Seaweed scientist named Australian STEM superstar - University of the Sunshine Coast, Queensland, Australia

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Seaweed scientist named Australian STEM superstar

3 Dec 2020

A USC scientist passionate about restoring seaweed forests and finding solutions to global problems has been named one of Australia’s official Superstars of STEM.

Marine ecologist Dr Alexandra Campbell is among 60 women in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) announced today for the 2020-2021 round of the national program that equips STEM experts with the communication skills to become role models.

In her role at USC’s Seaweed Research Group, Dr Campbell is working on ways to engage the community with the restoration of seaweed forests and encourage people of all ages to reconnect with nature and make a positive difference for the planet.

“I’m really interested in solutions-focused science – ways that we can use our understanding of seaweed to address specific needs, particularly in the environmental and business spaces,” she said.

“Seaweed has huge potential to solve many big problems. By restoring seaweed forests, we can facilitate the restoration of other species in the sea and, because seaweed grows so rapidly, it is also a healthy option to help boost food security.

“Seaweed also removes carbon from water very efficiently and cleans up contaminated waterways by soaking up nutrients and other types of pollution. It’s a really exciting time because there is a huge amount of interest in seaweed as a solution right now.”

Dr Campbell said the communication of science had never been more important.

“This is a time in our history when we really need clear communication of STEM to combat misinformation,” Dr Campbell said.

“Placing articulate experts in the spotlight will help us innovate our way out of the global catastrophes we are experiencing at the moment by making innovation and technologies more accessible to everyone.”

USC’s Seaweed Research Group is also working on other seaweed solutions, including growing seaweed at scale to add to feed for cattle to stop them burping methane and for fish to boost their immunity.

USC Vice-Chancellor and President Professor Helen Bartlett said she was thrilled to see Dr Campbell sharing her enthusiasm with the community.

“The problems that our STEM experts are working on are problems that affect our communities and our world, so we need to talk about the impact of science as widely as possible,” Professor Bartlett said.

“Women are still under-represented in STEM leadership roles. But that is changing and the more we see female leaders sharing their excitement and successes, the more our future generations are encouraged to see that science, technology, engineering and mathematics all lead to exciting and achievable careers.”

The Superstars of STEM program is supported by the Australian Government’s Department of Industry, Science, Energy and Resources.

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