Former Bega resident Jodie Ward has been selected in Science Technology Australia’s Science Superstars program and is bringing her expertise to schools on the Far South Coast.
As part of the Superstars program, Dr Ward will visit five public schools in April to encourage participation in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) subjects.
Studies have shown a high rate of female students drop out of STEM subjects before completing Years 10 and 11.
Dr Ward is determined to increase participation by targeting girls in Years 8 to 10 to discuss the “plethora of scientific careers” that are possible.
Hopefully this will provide me with the opportunity to influence a young girl, or even boy, to keep pursuing science.Dr Jodie Ward
“We have been asked to give a number of presentations in schools to help target girls from year 8 to 10,” she said.
“Hopefully this will provide me with the opportunity to influence a young girl, or even boy, to keep pursuing science.”
Science Technology Australia received over 300 applications nationwide for the program and Dr Ward was one of 30 female scientists selected.
She received six months of training, including advanced communication skills, to become a role model for the next generation of girls and young women.
Dr Ward is currently acting as a mentor for 17-year-old Jade Moxey during her transition to university, providing her with advice and useful contacts to set her on the right career path.
Jade is a recent Sapphire Coast Anglican College graduate who received an ATAR of 86.35.
Jade was pleased with her result which sits above the entry benchmark for her list of university preferences.
She said Dr Ward’s advice helped her choose courses to better suit her career path.
“Jodie has been really crucial towards helping me work out the pros and cons of the courses and what direction to take and what could potentially lead to where I want to end up,” Jade said.
“Jodie has also given me a lot of contacts and networking opportunities, she got me onto the biology teacher at UTS (University of Technology Sydney) and Professors at UC (University of Canberra).”
Science dies out in school because a lot of students just see it as a subject.Jade Moxley, SCAC graduate
As a result, Jade has decided to study applied science and forensics at the University of Canberra, starting in February.
As Jade prepares for her journey through university, she thanks her parents and mentor Warwick Adams for their support.
“In year eight I was awarded the Sapphire Foundation scholarship run by Warwick Adams, he really instilled that there are different pathways in science, it is such a diverse area.”
“Science dies out in school because a lot of students just see it as a subject, but he really showed me the more applicable side of it,” said Jade.
She is a very dedicated student, whatever she puts her sights on she will do an amazing job, I think forensic science would be very lucky to have her.Dr Jodie Ward
She won the 2017 Australian Young Scientist of the Year award for developing a unique device.
“I worked with a friend to develop a device that was capable of producing both clean portable drinking water and medical grade sterile water without relying on electricity to to so,” she said.
“It is essentially for developing countries and after emergency relief, it is the first device of its kind that is capable of doing what it does.”
Dr Ward says she will continue mentoring Jade for as long as she would like, even when the Superstars of STEM program expires in July.
“She is a very dedicated student, whatever she puts her sights on she will do an amazing job, I think forensic science would be very lucky to have her,” Dr Ward said.
Dr Ward is currently the team leader of the Specialist DNA Laboratory of NSW Health Pathology.
She won a Winston Churchill Trust Fellowship in 2015 and spent the following year devising international best practice recommendations for the establishment of a DNA-led identification program by visiting some of the world’s leading forensic laboratories.
“I have travelled the world, and now I have come back and my goal is to see a national DNA identification program established for missing persons.”
Dr Ward is very focused on identifying 500 sets of human remains that are in storage across the country, which are unable to be identified through traditional means.