Four CNBP’ers attended ‘Science meets Parliament (SmP)’, a high profile political engagement STA event held in Canberra, 13-14th February, 2018.
The event gives science, technology, engineering and mathematics professionals the chance to build a profile for their important work in the Parliamentary environment. This includes meeting privately with politicians to discuss areas of research expertise, as well as unique professional development opportunities focused on clarifying competing rationalities of science, politics and public policy.
The four attendees were CNBP Chief Operating Officer Kathy Nicholson, CNBP PhD student Emma Wilson from RMIT University, CNBP researcher Dr Lindsay Parker (representing Macquarie University) and Dr Sanam Mustafa (The University of Adelaide and a Superstar of STEM, Afternoon Chair on Day One of the event).
Feedback from all representatives was extremely positive with all gaining from their SmP experience.
Emma Wilson met with Western Australian Senator Slade Brockman for her Parliamentarian meeting.
“I told him about my work exploring fluorescent nanodiamonds so we can develop them as tiny light beacons to see what is happening inside our cells,” she said.
“I explained that the CNBP has created an environment where I can explore the fundamentals of the material with an application in mind.”
A major highlight for Emma was getting to meet some of her STEM heroes.
“I had a chat with Australian of the Year Professor Michelle Simmons,” she said.
“We discussed gender balance and equity and the importance of having quality mentorship for creating better scientists. We also discussed the inflexibility of institutes when it comes to accommodating people, both men and women, with carer roles.”
CNBP’s Dr Lindsay Parker was enthusiastic about the SmP event too.
“I met with MP Karen Andrews, who has been a member of the House of Representatives since 2010, representing the Division of McPherson in Queensland,” she said.
“Karen is the Assistant Minister for Vocational Education and Skills and also a co-chair of The Parliamentary Friends of Science. I explained to her how small the nanoscale is relative to things such as human hair and bacteria. I also mentioned some of the materials we work with in the Centre such as nanodiamonds, how they are fluorescent and why they are excellent nanoprobes for use in neuro-imaging.”
Lindsay continued, “I sat next to MP Craig Kelly at the Gala dinner – he’s in the House of Representatives for Hughes, New South Wales. I spoke to him about my neuroscience research and how hopefully one day we can better engineer anti-inflammatory drugs to target the correct cells with less side effects during chronic pain and Alzheimer’s. I mentioned how CNBP is an excellent multidisciplinary Centre linking biology, chemistry and physics. He asked questions about how the drugs work and when they would be ready for use in humans.”
Lindsay summed up, “All of the politicians, CEOs and organisation heads at SmP clearly recognised the need to continue to promote and improve opportunities for women in STEM industries. Senator Michaelia Cash gave a particularly inspirational and enthusiastic speech about this at the Gala dinner and I was impressed that both she and my matched MP Karen Andrews were genuinely interested in science research and improving STEM promotion as a great career in Australia.”