Kirsty Wright is a senior lecturer in Forensic Biology at Griffith University and an internationally renowned DNA profiling expert who can be called upon to help identify victims of war or disaster anywhere in the world.
She is also a finalist in this year’s 100 Women of Influence Awards staged by The Australian Financial Review and Westpac Group.
Importance of role models
Kirsty said she is flattered to be counted among influential Australian women who are making an impact and helping break down stereotypes.
“I think it is important for younger women to have role models who motivate them to challenge themselves in the name of public service and innovation at a national and international level,” Kirsty said.
“I had such a role model when I was studying at Griffith University and she strongly influenced my career path and made me realise women can have a significant impact in our society and establish themselves as international leaders.
“Through this nomination I hope to raise awareness of the disaster work performed by police and forensic scientists across Australia. These are a group of extremely dedicated and hard working professionals who provide a humanitarian service in some of the most extreme conditions imaginable, to assist victims regain their identity and be returned to their loved ones for a final farewell.”
The 100 finalists were drawn from more than 500 prominent nominees from every state and territory of Australia, as well as overseas. They represent excellence in economics, business and the arts, the public sector and non-profit organisations, philanthropy and academia.
Judging was based on a range of criteria, including a nominee’s personal and career achievements, as well as their contribution and mentoring of other women.
There are 10 categories: board/management, innovation, public policy, business entrepreneur, diversity, young leader, global, social enterprise or not-for-profit, philanthropy and local/regional.
Kirsty is a finalist in the global category.
Kirsty brought her expertise to the 2002 Bali Bombings forensic operation and in 2005 was DNA Team Leader for the International Disaster Victim Identification effort at the Thai Tsunami Victim Identification Centre in Phuket.
Also holding the rank of Flight Lieutenant with the Royal Australian Air Force, Kirsty is part of a forensic fly-way team which is called in whenever there is a major incident involving serving Defence personnel. She also lends her skills to the Unrecovered War Casualties-Army Unit, identifying and bringing home the remains of fallen from WW1, WW2 and the Korea war.
Kirsty has assisted Interpol with the development of identification software to be used for mass disasters and missing persons around the world.
Back home here at Griffith, Kirsty lectures undergraduate students as well as convening the Master of Forensic Science degree which is currently offered only to serving members of the Queensland Police Service.
This year’s 100 Women of Influence Awards judging panel was co-chaired by Narelle Hooper and Catherine Fox, both former journalists with The Australian Financial Review. It seems the panel had a challenging time deciding between the nominees.
“All of them were making a strong contribution through their work as role models who are transforming attitudes and shattering stereotypes,” Catherine Fox said.
The winner of each of the ten categories, as well as the overall 2013 Woman of Influence, will be announced at gala dinner in Sydney on October 17.
Griffith offers a Bachelor of Forensic Science degree and a Double degree; Bachelor of Forensic Science and Criminology/Criminal Justice.