4th AINSE Women in STEM and Entrepreneurship School

In the first week of December 2020, 57 students from 27 universities across Australia and New Zealand connected online with a host of remarkable STEM leaders at the fourth annual AINSE Women in STEM and Entrepreneurship (WISE) School.

AINSE received funding support from ANSTO and the Office of the NSW Chief Scientist & Engineer to host the online 2020 WISE School, which focuses on Women in STEM and their career opportunities in STEM generally, and within nuclear science and engineering in particular.

The 2020 WISE cohort met online, from homes all across Australia and New Zealand, to spend three days engaging with a diverse group of role-model scientists, engineers and distinguished guests, participating in panel discussions with the 2019 WISE students and representatives from the nandin Innovation Centre, and networking with their new mentors from ANSTO and AINSE. Students were also taken on a virtual tour of ANSTO’s landmark research facilities by the ANSTO Discovery Centre, presenting them with a behind-the-scenes look at the OPAL Multipurpose Reactor, Australian Synchrotron, Australian Centre for Neutron Scattering, and Centre for Accelerator Science.

Keynote speaker Kylie Walker addressing the 2020 WISE cohort

The School opened on December 1 with a unique Acknowledgement of Country by ANSTO’s Brett Rowling who, alongside AINSE Managing Director Michelle Durant, shared a brief overview of over 60,000 years of research in Australia and on the lands that now host ANSTO’s three campuses. Michelle Durant then formally opened the School, speaking briefly about her career experiences and sharing an overview of AINSE and the invaluable opportunities it provides to postgraduate students and early-career researchers.

Throughout the WISE School, a diverse group of guest speakers shared personal stories and lessons learned on their own career paths from first-year undergraduates to recognised leaders in STEM and Entrepreneurship, providing students with invaluable insights into overcoming a diverse range of personal and academic challenges that can occur on the path to success.  Keynote speakers included Kylie Walker, Chief Executive Officer of the Australian Academy of Technology and Engineering, Prof. Tanya Monro, Australia’s Chief Defence Scientist, and Prof. Brian P. Schmidt, Australia’s Nobel Laureate and Vice Chancellor and President of the Australian National University.

Keynote speaker Prof. Tanya Monro addressing the 2020 WISE cohort

Other outstanding speakers who shared their personal stories with the 2020 WISE students included:

  • Lt Col. Jasmin Diab, President of Women in Nuclear Australia Chapter and Co-founder of the Defence Entrepreneurs Forum Australia;
  • Dr. Liz Allen, Demographer at the Centre for Social Research & Methods, ANU
  • Laureate Prof. Veena Sahajwalla, Founding Director of the Centre for Sustainable Materials Research & Technology, UNSW
  • A/Prof. Sophie Primig, ARC DECRA Fellow in the School of Materials Science & Engineering, UNSW;
  • Dr. Katie Sizeland, Strategic Projects Leader, ANSTO NSTLI;
  • Katrina Van de Ven, Government and International Affairs Advisor, ANSTO;
  • Prof. Anna Paradowska, Industry Engagement Manager at the Australian Centre for Neutron Scattering, ANSTO
  • Gina Pearse, STEM Outreach Coordinator at Curtin University;
  • Lisa Stojanovski, Science Communicator;
  • Dr. Anna Lintern, Lecturer in the Department of Civil Engineering at Monash University; and
  • Dr. James Christian, Research Scientist at CAP-XX Ltd.

In addition, students were able to engage with a panel of representatives from ANSTO’s nandin Innovation Centre to receive excellent entrepreneurial advice from experts Prof. Tim Boyle, Founder and Executive of nandin, ShanShan Wang, CEO and Industrial Designer at Roam Technologies, and Jay Flack, Founder and CEO of Hyron Scientific.

On the final day, students connected with their mentors from AINSE and ANSTO in an online networking event and discussion forum that launched the year-long WISE Mentorship Program. Students will continue to receive guidance and support from their mentors throughout 2021 through a number of online videoconferencing sessions interspersed with a series of regular online discussion topics.

Keynote speaker Prof. Brian Schmidt addressing the 2020 WISE cohort, with AINSE and ANSTO mentors also in attendance.

The WISE Mentorship Program is the cornerstone of the AINSE WISE School, allowing the next generation of Women in STEM to connect with established leaders at ANSTO and AINSE, and with past WISE alumni. AINSE are grateful to the 37 staff members who generously volunteer their time to mentor the WISE students and share their expertise regarding STEM career opportunities, and strategies to overcome the challenges that may be encountered on the road from undergraduate studies to an established STEM or entrepreneurial career.

AINSE would also like to extend our gratitude to all our guest speakers for their key efforts in making the 2020 WISE School a success, and thank both ANSTO and the Office of the NSW Chief Scientist & Engineer for their funding support. We look forward to hearing from our 2020 WISE students as their own career journeys continue.