The sky’s the limit for our top local achievers

The sky’s the limit for our top local achievers

Aboriginal STEM student of the Year finalist Simone Harrington. Photograph — Debbie Painter.

Seven finalists represented the suburbs of Canning out of the 21 groundbreaking finalists announced earlier this month at the Premier’s Science Awards in Western Australia.

This year’s focus was to highlight significant work from scientists in WA and to foster a strong science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) culture in the community.

There were four finalists for the Aboriginal STEM Student of the Year category.

Carlisle resident Simone Harrington was a finalist under this category and a proud Kidja woman and part of the Bridge family from Halls Creek in the East Kimberly.

She is also the first Aboriginal student to undertake the combined Doctor of Philosophy and Master of Clinical Psychology at the University of Western Australia.

She acknowledged the vital importance of enforcing a STEM culture in WA.

“Within the wider STEM context we need to be scientifically informed about humans’ abilities, limitations and behaviours in order to advance wellbeing,” she said.

Her ongoing goal is to improve Indigenous social and emotional wellbeing.

For Simone Harrington, being nominated for the Premier’s Science awards represents an opportunity to shine a light on the need for uniform pervasive action to take place in line with the Australian Indigenous Psychology Education Project (AIPEP) guidelines.

“The goal of this project is to increase the number of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander psychologists, which is key to making culturally appropriate services available,” she said.

With an asteroid named after him,
Professor Phil Bland is a finalist in
the Premier’s Science awards. Photograph
— Richard Polden.

With an asteroid under his name for his contributions to planetary science, Professor Bland said he is honoured to be one of the four finalists under the Scientist of the Year category this year.

“I am a proud and happy member of the Rossmoyne community and a proud West Australian, I want to bring the benefits of what we do to the state,” he said.

“WA has a top-notch research community.

It’s great that the state government continues to recognise that with these awards.”

Professor Bland works with colleagues from NASA and is now working with staff and students from the Space Science and Technology Centre to build a spacecraft and a satellite to be launched next year for the first time.

“I want WA students to know that they can do amazing things right here in Perth, that the sky isn’t the limit,” he said.

The new State STEM skills strategy aims to build a global competitive and innovative workforce.

Science Minister Dave Kelly said this strategy would drive WA’s technological future and create new job opportunities.

“Our science community are world leaders in many respects and it’s fantastic to showcase WA talent through these awards,” he said.

The Premier’s Science awards winners and Western Australian science hall of fame will be announced at a ceremony on August 13, 2019.