Leadership in a Time of Change

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Presented by the Parliament Victoria in partnership with the Royal Society of Victoria for the Inspiring Victoria program.

Join us for a special, future-focussed panel discussion, broadcast from the Parliament of Victoria, to mark the International Day of Women and Girls in Science.

This event will convene four remarkable women leaders in the fields of science, technology, engineering, mathematics, and medicine (STEMM) to discuss Leadership in a Time of Change. The discussion will address the cultural and structural barriers to the advancement of women in Australia’s STEMM workforce, and the increasingly dynamic nature of leadership in a world that is changing rapidly in many ways.

Having just returned from a warming Antarctica as part of the acclaimed Homeward Bound program, our speakers bring fresh insights to the pivotal role leadership plays in navigating the unknown and the uncertain, both in the scientific realm and beyond.

The discussion will be hosted by ABC Science journalist and presenter Natasha Mitchell with the support of Speaker of the Legislative Assembly, The Hon. Maree Edwards MP. We invite you to join us online via Facebook Live at facebook.com/VicParliament to hear from these STEMM leaders.

About the Speakers

Associate Professor Vanessa Wong is a soil scientist in the School of Earth, Atmosphere and Environment at Monash University. She is passionate about studying the world beneath our feet. Her research focuses on dynamic soil ecosystems in natural, wetland and agricultural environments, seeking to understand how environmental change, land use and land management, affects biogeochemical cycling below ground.

Vanessa is currently a member of Science and Technology Australia’s Policy Committee, the former Chair of the Australian Academy of Science, Early Mid-Career Researcher Forum, and immediate past President of Soil Science Australia. She has been Science Facilitator for the past two and current HB cohorts.

Associate Professor Jen Martin founded, leads, and teaches the University of Melbourne’s acclaimed Science Communication Teaching Program. She spent many years working as a field ecologist, until she decided the most useful thing she could contribute as a scientist was to teach other scientists how to be effective and engaging communicators. She is deeply committed to helping scientists develop the skills they need to be visible, make connections, and have impact.

Jen also practises what she preaches: she’s been talking about science weekly on radio for more than 18 years, hosts podcasts (including @letstalkscicomm), MCs events, writes for a variety of publications, and was named the 2019 Unsung Hero of Australian Science Communication.

Jen’s first popular science book, ‘Why am I like this? The science behind your weirdest thoughts and habits’ was published this year. Jen is a member of the Visibility Faculty for HB and was part of the onboard Faculty in 2019 and 2023.

Dr Catherine Lopes is a Non-Executive Director on the Governing Board of the Environmental Protection Authority (EPA) Victoria in Australia. With over 25 years of professional experience, she was the first Chief Data and Analytics Officer at Merkle ANZ, the Head of Enterprise Data and Analytics at AGL Energy, and the Head of Data Strategy and Analytics at ME Bank, ANZ Bank.

Additionally, Catherine’s passion for empowering women in Analytics, Data science, and AI (ADA) led her to establish ADA’s Tribe, an inclusive community that aims to uplift and support women in these fields.

She also contributes her expertise by serving on multiple university advisory boards at Australian National University and Monash University. Catherine was an invited participant on the recent Homeward Bound (HB) Women in STEMM leadership program Antarctic voyages in 2023.

Ms Fern Hames PSM FRSV is the former Director of the Arthur Rylah Institute for Environmental Research (ARI) in Victoria. She is deeply committed to effective, inclusive leadership and participated in the first HB expedition in 2016.

Since then, she has become a member of the HB Visibility Faculty and was part of the HB onboard Faculty in 2019 and 2023. Fern has a research background in Antarctic algae and freshwater fish, but in recent years has been exploring multi- and transdisciplinary research and ways of knowing, and the wider dimensions of socio-cultural-ecosystems.

She has extensive experience in engagement, environmental education, and citizen science, from Australia’s wild deserts and Wet Tropics to India, and is passionate about connecting people with nature. Fern has volunteered in Australia, Tanzania, Myanmar, and Pakistan, and was a founding member of the Jane Goodall Institute Australia and was appointed a Fellow of the Royal Society of Victoria in 2022 in recognition of her achievements.