Departmental Superstar of STEM helping advance animal health

3 December 2020

Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment veterinarian and epidemiologist, Dr Rachel Iglesias has today been named one of Australia’s official Superstars of STEM.

Chief Veterinary Officer Dr Mark Schipp congratulated Rachel as one of 60 brilliant women in science, technology, engineering and mathematics stepping into the spotlight for this acclaimed national program.

“Rachel’s work as a Veterinary Officer in the Animal Health Epidemiology and One Health team is important in the effective national surveillance and control of animal diseases in Australia,” Dr Schipp said.

“Rachel is an everyday superstar working on surveillance for important animal diseases to detect outbreaks and supporting export markets for animals and animal products.

“This includes preparing for outbreaks of emergency animal diseases and monitoring for animal disease incidents in other parts of the world that might pose a risk to Australia.”

Head of Animal Biosecurity at the Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment, Dr Robyn Martin, said Rachel was currently on secondment to the Department of Health gaining new knowledge and experiences and sharing her expertise as part of the COVID-19 response.

“Rachel already works closely with our health colleagues to ensure we are aware of any incidents that could pose a risk to the health of wildlife, domestic animals or people, and has taken up an opportunity to do a secondment,” Dr Martin said.

“We look forward to welcoming her back when she returns to the department in 2021.”

STEM Superstar, Dr Rachel Iglesias said she applied for the program to learn the skills needed to communicate more directly with livestock producers and the general public about the department’s science work.

“I’m excited about finding ways to invite our stakeholders to communicate with us about their priorities and interests,” Dr Iglesias said.

“I hope long term this means that we can serve them even more effectively.”

Science & Technology Australia Chief Executive Officer Misha Schubert said the program gave women in STEM stronger skills and confidence to step into expert commentary roles in the media.

“It’s hard to be what you can’t see,” Ms Schubert said.

“Women are still seriously under-represented in STEM leadership roles.

“The Superstars of STEM program sets out to smash stereotypes of what a scientist, technologist, engineer or mathematician look like — these powerful role models show girls that STEM is for them.

“We can’t thank the Australian Government enough for its strong support of this important program, which is already having a profound impact.”

Fast Facts:

  • In 2019-20, 56% of girls in years 7 and 8 said they intended to choose a STEM elective when they reach year 9 and 10 – that’s up from 50% in 2018-19. That compares to 87% of boys said they planned to choose a STEM elective.
  • In 2019-20, 50% of girls in year 9 and 10 took at least 1 STEM subject – that’s up from 32% in 2018/19. That compares to 71% of boys.
  • At university, women account for 35% of STEM course enrolments and 37% of STEM course completions (on 2018 figures). That’s just over one in three.