Celebrating International Women's Day 2019

Celebrating International Women's Day 2019

Celebrating International Women's Day 2019

In the lead up to International Women's Day on March 8, we'll be profiling the inspirational women who are trailblazing in the department!

Associate Professor Kira Westaway

I am interested in when humans made the epic journey of dispersal across the globe, who we encountered, what shaped our evolution, and why we were so successful when many other species failed.

Research into human evolution gives me an exploration 'National Geographic' feeling combined with a discovery of the unknown 'Eureka' moment all wrapped up in small dirty confined spaces - it really is dirty, sweaty, dangerous challenging unpredictable science but I wouldn't have it any other way!


Victoria Graham (HDR Student)

I’m a PhD candidate in Environmental Sciences researching the linkages between management arrangements and the performance of protected areas in Southeast Asia. I’m interested in evaluating the efficiency of land management practices and policies, using quantitative and spatial analysis. I’ve worked on projects comparing the cost-effectiveness of strategies for minimising forest carbon emissions in Southeast Asia as well as assessing the adequacy of protected areas for capturing biodiversity under climate change. I also work part-time in the Biodiversity Node of the NSW Adaptation Research Hub.

I love hearing about the range of research projects that people across the faculty work on. It’s so diverse! There are all kinds of niches to explore. Outside of my day-to-day work, I’ve got a special interest in frogs. This takes me to rugged and remote places at night, all in the name of finding a new frog! Working in a space that provides an opportunity to initiate real-world change is what inspires me the most and is the reason why I love what I do.


Dr Emilie Ens

I conduct cross-cultural ecological research with my Aboriginal colleagues and students to enhance our understanding of and management solutions for environmental challenges using Indigenous and Western scientific approaches. Our research is collaborative and has been described as co-created Citizen Science. I have worked in Arnhem Land with Aboriginal ranger groups for 11 years and over the last few years with other Aboriginal groups in NSW, Victoria and Qld. We do research on biodiversity, re-tracing Aboriginal plant dispersal, invasive species, wetlands, cultural fire and work with Aboriginal school groups to inspire the next generation of cross-cultural ecologists and environmental managers. I also teach Environmental Management at Macquarie University.

I love being out bush observing change and coming up with innovative solutions with my Aboriginal colleagues to keep out environments healthy.


Marcelle Lock (HDR Student)

I’m working on nature conservation policy requirements and how these requirements can be met using Remote Sensing enabled Essential Biodiversity Variables (RS-enabled EBVs). Most nations have national policies to protect the natural environment and also report to international biodiversity treaties. As it is virtually impossible to monitor everything regarding biodiversity, policies make use of indicators that signal the state of the natural environment and biodiversity. In situ data is often used to feed into indicators, but remote sensing data (such as satellite imagery) has the potential to be useful for this purpose as well. Essential Biodiversity Variables have been and are being developed by scientists working for GEO-BON (Group on Earth Observations Biodiversity Observation Network). The challenge is to come up with variables that can be used for indicators, are practical and meaningful for policy reporting and make sense to a larger audience.

What I like best about science is that unexpected things can happen. For example, you might get different results than expected. Unravelling why, learning from that and seeing things in a different light is a very interesting process.


Kara Fry (3rd-Year Student)

I am in my third year studying Environmental Management. My degree has provided me with hands-on experiences in many cool places, my favourite being Namibia. I am also the lab technician for MQ's VegeSafe program, which allows me to put my degree skills into practice and help people Australia wide to combat contamination in their gardens.

I love how science enables us to investigate real-world problems and develop solutions that can have widespread benefits. I also love how a career in science means you will always be learning, travelling and getting your hands dirty


Professor Kirstie Fryirs

I am a fluvial geomorphologist, meaning I study river forms, processes, evolution and management. I am passionate about conservation and rehabilitation of river systems in many different landscapes.

My favourite part about being a scientist is understanding how things work. In my case, this means understanding how rivers work! The most inspiring part of my job is to see the difference our research can make on-the-ground in terms of improving river condition and river management practice. I also enjoy seeing students reach their full potential and develop fulfilling careers in environmental sciences and management. And, I get to visit some amazing places to play with dirt and water!


Nicole Cormier (HDR Student)

My research focuses on wetland vulnerability and studying the impacts of human alteration and environmental change on mangroves and saltmarshes. We study the processes that contribute to the health, or productivity, of a system including measuring the change in surface elevation of a wetland relative to local rates of sea-level rise and the efficacy of restoration efforts.

My favourite part of science is working in the field collecting data in my outdoor "office" and knowing that the work we do will inform science and management and have a positive impact on the people and places where we conduct research.


Xiaoteng Zhou (HDR Student)

I am a PhD candidate investigating the use of bees, honey and wax as bio-indicators to evaluate contamination caused by heavy metals in the environment. I also investigated the quality of Australian and global honey and explored a method to authenticate the geographic origins of honey. Results of my study were of significant interest to the general public with my recent honey research being presented on ABC 7:30 and covered in 20 news articles including Sydney Morning Herald, The Age, ABC News and The Conversation.

The magic of science is that you never know what you will find and any findings will give you a sense of achievement and satisfaction which will allure you to discover more.


Kellie Cook (HDR Student)

I study hailstorms and severe weather to help predict future severe hailstorm events. Science is a great field to work in because there is always something new to learn, and being able to move from the desk to the field keeps things exciting.


Dr Kerrie Tomkins

I work in geomorphology and environmental management. More recently I’ve become interested in the transport of micro-plastics in rivers. I’m a teaching fellow so I teach in a lot of units that Environmental Sciences offers:  ENV267, ENVS362, ENVS803, ENVS898, ENVS807. I convene all but ENVS362.

The favourite part of science for me is seeing how important science is to society. For example, science is playing a key role in addressing current and emerging environmental problems.


Ruby Ardren (HDR Student)

I work for Northern Beaches Council and deal with stormwater strategy, water quality and waterway health (fresh water). I occasionally dabble in estuarine and marine water quality. In particular, I deal with major development and land release, from the strategic planning phase through to reviewing development applications and achieving best practice in operation and maintenance of stormwater assets. It's amazing to have a job that allows you to combine office work with fieldwork.

I always seek to understand why things happen and how things work - I'm a problem solver. I love science because it allows you to understand what is happening beneath the surface of an issue, allowing you to respond in an appropriate and useful way.

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