Indigenous innovators are transforming their communities with STEM 

Nyheemah Cox received the Innovator to Market Award. Image: CSIRO

Meet the talented next-gen of Indigenous innovators being celebrated with prestigious STEM Awards.

It’s award season in the STEM (science, technology, engineering and maths) world, which means a new generation of innovators have been given the platform to share their game-changing visions.

This month an impressive line-up of local talent have been given kudos for their dedication to STEM innovation, with both the BHP Foundation Science and Engineering Award and Indigenous STEM Awards winners announced last week.

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“It’s great to be able to encourage the innovation, creativity, and critical thinking as well as increase the diversity of a new generation of STEM innovators and researchers for Australia,” stresses BHP Chief People Officer Athalie Williams.

“It’s critical to the future of STEM that Indigenous peoples in Australia and around the world are participating in STEM careers and driving the advances that the world needs.

STEM + helping others

This year it’s been particularly awesome to see the winners of the Indigenous STEM awards using their cultural knowledge, deep connections to country and science, tech, engineering and maths skills to create practical, sustainable and accessible solutions to the immediate problems facing their own communities.

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Among the long list of winners was Year 12 innovator Nyheemah Cox, who received the Innovator to Market Award for her health project that sought to create affordable and effective medical solutions for smaller communities without access adequate to medical supplies.

The Western-Australian-based CAPS Coolgardie student has already successfully identified antimicrobial activity in three different bush plants, to test and validate their healing properties and to support their use in treating minor ailments.

2019 ACT Tall Poppy of the Year for Science (AIPS) Bradley Moggridge was also acknowledged for excelling in his field, receiving an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Professional Career Achievement Award for his important work in Aboriginal engagement, water and environmental science.

Moggridge led Australia’s Aboriginal water unit, at the NSW Department of Primary Industries. Image: CSIRO

He is currently completing his PhD at the University of Canberra, where his research links western science with traditional knowledge to develop best-practice methodologies for water planning and management tailored to specific landscapes.

“My methodology is driven by my Kamilaroi knowledge and wisdom based on traditional lore and customs. I follow cultural protocols to ensure my research stays grounded,” Bradley says of his research.

“With my science and cultural background I believe I have a great opportunity to promote my ancestor’s water knowledge, mentor the next generation of Indigenous scientists and influence the way we value water.”

Local award ceremonies for Indigenous STEM Awards will occur over six weeks to involve and acknowledge the winners’ local communities. Head here, for the full list of finalists.

Cassie Steel

Author: Cassie Steel

As Refraction’s digital assistant, Cassie Steel spends her days researching robots and stalking famous scientists on Twitter.

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