Professor Emma Johnston is the subject of the latest edition of Aussie STEM Stars, an inspiring children’s book series that celebrates Australia’s experts in science, technology, engineering and mathematics.
The Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Research) at the University of Sydney, she is a highly awarded and world leading authority in marine science and conservation, as well as a television presenter. A past President of Science & Technology Australia (STA), an elected position, Professor Johnston is a highly influential figure in the Australian higher education and research sector and was a former Dean of Science and Pro Vice-Chancellor (Research) at UNSW.
The book series, written for children aged 10-13 years, explores the childhood, school, family, and formative experiences of each scientist profiled, and identifies what inspired them to pursue their chosen path, how they persevered in the face of challenges, and their contribution to science.
Like other books in the series, Emma Johnston: Marine Biologist and TV Presenter, is designed to encourage kids to discover their national STEM heroes and learn about their inspirational life stories. Each book in the series is written by an award-winning children’s author and celebrates the real-life stories of some of Australia’s top scientists and inventors. Professor Johnston’s story has been written by award-winning children’s author Dee White.
I am a passionate environmental scientist and an advocate for greater diversity in our research community. I hope this book helps open the door to a career in research for a diverse range of kids from across the country.
“It has been a pleasure to be a part of this children’s fictional book series which serves to promote reading and inspire the next generation of scientists and inventors,” said Professor Johnston. “I am a passionate environmental scientist and an advocate for greater diversity in our research community. I hope this book helps open the door to a career in research for a diverse range of kids from across the country.
“I’ve not previously shared the story of my life. It reveals a strong marine theme, from early childhood growing up in a peninsula town, swimming, snorkelling and sailing, to my diving adventures under the Antarctic Sea ice, and later efforts to translate marine science into marine solutions. This collaboration with author Dee White goes some way to explaining why I love research so much and how people can use research to inform the restoration and conservation of our precious marine environments.”
About Professor Johnston’s STEM research
Professor Johnston’s research focuses on global change including marine debris, microplastics, bushfire impacts in marine ecosystems and securing Antarctica’s environmental future. It is research that is conducted in such diverse field environments as Sydney Harbour, Antarctica, the Great Barrier Reef and temperate Australian estuaries. While at UNSW, her research group investigated the ecology of human impacts in marine systems, combining the diverse disciplines of ecology, microbiology, and ecotoxicology to expand fundamental understanding and provide recommendations for management.
She has led major research projects for industry, government, the Australian Research Council, and the Australian Antarctic Science Program and contributed to the development of international and national research strategies, priorities and plans. She is a sustainability and diversity champion and a Chief Author of the Australian State of the Environment Report 2021. She is also a trusted advisor working across a range of government and industry bodies.
Professor Johnston is a fellow of the Australian Academy of Science (AAS), of the Australian Academy of Technology and Engineering (ATSE) and of the Royal Society of New South Wales. She was made an Officer of the Order of Australia (AO) in the 2018 Queen’s Birthday honours for “distinguished service to higher education, particularly to marine ecology and ecotoxicology, as an academic, researcher and administrator, and to scientific institutes.”
She is a regular media commentator and, as co-presenter of the Foxtel/BBC television series Coast Australia, helped take Australian marine science to an international audience.
The book’s author, Dee White, has written more than 20 books published in USA, UK, Canada, Israel, Australia and New Zealand. She has three generations of scientists in her family, cares deeply about the environment and is fascinated by how things work. Ms White loves writing books that empower readers and inspire them to explore the world outside their own experiences.