, Leonora) and Willow Wells (Thuringowa State High School, Townsville)

The Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Student Maths Award – Angela Barely (Innisfail State College, Innisfail) and Russell Sands (Innisfail State College, Innisfail)

Images

Winners of Indigenous STEM Awards. L-R Back row: Jessica Storrar, Camila Zuniga-Greve, Misty Jenkins. Front row: Kayla Pattel, Dean Foley, Shailyn Isaac. ©  KARL SCHWERDTFEGER
Camila Zuniga-Greve winner of the Teacher Award. ©  KARL SCHWERDTFEGER
Dean Foley winner of the STEM Professional Early Career Award. ©  KARL SCHWERDTFEGER
Dr Misty Jenkins winner of the STEM Professional Career Achievement Award. ©  KARL SCHWERDTFEGER
Jessica Storrar winner of the Secondary Student Award. ©  KARL SCHWERDTFEGER
Kayla Pattel winner of the Secondary Student Award. ©  KARL SCHWERDTFEGER
Shailyn Isaac winner of the Tertiary/Undergraduate Student Award. ©  KARL SCHWERDTFEGER

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