ASCEPT awardees attend SMP2024

ASCEPT awardees attend SMP2024

In this article ASCEPT’s 2023 awardees, Alice Terrill – Garth McQueen Oral Prize, and Maria Jelinic – Bellberry Young Investigator Award, share their experiences from Science Meets Parliament (SMP) 2024. Pictured above from left to right: Alice Terrill, Bridin Murnion (ASCEPT President) and Maria Jelinic outside Parliament House in Canberra.                                                            

Maria Jelinic – Bellberry Young Investigator Award winner 2023

“This year’s Science Meets Parliament (SMP24) was bigger than ever. The program ran over two days and featured over 15 sessions with 55 speakers, including: eminent scientists, Parliamentarians, First Nations leaders and leading science communicators. The sessions covered a broad range of topics, each aimed at helping forge deeper connections with scientists and policymakers.

Highlights for me included the sessions that provided new insights into communicating science effectively to the media and to policymakers. I learned how to communicate my research in an effective style that is impactful to non-scientific audiences. There were also sessions that focused on elevating and investing in First Nations Knowledge. We heard directly from First Nations leaders and scientists in these sessions. Hearing their stories first-hand provided me with new perspectives and a better appreciation for incorporating First Nations Knowledge into current research.

Another special moment for me was meeting Victorian Senator, Dr Jess Walsh. I had the opportunity to discuss my research and to talk about some of the challenges of juggling being a single mother and emerging scientist. We also discussed the NHMRC’s recent changes to achieve gender equity in funding – it was clear that Senator Walsh really cared about supporting women in STEM.

SMP24 also gave me the opportunity to connect with a broad range of scientists that are outside of my field of research. This included experts in the fields of artificial intelligence, marine conservation and agriculture. It was eye-opening and made me reconsider what the term “multi-disciplinary research” really means! I am so grateful to ASCEPT for providing me with this amazing opportunity. Science Meets Parliament has been an event I have wanted to attend for years, and with ASCEPT’s support I was finally able to make it a reality. The event provided me with so much new knowledge and so many new connections.”

Alice Terrill – Garth McQueen Oral Prize winner 2023

“Attending Science Meets Parliament (SMP) 2024 was an incredibly unique and insightful experience, designed to foster engagement between STEM professionals and policymakers, taking place in the incredible Great Hall in Parliament House.

A highlight for me was attending the National Press Club Address by Science & Technology Australia President Professor Sharath Sriram, who spoke about the importance of research and development for the future of Australia. I really enjoyed the focus on the importance of not just recognising First Nations Knowledge, but actually investing in, elevating, and bringing the voices of First Nations peoples to the table. Of course, the SMP Gala Dinner was also a highlight; I had the opportunity to chat with Australia’s Chief Scientist, Dr Cathy Foley. We heard from the Minister for Industry and Science, as well as the Shadow Minister for Science.

A key part of SMP is the opportunity for scientists to meet in small groups with a parliamentarian. I met with Senator Matt O’Sullivan along with three other scientists. It was brilliant to be able to share the research I am doing with someone working in government, and then discover a shared passion for science education among all five of us in the meeting.

As a PhD student, it was an exciting opportunity to connect with parliamentarians and scientists beyond my field of work, whom I would not necessarily get to meet at a normal scientific conference. I would like to extend a heartfelt thanks to ASCEPT for providing me with the opportunity to attend; I have learnt lots and made some amazing connections.”

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