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“Never pick the easy option.”

The ACT’s Scientist of the Year for 2016, Dr Ceridwen Fraser, spoke to the NYSF 2017 Session A participants this week.

Dr Fraser is a senior lecturer and researcher at the Fenner School of Environment and Society at the ANU. Her broad interests lie in the influence of environmental conditions, including past and future environmental change, on global patterns of biodiversity.

Dr Fraser has completed two undergraduate degrees at various institutions around Australia. After several years of undergraduate study she says she was hesitant to jump straight into a PhD program because she was also interested in travelling. “Fortune favours travellers,” Dr Fraser told the NYSF students.

She told the students that this was when she discovered biogeography, which has allowed her to travel while conducting amazing research into the intricate relationships between life and land. After completing her PhD at the University of Otago in New Zealand, Dr Fraser set her sights on researching how biological dispersal drives evolution.

Dr Fraser emphasised the distinction between beliefs and evidence based knowledge, telling the students to use and develop their critical thinking skills. She also acknowledged the difficulties associated with pursuing a STEM degree and left the Session A cohort with some pertinent advice, "Never pick the easy option."

Find out more about Dr Fraser’s research here.

About the ACT Scientist of the Year Award

The ACT Scientist of the Year Award celebrates excellence in scientific research and innovation in the ACT. The winner also receives a $30,000 prize to support their future research endeavours.

The Award is a demonstration of the ACT Government’s commitment to growing science understanding and engagement in our community. It is a fantastic opportunity to promote science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) in the ACT, as well as showcasing the contributions our local scientists are making both nationally and internationally to this very important global brain trust.

By Daniel Lawson, NYSF 2017 Session A Communications Intern and NYSF 2015 Alumnus.