In 2019, the inaugural Australian LGBT STEM Day Symposium, organised by QueersInScience, was a resounding success. LGBTQ+ STEM Day was started by the UK-based group Pride In STEM and is an international day of celebration for LGBTQIA+ people working in STEMM fields.

This year went online and brought the rainbow – we showcased the brilliant work being done by leading LGBTQIA+ professionals from across the entire STEMM sector. Engineers, biologists, mathematicians, chemists, geologists, medical scientists… there was something for everyone! Thank you for joining us in celebrating the contributions that our queer community are making in STEMM to help improve our world.

Science on a Serviette

View the entries for Science on a Serviette, our science communication competition organised in partnership with Science Gallery Melbourne

Visit: Science on a Serviette chev

Scott Johnson Memorial Award

Learn more and nominate a person or organisation for 2020

Visit: Scott Johnson Memorial Award chev

Speakers

Associate Professor Christopher Lawrence

Pronouns: he/him

Associate Professor Christopher Lawrence is an Aboriginal health and wellbeing researcher. He has a background in education and postgraduate research degrees with a Masters of Applied Epidemiology and a PhD in Indigenous health and lifestyle choices. A/Professor Lawrence has been a Chief Investigator on many research grants including an NHMRC Tripartite study exploring Indigenous Resilience in Australia, Canada and New Zealand. He was also the 2008-2009 Australian-American Fulbright Indigenous Scholarship recipient and studied at Harvard University. In 2016 A/Professor Lawrence was awarded an Australian Research Council grant to explore how technology can help close the gap. A/Professor Lawrence is now the Director for Indigenous Engagement in the Faculty of Engineering & Information Technology at the University of Technology Sydney.

Professor Celine Boehm

Pronouns: she/her

An astroparticle physicist who studies both cosmology/astrophysics and particle physics, Professor Boehm has worked around the world, most recently as Chair of Physics at the Institute for Particle Physics Phenomenology at Durham University, in the UK. She previously held academic positions in physics at the Laboratoire d’Annecy-le-Vieux de Physique Théorique in France, CERN in Switzerland, and Oxford University in the UK. Professor Boehm completed her PhD in Theoretical Physics at the Ecole Normale Supérieure Paris in France and her Master of Science at both Ecole Normale Supérieure and the University of Pierre and Marie Curie in Paris. In parallel, she completed a Master of Science in Engineering at the Ecole Polytechnique Féminine in France. In recognition of her significant contributions to physics and demonstrated impact in her field, Professor Boehm was elected as a Fellow of the Institute of Physics in the UK in 2015. Joining the University of Sydney in January 2018, Professor Céline Boehm is only the second woman to be Head of School for Physics in the school’s history.

Dr Mohammad Taha

Pronouns: they/them

Dr Mohammad Taha is the co-chair of the Victorian chapter of Queers in Science, a researcher at the Melbourne School of Engineering and a non-binary queer person of colour. In 2019, Dr Taha was recognised as one of the top innovative engineers in Australia for their work in novel phase-changing materials and their role in smart-surfaces and the future of climate control. Dr Taha is an enthusiastic reader, writer, soon to be film maker and an advocate for the queer rights generally and people of colour specifically.

Professor Ben Burton

Pronouns: he/him

Professor Ben Burton is a mathematician at The University of Queensland, where he teaches supercomputers how to untangle knots. He is also passionate about bringing mathematics to schools and to the public, and has worked behind the scenes for many years with programmes such as the International Olympiad in Informatics and the National Mathematics Summer School. Ben believes it is crucial for young LGBTQIA+ students and researchers in STEM to know they are welcome and to see themselves reflected though role models at all career levels, and he aims to make the best use of the opportunities that he has to increase visibility and advocate for LGBTQIA+ people.

Em Dale

Pronouns: they/them

Em has a deep passion for diverse ecological systems, and using emerging technology to understand and protect ecosystems. Em has a Bachelor of Science in Ecology and Conservation with Honours and a University Medal from Griffith University. After working with endangered Red Pandas in Nepal, Em founded the Red Panda Trust, a conservation venture designed to empower conservation through research. Em then worked as an ecologist and conservation support officer for the Zoological Society of London in Mongolia where they worked on range of projects, including training wildlife detector dogs as a tool against the Illegal Wildlife Trade. At Oxford they will study biological interactions between species (rodents in the UK; and Tasmanian Devils in Australia) using novel mathematical modelling and novel RFID technology. Em plans to return to Australia to lead research initiatives to protect Australia’s carnivores, including the Tasmanian Devil and Eastern Quolls. These native Australian animals play a vital role in Australia’s food chains and their extinction would unbalance supporting populations with serious implications for Australian ecology. Em is a vocal advocate for equality and diversity in STEM. Being trans and queer they have organised many events (including the Oxford Zoology Departments First LGBTQI+ socieity) to promote gender diversity and inclusion within workspaces, as well as supporting other minorities through empowering seminars and visiting academic talks. They are also invested in decolonising ecological teaching and practice through education on land management across Australia.

Dr Prok Vasilyev

Pronouns: he/him

Dr Prok Vasilyev is an experimental petrologist and mineralogist with cross-functional expertise in analytical geochemistry and renewable energy storage solutions. He completed his BSc and MSc at Moscow State University and a PhD at Australian National University in 2016. Currently, he is a postdoc at JdLC, Curtin University, where he delivers a portfolio of research projects for ARC and industry partners. Prok is passionate about the climate change topic and uses his skills and knowledge to battle this issue as the project lead for a newly founded Future Battery Industries CRC.

His journey as an LGBTQI member was challenging but worthwhile. The lack of tolerance in his home country is offset by a loving and accepting circle of friends and colleagues. As an avid rock climber, Prok with friends started an LGBTQI rock climbing club “Rock Wallabies”, which has been growing in numbers since its foundation last year.

Dr Sarah Gordon

Pronouns: she/her

Dr Sarah Gordon is head of the Presynaptic Physiology laboratory at the Florey Institute of Neuroscience and Mental Health, where her team work to unravel the molecular machinery that governs neuronal communication. How do these molecules work together to modulate neurotransmission? What happens when this machinery malfunctions? And how can we correct this? Her group work on a range of neurological disorders caused by altered neurotransmission, including Parkinson’s Disease, epilepsy, autism spectrum disorder and neurodevelopmental disorders such as Baker-Gordon Syndrome, which her team helped to characterise.

Dr Luke Weinel

Pronouns: he/him

Dr Luke Weinel is the senior coordinator for the Eye Bank of South Australia and Deputy-Chair of the Eye Bank Association of Australia and New Zealand. Holding professional qualifications in medical-science and statistics Luke is directly engaged in donor corneal tissue recovery and local and national allocation of corneas to meet transplant and research demand across Australia.