Reconciliation Week: celebrating Indigenous STEM stories

Indigenous STEM stories
Get inspired this Survival Day by our curated collection of young, talented Indigenous people completely killing it in their chosen STEM careers.

This Reconciliation Week we’re celebrating the contributions of Indigenous people in STEM

This Reconciliation Week (May 27-June 3), we’ll be spending the day acknowledging the history, culture and contributions of our Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities in STEM – both now and into the future!

“Indigenous people have been innovating, inventing, and experimenting for thousands of years,” says Celeste Carnegie, Program Manager of Indigitek, a non-profit Indigenous STEM community organisation that co-designed our Careers with STEM: Indigenous issue.

“It’s important that our STEM leaders are celebrated and incorporated into careers planning and STEM teaching to ensure these stories are highlighted and young people understand the career and study pathway opportunities out there.”

Here, we’ve popped together a sneak peek at some of the awesome First Nations role models we’ve featured in our career profile pages.

Lesley Woodhouse, Digital Knowledge Keeper

Lesley Woodhouse is a Darug woman and digital knowledge keeper who is bringing Indigenous culture to the world.

Lesley started her career in community legal, because she wanted to help her people and create a stronger mob.

I started my career in community legal, as I wanted to help my people and create a stronger mob.

“While working for the NSW Government, I saw all these communities who were making fantastic resources that would end up just sitting on shelves. I thought that if we could get these kinds of resources into schools, we could help create leaders who would be able to work with Aboriginal people to find solutions.

Wingaru Education is all about making Aboriginal content more accessible. Our early and primary school products are all digital, so kids can login wherever they are. We also offer cultural awareness training for workplaces who want to improve their cultural competency. People can access information on everything from Aboriginal astronomy to the science behind didgeridoos.”

Read Lesley’s full study and career path here.

Liam Ridgeway, Entrepreneur

Liam Ridgeway is a descendant of the Gumbaynggirr people of Nambucca Heads in Northern New South Wales and the Wakka Wakka people of Southern Queensland. In his awesome STEM job he combines STEM with entrepreneurship to connect communities.

When he was younger Liam always thought that in some way, shape or form, he’d own his own business.

I am co-founder of Ngakkan Nyaagu (NGNY) an Aboriginal owned digital agency, co-founder of Indigitek, an Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander community of people in Tech, and Cofounder of IndigiGig, a start up that finds Indigenous talent in the gig-economy and connects the talent with corporate Australia to deliver gig-based online services to their projects and internal requirements.

“NGNY is a 100% Aboriginal technology solutions business. Our main offerings around digital solutions, building websites, mobile apps and graphic design. We’ve branched out the business over the years, and we’ve grown to do things like website integrations with customer relationship management platforms like Salesforce and Microsoft Dynamics. We also have been doing IT-managed services and cloud services as well.”

Inspired already? Read Liam’s full career story here.

Bradley Moggridge, Water scientist

Kamilaroi water scientist, Bradley Moggridge, has one exciting STEM gig.

Bradley’s expertise is in Kamilaroi and Indigenous cultural values of water and the environment.

“There is growing recognition of the importance of embedding Indigenous knowledge into science managing our natural resources. I have been given a great platform to further tell my story through being awarded the CSIRO Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander STEM Professional Career Achievement award for 2019 and also ACT Tall Poppy of the Year for Science 2019.

“I was recently appointed as Associate Professor in Indigenous Water Science while also completing my PhD at the University of Canberra and behind that, as always, I will do what’s best for Kamilaroi people to ensure the impact I have is culturally sound. It is the Kamilaroi methodology that honours my ancestors while challenging the status quo and encouraging future generations to pursue science.”

Read Bradley’s full profile here.

Cass Hunter, Social Ecological Researcher

Cass Hunter is an Indigenous social ecological researcher with the Coasts program in CSIRO, Cairns.

As a kid Cass wanted to be a park ranger so she could work outdoors and help protect the environment.

“I’ve always had strong family ties to Far North Queensland, which is where I’m currently working and raising my family. My parents and grandparents grew up in the region – my Grandparents are both Kuku Yalanji and my grandmother is from Mabuyag Island in the Torres Strait.

“I’m currently working in the space of Coastal Indigenous Livelihoods. I’m part of a team that is helping to set up a new Indigenous Science and Engagement (ISE) program at the CSIRO! It’ll focus on co-developing new science opportunities and undertake cutting edge science by and with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders.

“I’m particularly interested in mapping out the layers of questions involved with stepping through the process of setting up a community-run enterprise in the context of the blue economy.”

Keen on looking into something similar? Get Cass’s study pathway info here.

 

Looking for free classroom resources? We’ve published three new First Nations-led teacher resources for Australian and New Zealand (English and te reo Māori) STEM educators! Read them here.

For a different perspective on STEM – including the way Indigenous people continue to innovate through culture – check out some of the first-person pathways and stories shared in our Indigenous STEM stories hub.

READ MORE:

Cassie Steel

Author: Cassie Steel

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

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