Spinifex and snakes: women in STEM applauded

29 Mar 2017

Two University of Queensland researchers have won the Queensland Women in STEM competition in recognition of their work paving the way for young women to enter science careers.

Queensland Minister for Innovation Science and the Digital Economy Leeanne Enoch said the Women in STEM (science, technology, engineering and maths) competition highlighted the dedication of Queensland’s women scientists and their contribution to inspiring, and engaging with, the community.

UQ’s Dr Nasim Amiralian won the Judge’s Choice Award, and Ms Jordan Debono won the People’s Choice Award.

Both women will receive $5000 prizemoney.

Dr Amiralian works at UQ’s Australian Institute for Bioengineering and Nanotechnology ;and is looking at ways of using spinifex grass nanofibres to create strong, durable, extra-thin latex for products such as surgical gloves and condoms.

Ms Debono’s research as a PhD student with UQ’s School of Biological Sciences is contributing to an understanding of the human blood system and its interactions with toxins, and could lead to new drugs to combat heart disease, stroke and diabetes.

The awards were presented at the World Science Festival on Sunday.

Ms Debono (left) said the field of snakes and snake venom research was male-dominated, but that had not hindered her in her work.

“If I was perhaps in another lab in another university, in another country, the opportunities and outcomes could have been vastly different.

“Times are changing, and the new generation coming through is made up of women like me – full of passion and drive.”

Dr Amiralian said she was grateful to work in an environment that encouraged young women scientists.

“My supervisor, Professor Darren Martin, is part of a very supportive environment here at the Australian Institute for Bioengineering and Nanotechnology and UQ, and that has really helped me to develop my career,” she said.

“My vision is to become a future research leader. Through my research and commercial endeavours, I aspire to make a difference in people's lives.”

Dr Amiralian and Ms Debono are available for media interviews.

Watch a video about Dr Amiralian’s work here.

Watch a video about Ms Debono’s work here, read her International Women’s Day 2017 blog post here, and listen to an ABC Radio interview with her here.

Contact: Dr Nasim Amiralian, +61 7 3346 3862, n.amiralian@uq.edu.au ; Ms Jordan Debono, jordan_debono@hotmail.com, 0412 791 516.