Vanessa de Kauwe

PhD Researcher



BA (Monash), Hons in Philosophy (ANU), Cert IV Disability Services (CIT)


Vanessa de Kauwe has more than two decades' experience in the disability and education sectors, and an honours degree in philosophy specialising in classical and postmodern philosophy. She has also completed studies in world theologies, pastoral care and ancient languages.

Her honours thesis examined questions of ethics and personal fragmentation regarding the American torturers at Abu Ghraib. She has published on postcolonialism and third world issues and allegorical portrayals of the marginalised in science fiction. Her publications also extend into the societal constructs of gender and disability, as well as the philosophy of politics and social justice.

Her PhD project is designed to academically frame, and rigorously evaluate, science-based programs for people with intellectual disabilities which she has run informally in professional contexts over the past decade. She has run masterclasses, lectures and workshops on this topic for diverse audiences, ranging from international science education and policy leaders to local disability practitioners.

In 2016 she was the co-recipient of an ANU Gender Institute grant in her capacity as postgraduate organiser and representative for the Gender, Science and Wonder workshop, held 11-12 February 2016, ANU.

In 2018 she was the recipient of an Australian Government Department of Foreign Affair & Trade grant which allowed for the dissemination of the results of her research in Sub-Saharan Africa. Through this grant, Vanessa created and delivered workshops that provided skills for  teachers and organisations involved with students with disabilities. She also targeted the empowerment of girls and women in science.


Research interests

Vanessa's research interests include: science communication, education and disability empowerment; postcolonial and third world issues; the construct of gender and disability through science; the portrayals of the marginalised in science fiction.


Current supervisor



de Kauwe, V. (2018). Presenting science to young adults with intellectual disabilities: The Steps of Thinking. Proceedings of the Public Communication of Science and Technology Conference: Science, Stories and Society, Dunedin, New Zealand, 3-6 April 2018.

de Kauwe, V. and Orthia, L.A.* (Accepted May 2017). Knowledge, power and the ethics illusion: Explaining diverse viewer interpretations of the politics in classic era Doctor Who. Special issue ‘Politics & Law of Doctor Who’, Journal of Popular Television. *First author status shared jointly.

de Kauwe, V. (2016). Return of the Archons: Children of the Revolution. In R. Smith? (ed.) Outside In: Star Trek TOS. Maryland: ATB Publishing.

de Kauwe, V. (2016). Aristotle's Monster: How the Aristotelian view of women and disabilities still haunts us. Presented at the Gender, Science and Wonder workshop, 11-12 February 2016, Australian National University.

de Kauwe, V. (2013). Through coloured eyes: An alternative viewing of postcolonial transition. In L. Orthia (ed.), Doctor Who and Race, Bristol: Intellect, pp. 141-157.

Media coverage

Grant, W & Lamberts, R. (2018, February 21). The Wholesome Show. Bringng science to disability education with Vanessa de Kauwe. A podcast interview with Vanessa on disability education.

Clancy, T. (2018, January 13). Evenings, ABC National. Interview with Vanessa on the impact of her research on students with disabilities.

ANU Science. (2017, November 28). When science skills become life skills. ANU Science, Environment, Health and Medicine Research Stories. Interview with Vanessa about her PhD research. Listed 3rd in the Top ANU Science Stories of 2017.

CBAA. (2017, October 12-19). Multiple broadcasters, syndicated Australia Wide (radio). Interview with Vanessa about her PhD research.

Hunt, J. (2017, October 12). Mornings, ABC South Eastern. Interview with Vanessa about her PhD research.

Laverty, J. (2017, October 11). Drive, ABC Canberra. Interview with Vanessa about her PhD research.

ANU Media. (2017, October 11). Science boosts skills of young people with intellectual disabilities. ANU News. Reports on Vanessa's PhD research.

ANU Colleges of Science. (2016). Scientists in their natural habitat. Profile of Vanessa de Kauwe, representing science communication, in an online gallery for National Science Week.

Departmental media coverage

CPAS. (2018, March 27). Disability & Gender Inititative in Zimbabwe & Zambia.

CPAS. (2018, March 4). Science Circus Africa: Disability & Gender Initiative.

CPAS. (2018, January 18). Vanessa de Kauwe on ABC Radio National.

CPAS. (2017, November 30). When science skills become life skills.

CPAS. (2017, August 6). Vanessa de Kauwe's disability empowerment program has great results in Africa.

CPAS. (2016, August 21). CPASians rock National Science Week.



Updated:  16 December 2018/Responsible Officer:  CPAS web officer/Page Contact:  CPAS webmaster