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STEM Talent on tap for STEM Explorer groups - feature image, used as a supportive image and isn't important to understand article

"Dr Hall was a very inspiring man and not only me, but the rest of my group learnt a lot from him. We are truly thankful to have met him.”

South Australia’s abundance of talented scientists were highlighted during the National Youth Science Forums’ (NYSF) recent STEM Explorer Program.

STEM Explorer, a pilot program held in collaboration with the South Australian Department of Education and Child Development (DECD) for year seven and eight students was designed to pique students’ interest in science and encourage them to pursue STEM subjects in later schooling years.

The 89 students were divided into 10 groups which were named after accomplished South Australian Scientists. The STEM Groups were Cooper, Gillanders, Hall, Monro, Possingham, Read, Reynolds, Tao, Thomas and Varghese.

During the week-long program some groups were even lucky enough to meet the scientist their group was named after.

STEM Talent on tap for STEM Explorer groups - content image

South Australia's Chief Scientist Dr Leanna Read talks to students in the Read Group during the STEM Explorer Program

STEM Explorer participant Natasha from the Read group met SA Chief Scientist, Dr Leanna Read, during a visit to the South Australian Museum.

“It was amazing to meet Leanna Read at the museum.  She was so nice to have a chat with her.”

The Monro group was also fortunate to spend some time with their name-sake during hands-on workshops at Mylor Adventure Camp.  Monro group member, Brooklyn said meeting Professor Monro was a great experience.

“It was such a privilege to meet our team “Monro” ambassador because she is a great role model for students and adults.”

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Professor Tanya Monro spends time with students during workshops at Mylor Adventure Camp.

Students from the “Hall” group were even luckier when physicist Dr Colin Hall, facilitated their lab visit at the University of South Australia (uniSA).

Port Lincoln High School student, Charlotte was in the Hall group.

“We toured three labs and had a quick chat about what was manufactured in each lab and how much money was invested in each one of them.  Dr Hall was a very inspiring man and not only me, but the rest of my group learnt a lot from him.  We are truly thankful to have met him.”

Wondering about the scientists?  Here a little insight into this very talented group.

Cooper - Professor Alan Cooper was the 2016 South Australian Scientist of the Year for his research in ancient DNA.  Professor Cooper is founder and Director of the Australian Centre for Ancient DNA at the University of Adelaide.

Gillanders -  Professor Bronwyn Gillanders is the Deputy Director of The Environment Institute at the University of Adelaide.  Professor Gillanders is a marine scientist whose research spans freshwater, estuarine and marine waters while focusing on fish and fisheries ecology.

Hall - Dr Colin Hall is a Senior Research Fellow at the Future Industries Institute (University of South Australia). Dr Hall is interested in helping Australian manufacturing be globally competitive through the uptake of innovative research. He is a physicist by background and a named inventor on five patents.

Monro - Professor Tanya Monro, Deputy Vice-Chancellor Research and Innovation and ARC Georgina Sweet Laureate Fellow at the University of South Australia.  Her research is in the field of photonics, with a focus on sensing, lasers and new classes of optical fibres. Professor Monro is also the NYSF’s Science Patron.

Possingham -  Adelaide born, Professor Hugh Possingham is a Chief Scientist at the Nature Conservancy based in Washington DC and Brisbane, Australia.  He is a Professor of mathematics and ecology with research interests in conservation, operations and ecology.  Professor Possingham’s goal is to save as much biodiversity as possible.

Read -  Named after South Australia’s Chief Scientist, Dr Leanna Read.  As the Chief Scientist Dr Read provides leadership in developing strategies to enhance the contribution of science, technology, research and innovation to the State’s development. Dr Read is a trained physiologist and a biotechnology expert.

Reynolds - Professor Karen Reynolds, is a highly awarded bio-medical engineer.   She is the Deputy Dean of Computer Science, Engineering and Mathematics at Flinders University. In addition to her teaching and research roles, Professor Reynolds is the Director of the Medical Device Research Institute and founding Director of the Medical Device Partnering Program in South Australia, an organisation that assists in the development of cutting-edge medical devices that solve real end-user problems.

Tao - Terence Tao is a mathematician born in Adelaide.  Tao won the Fields Medal in 2006.  The Fields Medal is a prize awarded to two to four mathematicians under 40 years of age and is often described as the mathematician’s “Nobel Prize”.  Professor Tao is currently working at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA).

Thomas -  Named after Australia’s first astronaut, Dr Andrew Thomas.  South Australian born Thomas was a NASA astronaut for 23 years and participated in four space shuttle flights. Dr Thomas received a Bachelor of Engineering Degree in Mechanical Engineering, with First Class Honours, from the University of Adelaide, South Australia, and a Doctorate in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Adelaide, South Australia.

Varghese - Mathai Varghese is an Elder Professor of Mathematics within the School of Mathematical Sciences at the University of Adelaide, an Australian Laureate Fellow as well as an Adjunct Professor of Mathematics within the Mathematical Sciences Institute at the Australian National University.