Rock star scientist announced as a Superstar of STEM

By Rob Clancy, staff writer

Associate Professor Jaclyn Pearson
Dr Jaclyn Pearson

A microbial mastermind and rock star scientist from Hudson Institute has today been announced as one of Australia’s newest Superstars of STEM.

VIEW VIDEO | Dr Jaclyn Pearson discusses her work on antimicrobial resistance (AMR)

Microbiologist Dr Jaclyn Pearson is one of 60 brilliant scientists, technologists, engineers and mathematicians who want to step into the media spotlight as STEM experts – they will be officially announced today by the Minister for Industry and Science, Ed Husic MP.

Dr Pearson’s research is searching for solutions to antimicrobial resistance (AMR), which the World Health Organisation calls one of the top 10 global public health threats facing humanity.

Scientist rock star working to save a pillar of modern medicine

“Antibiotics have been a pillar of modern medicine.” Dr Pearson said. “However, as decades have progressed, our over-reliance on these ‘miracle drugs’ has seen the rise of resistant ‘superbugs’, creating a situation where deadly infections may again be untreatable.”

 “The need to understand how ‘superbugs’ evolve is now critical,” she said. “People are dying from infections that antibiotics can no longer treat, and the problem will only get worse until we find a solution,”

As well as being a Research Group Head in Hudson’s Institute’s Centre for Innate Immunity and Infectious Diseases, she’s also a mother of three and a musician, so science is one of several strings in her bow.

“As well as my family and my research, music is my other passion in life – I was the drummer in an all-girl rock band called Lash in the early 2000’s and in a band called The Preytells from 2004-2009.”

Inspiring the next generations

Minister Husic congratulated the newest Superstars of STEM on stepping into the public arena to help inspire the next generations of diverse young Australians into STEM.

“The need to boost diversity in our science, technology, engineering and mathematics sector is urgent,” he said.

“There are huge skills shortages that can be addressed if we put our minds and collective effort to it – which means we have to draw deeply on our nation’s expertise from all corners of the community.”

“By doing so, we can deliver a stellar boost to our national economy and enable Australia to meet the growing demand for STEM-trained workers.”

“I’ve always been a fan of the way the Superstars of STEM program pushes to deliver a diverse STEM workforce and ensures the next generation of scientists and technologists have visible role models.”

Women and non-binary talent in STEM

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

“We know it’s really hard to be what you can’t see,” she said. “That’s why this game-changing program is helping to smash stereotypes of what a scientist, technologist, engineer or mathematician looks like.”

“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 and 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 highly competitive selection process, the program selects 60 women and non-binary STEM experts and gives them the training, confidence, networks and experience to become sought-after media commentators as experts in their fields.

Science and Technology Australia is the nation’s peak body representing more than 105,000 scientists and technologists. Their flagship programs include Science Meets Parliament, Superstars of STEM, and STA STEM Ambassadors.

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