NYSF participants were wowed with Professor Harvey-Smith’s passion, and the practical tips she shared, as they explored her discovery of astronomy at 15 years of age all the way through her career to her current role as Australian Government Women in STEM Ambassador.
“YAY Astro!” and a fist pump is how Professor Lisa Harvey-Smith launched into her presentation to the 2021 NYSF Year 12 Program participants.
297 participants from across Australia logged onto Zoom on Wednesday evening to hear from the phenomenal Professor Lisa Harvey-Smith. NYSF participants were wowed with Professor Harvey-Smith’s passion, and the practical tips she shared, as they explored her discovery of astronomy at 15 years of age all the way through her career to her current role as Australian Government Women in STEM Ambassador.
Students were inspired by personal stories of studying the births and deaths of stars, world travel and having a pivotal role in Australia’s bid for the world’s largest radio telescope (the Square Kilometre Array now located in Western Australia). The Zoom chat was buzzing with questions, comments and discussion.
Her presentation was peppered with photos of astronomical delights, uni life and her unconventional offices comprising radio telescopes across the globe. She touched on career highlights, gave us a glimpse into STEM research and a masterclass on radio astronomy.
Professor Harvey-Smith stated, “we know the universe is 96% dark matter and dark energy, but we don’t know what this is”. “It is unknowable now, but not unknowable forever”. Confirming how much more there still is to discover about the world and universe around us and how important STEM research is.
She invited students to keep their minds open. Expressing that she when it comes to your future "fall in love with the subject", but leave yourself open and space for plans to change and evolve. Lisa Harvey-Smith went into radio over optical astronomy based on opportunity and luck. Telling us that her foray into radio astronomy was "a bit of luck, a bit of fortune". An important point and especially poignant as STEM graduates are in high demand and research suggests that 40% of today’s jobs in Australia will be replaced with new industries in 10 to 15 years. An open mind and flexibility are key.
NYSF Year 12 participant comments ranged from being "star struck!" to "your advice has been the most honest and best so far".
This dynamic session was certainly a hit and opened the eyes of all those who attended. It left participants inspired, impassioned and excited for the future with some even reconsidering the STEM area they might choose to study.
Professor Harvey-Smith left with closing remarks of how much she loves what she does and that connecting with groups like NYSF was “her oxygen”. She was thrilled with the excitement and engagement of the group.
Congratulations to Angie, Lakshana, Siobhan, Luzie and Emma who won a signed copy of Professor Harvey-Smith’s book “When Galaxies Collide” or "The Secret Life of Stars" after being nominated for asking the best questions of the session by their peers.
Thank you to Professor Lisa Harvey-Smith for her time and UNSW Science (NYSF Partner) for supporting this session.