UTS has two new Australian Superstars of STEM

Marine scientist Dr Jennifer Matthews is working to rid our oceans of microplastics, while biomedical engineer Dr Jiao Jiao Li wants to build new tissues and organs. Both women now have the opportunity to share their vision with a wider audience as newly announced Superstars of STEM for Science & Technology Australia.

The two researchers are among 60 high-achieving women in science, technology, engineering and mathematics stepping into the media and science communications spotlight in the acclaimed national program. The Superstars of Stem for 2021-22 were announced today by Federal Minister for Industry, Science and Technology Karen Andrews.

Dr Jiao Jiao Li, from UTS School of Biomedical Engineering, said she is thrilled to have been chosen from a very competitive national field.

“As ‘tissue engineers’, we are working across diverse fields of STEM to address the worldwide shortage of donor organs. By combining ideas from engineering, cell biology, materials science and nanotechnology, just to name a few, we hope to build new tissues and body parts to save lives and help people live longer and better,” Dr Li said.

“Through this program, I wish to increase the public’s awareness and support of our work, not only to help make the next breakthroughs in medical technology, but also to inspire our younger generation to become the future workforce in STEM.

“I am so very honoured to represent our generation of women engineers on this program. I look forward to building my communication skills and making active contributions towards advocating for gender and cultural diversity in STEM.”

Marine scientist Dr Jennifer Matthews, from the UTS Climate Change Cluster, wants to use her background in ecotourism and marine resource management to lead innovation and change.

“I believe sharing my research and discoveries is critically important to help make marine science more accessible to the general public, build support for marine conservation activities and research, highlight the relevance of healthy marine ecosystems to society, and encourage more informed decision making from individuals to communities surrounding ocean sustainability,” Dr Matthews said.

“Joining this prestigious program will provide me with an unparalleled opportunity to improve my science communication skills, to promote my research in an engaging and approachable way, and inspire younger generations, especially women, to pursue STEM topics.”

Current Superstar and UTS scientist Dr Alex Thomson said the Superstars of STEM program has given her a sense of “empowerment”.

“I now feel empowered to use my voice, empowered to showcase my work and make impact, empowered to show what ‘science’ looks like,” she said.

“The Superstars are an amazing group of women and it is especially satisfying to welcome my UTS colleagues to a program that has such a profound impact on STEM in Australia.”