Antimicrobial Science Superstar smashing stereotypes

A young female Griffith University scientist is among 30 in the country recognised as the first Superstars of STEM.

Ready to smash stereotypes and forge a new generation of role models for young women and girls, the scientists and technolgists will receive training and development to use social media, TV, radio and public speaking opportunities to carve out a more diverse face for science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM).

Dr Róisín McMahon,an early career researcher at the Griffith Institute for Drug Discovery, was selected among more than 300 applicants who vied for a spot to be a Superstar andinspire others to consider a career in STEM.

Dr McMahon’s passion – outside sparkly shoes -is investigating new antimicrobial drug targets and identifying chemicals to block their activity. Antibiotic resistance is a looming health catastrophe, undermining routine medical procedures and increasing the risk posed by common infections. Her research seeks to disrupt the ability of bacteria to assemble the weapons that they need to cause disease.

“I am honoured and delighted to participate in the inaugural Superstars of STEM program as apublic advocate for science,” she said.

“It is a terrific opportunity. I feel privileged to work in STEM. As part of the Superstar program, I want to help demystify the path for others by challenging preconceptions about what a scientist looks like.

“Throughout my career it has been my mentors, frequently women, who have inspired me to develop and progress. Through the Superstars program I am excited to meet and work with other like-minded individuals to support, champion, and inspire women to pursue careers in STEM.”

Dr McMahon, who also worked at The University of Queensland’s Institute for Molecular Bioscience (2011-2016), and attended the University of Oxford where she was awarded a DPhil in 2010,has already taken on a leadership role in GRIDD as the equity and diversity champion.

Science & Technology Australia President-Elect, Professor Emma Johnston, said studies in the USA and other countries similar to Australia had shown female STEM professionals were significantly under-represented.

“Superstars of STEM is the first program of its kind and will prove vital for the future of STEM in Australia,” Professor Johnston said.

“Often when you ask someone to picture or draw a scientist, they will immediately think of an old man with white hair and a lab coat.

“We want Australian girls to realise that there are some amazing, capable and impressive women working as scientists and technologists too, and that they work in and out of the lab in places you might not expect.

“Science and technology have made our lives longer, happier, healthier and more connected — with more girls considering STEM careers, we have the potential to achieve so much more.”

The Superstars of STEM program will also include a mentoring component, designed to link participants with inspiring women in their sector who can provide insights into leadership in their field. Participants will also be required to share their stories at local High Schools to ensure they are connecting with young Australian women with an interest in STEM.

You can meet the candidates by heading to theSuperstars of STEMpage.