CSIRO superstars set to inspire careers in STEM


Three researchers from CSIRO, Australia’s national science agency, will join Science & Technology Australia’s ‘Superstars of STEM’ program to inspire others into science and technology careers.

The latest cohort of 60 scientists, technologists, engineers and mathematicians who want to step into the media spotlight as STEM experts were officially announced today by the Minister for Industry and Science, Ed Husic MP.

CSIRO researchers joining the program in 2023 and 2024 are:

Sophie Gilbey

Sophie Gilbey is a proud Alywarr (Ah/yell/wah/da) woman and ecohydrologist from Mt Isa, Queensland.

Sophie studied at Flinders University, Adelaide and works in CSIRO’s Managing Water Ecosystems team. Much of her work is based in the Murray-Darling Basin, where she can be found measuring water use in trees and analysing how water is being used by the environment.

“I have a connection to Country and doing a job that enables me to work in the field, I feel I can also look after Country and protect Country,” Ms Gilbey said.

“As a Superstar of STEM, I’m looking forward to inspiring other young minds to pursue a career in science through the program’s school visits.”

Dr Laura Driessen

Astronomer Dr Laura Driessen uses some of the biggest radio telescopes in the world, including CSIRO’s ASKAP telescope on Wajarri Yamaji Country in Western Australia, to try and find ‘flaring’ stars that produce bursts of plasma.

“If we know which stars flare, we know where not to look for signs of life on other planets. Most things a radio telescope sees in the sky are galaxies, I work on sorting out what’s a star and what’s not,” Dr Driessen said.

Laura completed her master’s degree at the University of Amsterdam in 2017 and her PhD at the University of Manchester in 2021. She’s now back home in Australia, working as a Postdoctoral Fellow at CSIRO.

“I am a firm believer in ‘you can’t be what you can’t see’ so I make an effort to participate in science communication. I am keen to learn how I can engage with the public more widely and learn from other amazing women in STEM.”

Dr Vanessa Moss

When Dr Vanessa Moss was a child she was intensely curious about the world, and it was this curiosity that led her to a career in science.

Now, Dr Moss is a radio astronomer based at CSIRO working at the boundaries between astronomy, telescope operations and data science.

“I oversee science operations for our ASKAP telescope on Wajarri Yamaji Country in remote Western Australia, managing astronomical observations from specification to arrival for processing at the Pawsey Supercomputing Research Centre,” Dr Moss said.

“I want to share my passion for science: what it means to be an astronomer, and a scientist, and why science is so crucial to the fabric of our society.”

CSIRO Chief Scientist Professor Bronwyn Fox congratulated the trio on being selected for this prestigious program.

“Our future relies on a wealth of talent in science and technology and CSIRO is proud of our many superstars who are focussed on solving Australia’s greatest challenges,” Professor Fox said.

“Sophie, Laura and Vanessa are making the most of the exciting career opportunities in STEM and inspiring others to join them.”

Science & Technology Australia Chief Executive Officer Misha Schubert said the Superstars of STEM program gave women and non-binary talent in STEM crucial skills and confidence to step into expert commentary roles in the media.

“By becoming highly visible role models in the media, these Superstars of STEM are showing our diverse next generations of young people – especially our girls and non-binary kids – that STEM is for them.”

Superstars of STEM is an initiative of Science & Technology Australia funded by the Australian Government’s Department of Industry, Science and Resources. The next 60 Superstars of STEM will join the program in 2023 and 2024.

Through a competitive selection process, the program selects 60 participants and gives them the training, confidence, networks and experience to become sought-after media commentators as experts in their fields.

Read Science & Technology Australia’s media release on the Superstars of STEM program

/Public Release. View in full here.