Who we are

WOMEESA formed during the Inaugral Dorothy Hill Women in Earth Sciences Symposium (Nov 2017) identifying a need to bring together women in Earth and Environmental Sciences throughout Australasia.

 

Aim

  • To create a unified Australasian network of women working in Earth and Environmental Sciences in academia, government and industry

Objectives

  • Create a supportive network for all women in Earth and Environmental Sciences in Australasia

  • Develop new nodes in the region without current support and link to existing networks/societies

  • Facilitate greater collaboration between academia, government and industry in these fields

  • Provide role models of women in Earth and Environmental Sciences

  • Provide key support for women in the early stages of their career and those with carer responsibilities

  • Raise awareness of current gender equity issues

  • Develop strategies to support indigenous Australasians (in Australia, NZ and beyond)

  • Promote the importance of Earth and Environmental Science research and activities through social networks and the media

On 27 August 2018 WOMEESA became an Incorporated Association and a copy of our Constitution can be viewed here: WOMEESA Constitution

 

The WOMEESA Team


Heather Handley    President   ARC Future Fellow and Associate Professor  Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences  Macquarie University  NSW, Australia

Heather Handley

President

ARC Future Fellow and Associate Professor

Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences

Macquarie University

NSW, Australia

Teresa Ubide    Vice-President   Lecturer in Igneous Petrology/Volcanology  School of Earth and Environmental Sciences  The University of Queensland  QLD, Australia

Teresa Ubide

Vice-President

Lecturer in Igneous Petrology/Volcanology

School of Earth and Environmental Sciences

The University of Queensland

QLD, Australia

April Foote    Secretary   PhD Candidate  Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences  Macquarie University  NSW, Australia

April Foote

Secretary

PhD Candidate

Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences

Macquarie University

NSW, Australia

Sarah Kachovich    Design   PhD Candidate  School of Earth and Environmental Sciences  The University of Queensland  QLD, Australia

Sarah Kachovich

Design

PhD Candidate

School of Earth and Environmental Sciences

The University of Queensland

QLD, Australia

 
Jemma Purandare    Treasurer   PhD Candidate / Lead Scientist  Griffith Centre for Coastal Management  Griffith University  QLD, Australia

Jemma Purandare

Treasurer

PhD Candidate / Lead Scientist

Griffith Centre for Coastal Management

Griffith University

QLD, Australia

Loren Petruny    Financial Officer   PhD Candidate  School of Earth, Environmental and Biological Sciences  Queensland University of Technology  QLD, Australia

Loren Petruny

Financial Officer

PhD Candidate

School of Earth, Environmental and Biological Sciences

Queensland University of Technology

QLD, Australia

Nikola Van de Wetering    Media Management   MPhil Candidate  School of Earth and Environmental Sciences  University of Queensland  QLD, Australia

Nikola Van de Wetering

Media Management

MPhil Candidate

School of Earth and Environmental Sciences

University of Queensland

QLD, Australia

Sandra McLaren    Australasian Outreach Team   Senior Lecturer  School of School of Earth Sciences  The University of Melbourne  VIC, Australia

Sandra McLaren

Australasian Outreach Team

Senior Lecturer

School of School of Earth Sciences

The University of Melbourne

VIC, Australia

 
Amy Parker    Australasian Outreach Team   Research Associate  School of Earth and Planetary Sciences  Curtin University  WA, Australia

Amy Parker

Australasian Outreach Team

Research Associate

School of Earth and Planetary Sciences

Curtin University

WA, Australia

Stella Marris Martinez   Principal Resource Geologist  BHP Billiton  QLD, Australia

Stella Marris Martinez

Principal Resource Geologist

BHP Billiton

QLD, Australia

Kliti Grice    Western Australia Representative   Distinguished Professor  School of Earth and Planetary Sciences  Curtin University  WA, Australia

Kliti Grice

Western Australia Representative

Distinguished Professor

School of Earth and Planetary Sciences

Curtin University

WA, Australia

Nikole Arrieta   Postdoctoral Researcher  School of Earth and Environmental Sciences  The University of Queensland  QLD, Australia

Nikole Arrieta

Postdoctoral Researcher

School of Earth and Environmental Sciences

The University of Queensland

QLD, Australia

 
Anna Petts    South Australia Representative   Geological Survey of South Australia  Department for Energy and Mining  Government of South Australia  SA, Australia

Anna Petts

South Australia Representative

Geological Survey of South Australia

Department for Energy and Mining

Government of South Australia

SA, Australia

Jessica Walsh    Social Media   PhD Candidate  School of Earth and Environmental Sciences  The University of Wollongong  NSW, Australia

Jessica Walsh

Social Media

PhD Candidate

School of Earth and Environmental Sciences

The University of Wollongong

NSW, Australia

Derya Gürer    Social Media/Outreach   Lecturer/Research Fellow    School of Earth and Environmental Sciences  The University of Queensland  QLD, Australia

Derya Gürer

Social Media/Outreach

Lecturer/Research Fellow

School of Earth and Environmental Sciences

The University of Queensland

QLD, Australia

Jess Hillman    Blog and Member Spotlight Editor   Marine Geologist/Geophysicist  Marine Geoscience  GNS Science  New Zealand

Jess Hillman

Blog and Member Spotlight Editor

Marine Geologist/Geophysicist

Marine Geoscience

GNS Science

New Zealand

 

If you would like to join the team or contribute to WOMEESA in any region please email WOMEESA.network@gmail.com or get in touch via our contact form.

We are especially looking for team members from New Zealand and the South Pacific along with government and industry representatives.

 

Member Spotlight

Here we showcase some of our amazing members

 
 

Dr Verity Normington

Project Geologist, Northern Territory Geological Survey (NTGS)

What is your current role?

I am a Project Geologist with the Northern Territory Geological Survey (NTGS). I work in the Basin Geoscience team and the majority of work I do is concentrated in the Amadeus Basin that covers the southern part of the NT from Alice Springs to the SA/NT border. I am part of the mapping team that goes out and investigates the surface exposures of all the rocks and creates maps and reports about the rocks of the basin and the basin itself. A mapping geologist has many feathers in their caps, the feathers in my cap include sedimentology, stratigraphy, regolith geology, landscape evolution, geochronology, minex geochemistry as well as basin evolution and petroleum systems.

What has your career path been like?

I started with NTGS 5 years ago when I moved from Adelaide to Alice Springs. My career path was in one way traditional but in another way not so traditional. After failing high school due to illness and having a year off I decided to go back to school and finish year 12 and become a lab technician. I did geology as a year 12 subject and immediately fell in love with it and changed my plans to do a Bachelor of Science to become a geologist.

My time at university was interrupted several times due to needing surgery due to Chron’s Disease which meant having to have whole semesters off at a time. Despite these interruptions and with the help of the academic staff at the University of Adelaide I was able to finish my Bachelor of Science majoring in Surficial Geology. I then went on to do Honours while working at a supermarket and as a cadet geologist and then graduate geologist with the Geological Survey of South Australia. I then went straight into a PhD at the University of Adelaide.

My PhD, looking into the mineral implications of glacial sediments of South Australia was funded by the Deep Exploration Technologies Cooperative Research Centre (DET CRC) which gave me the opportunity to work with and build a network of Earth Scientists around Australian across many disciplines. During my PhD, I also worked briefly as an exploration geologist for CAMECO working DIDO (Drive In, Drive Out) in the Strzelecki Desert. I also had the opportunity to present at several International conferences in Europe as well as many in Australia. However it was not without its challenges my time as a PhD was interrupted by breaks for surgeries and illness due to Chron’s Disease.

I was in the final stages of my PhD when I applied for my current role at NTGS and in September 2013 I started working full time in Alice Springs while still completing my PhD remotely. In mid-2018, some 5 years later, I handed in my PhD and graduated. Again this was not without its challenges, doing a PhD remotely certainly had its challenges, the worst of which is the feeling of isolation no matter how responsive your supervisory panel is. Having very busy field seasons meant that for almost 5 months of the year I was not able to progress my PhD at all. After another period of illness a prolonged hospital stay and surgery I finally decided to put some major effort into finishing my PhD. Now that I have finished my PhD I am able to devote a lot of my time to my volunteer roles as secretary of the Governing Council of the Geological Society of Australia (GSA) and as Ambassador for Early Career Geoscientists for the Australian Geoscience Council (AGC).

What’s the best advice anyone has ever given you? 

Take every opportunity that is given to you and to take the risk – I would not be living and working in Alice Springs if I had not followed this advice.

What do you enjoy most about your job/research?

I enjoy the variety of what I do, the advantage of working in a smaller geological survey is that you get to dip your toe into many different aspects of geoscience as well as other aspects such as doing technical edits and planning field campaigns where you have to liase with land holders and other community stakeholders. One day I might be writing a geochronology report and the next I’m participating in a workshop with industry where we are sharing our findings and understandings of the geology and learning from each other.

What does a typical day of work involve for you?

There is no typical day in the office for me as I have so many different aspects of my job. A typical day in the office for me might involve doing linework for a map we are creating or doing a technical edit on a map that is almost finished, it could be writing a report on geochronology data that has come in from an external lab or writing explanatory notes to go with the maps that are in production. I might be at the core shed looking at a drillhole that needs a stratigraphic revision so it reflects the most recent understanding of the stratigraphy of the basin. If its field season I could be traversing across a ridge walking through the Neoproterozoic and into the Cambrian observing how the lithology changes as the climate changed and the fauna evolved from Stromatolites to hard bodied sea dwelling creature.

Be resilient, be patient, accepting of yourself and most importantly be kind to yourself and make sure you are doing what you need to do to stay physically and mentally healthy.

What advice would you give someone starting out in the same field?

Don’t pigeon hole yourself as one type of geologist, try your hand at as many different types of geology as you can. You may find your absolute passion and/or your niche and your people or you might just find yourself doing something different every day.

Is there anything you find difficult/challenging? If so, how do you deal with this, is there any advice you have for someone in a similar position?

The obvious challenge for me is working full time in a sometimes physically demanding job while managing a Chronic Illness. Many doctors and health care professionals told me that being a field geologist was not possible and that I should change careers. I have been living with a chronic illness for almost 20 years now and I have never let it stop me from doing anything. Things might take longer to finish or they have to be done slightly differently but there is always way to realise your dreams and follow your passions.  

For others in a similar position I would say be resilient, be patient, accepting of yourself and most importantly be kind to yourself and make sure you are doing what you need to do to stay physically and mentally healthy. There is no shame is taking some time out for yourself and allowing yourself to heal.  


Where are you hoping to end up in your career?

I love working for a government survey, you stand on both sides of the academia/industry fence. The work we do is very much focused to what industry need and want but at the same time we have the freedom to investigate things we find interesting. I want to be able to stay in government surveys but I would love to be able to lead a team and share my passion for geoscience and also for project management with others. Inspiring people to be their best self is inspiring to me.

You can follow Verity’s work on Twitter and Linkedin. She was also recently featured as one of Science and Technology Australia’s ‘Superstars of STEM’!


Joanne (JO) Watkins

Chief Executive, Earth Science Western Australia

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What is your current role?

I run an educational not-for-profit (reporting to a Board) called Earth Science WA. We create resources, train teachers, present incursions, support events and do many more things to support the teaching of Earth and Space Science (K-10) and Earth and Environmental Science (Year 11 and 12).

What has your career path been like?

I studied Biological and Environmental Sciences at Murdoch University then went straight into a Graduate Diploma of Education. From there I worked as a teacher in a district high school covering everything from Science and Maths to Outdoor Ed and Computing. Over time, I specialised in Science and Earth and Environmental Science teaching (and fell in love with earth science). The opportunity to work with Earth Science WA (ESWA) came up and I jumped at it, starting as Executive Officer, Secondary Education and then moving on to CEO. During this time I also completed a Graduate Diploma in Mineral Exploration Geosciences through the WA School of Mines.

What’s the best advice anyone has ever given you? 

Everybody feels under qualified for their dream job, just go for it! This advice led me to apply for the job with ESWA and allowed me to work hard to increase my knowledge and skill base in the very best place for me.

What do you enjoy most about your job/research?

I love sharing my passion for earth and environmental sciences, encouraging other young women (and men) to consider it as a wonderful (and important) career. I fell into both environmental and earth sciences, I started out in biology and, after taking an environmental science elective in my first year, added it to my degree. Then I was given the opportunity to teach the Year 11/12 subject Earth and Environmental Science and fell in love with Earth Science and that has led me to where I am today.

Everybody feels under qualified for their dream job, just go for it!

What does a typical day of work involve for you?

Every day is different (that’s why I love it)! I could be running hands-on incursions at a school, taking students out on a field trip, training teachers, working on new teaching resources, creating marketing materials, developing our websites, meeting with collaborators and sponsors, reporting to our Board, travelling to regional schools or conferences, updating our finances (or any number of administrative tasks) or any combination of these really.

What advice would you give someone starting out in the same field?

Take interesting electives, follow your heart and volunteer for programs that work with students (I get such joy out of seeing them become enthused about what I love).

Is there anything you find difficult/challenging? If so, how do you deal with this, is there any advice you have for someone in a similar position?

I find juggling competing interests and tasks challenging. My advice is to get really organised, I am always on the look-out for platforms/software that helps me to reduce my time spent on administration and to keep me focused on what is important.

How has the field you work in changed (particularly regarding women) since you have started working?

Teaching and science communication have always been female friendly fields but I am finding that I am working with more and more women in the resources industry (in increasingly senior roles) and I love that.

What do you see as the next steps forward in your field?

I think we need to help students prepare for a rapidly changing workplace and would love to work more on what skills students need and how ESWA could help with that.

You can find out more about ESWA here: www.earthsciencewa.com.au, or on Facebook and Twitter.


Dr Lorna Strachan

Senior Lecturer of Sedimentology, University of Auckland

What is your current field of research?

I am a marine geologist who specialises in understanding the way in which sediment moves and is deposited in the deep ocean. I do this by studying the seafloor, analysing sediment cores and also by looking at ancient seafloor sediments that have been turned to rock and are now exhumed at the earth’s surface.

What has your career path been like?

I followed a fairly typical education trajectory, once I finished high school I went to the University of Leeds to study a BSc (Hons) in Geological Sciences, followed by a PhD at Imperial College and Cardiff University. I then worked as a science administrator for year, did 2 post-doctoral research jobs and then moved to NZ where I was employed as a Lecturer in Sedimentology at the University of Auckland.

What’s the best advice anyone has ever given you? 

Someone told me to form collaborations with people you’d like to spend time with in the pub! I think that this was a great piece of advice! I have found the best and most enduring collaborations are with people I consider to be good friends. It’s a pleasure to work with them.

“Form collaborations with people you’d spend time with in the pub!”

What do you enjoy most about your job/research?

I enjoy several things, first the interaction with research students both in developing a good working relationship and in idea bouncing, second the luxury of essentially being my own boss, I get to decide what direction I want to take my research in and what information I want to share in my lectures. I think both of these aspects make academia a pretty special place work.

What does a typical day of work involve for you?

As a mother of 2 young children my days start early and involve getting the family up and ready to start work/daycare. Once at work my days are very varied. They can involve many hours of lecture and laboratory teaching, meetings with colleagues to plan teaching and research, skype meetings with research collaborators, meetings with my students, hands-on research of rock or core samples, or spending the day in the field. I am constantly juggling many tasks and priorities and so no two days are the same.

What advice would you give someone starting out in the same field?

Follow your passion and find a great team of people to work with.

Is there anything you find difficult/challenging? If so, how do you deal with this, is there any advice you have for someone in a similar position?

The juggle of work and family life is particularly tough sometimes, particularly during that 1st year back after parental leave. I have been lucky enough to have a mentor who has recently gone through a similar experience. The act of sharing experiences and talking about strategies to protect myself from taking on too much have been immensely helpful.

“These women are role models and trailblazers for others, like me, to follow.”

How has the field you work in changed (particularly regarding women) since you have started working?

There have always been a healthy number of women in the field of sedimentology, but only a relatively small number have remained in academia. This has certainly changed, with more and more female role models remaining in the field and reaching the highest echelons. These women are role models and trail blazers for others, like me, to follow.