I am a Fellow in the Centre for the Public Awareness of Science. My focus is on STEM education and why girls are underrepresented in physics.
I am an enthusiast science educator with experience in Australian National Science and International Baccalaureate curricula. In the last four decades I have specialised in senior chemistry and biology in numerous schools in Melbourne and Canberra, and I have lectured in the Masters Degree of Science Education at Deakin University. My research work has been in secondary school teaching practice while concurrently holding academic or teaching positions at Melbourne, La Trobe and Deakin University. I have been a leader as Head of Science, Partnership and Outreach in schools honing my expertise in curriculum design, community partnerships and outreach to communicate and support science learning in school and community-based environments.
My academic career has been an amalgamation of working in universities on education research and science outreach project delivery whilst remaining a 'grassroots' science teacher. I have held an Honorary Senior Fellowship at the University of Melbourne and an Adjunct Associate Professor at La Trobe University Melbourne since 2010 - 2018 and during 2019 - 2020 been a Principal Research Fellow (La Trobe University).
I am best known for developing the Growing Tall Poppies: an authentic science experience for Year 10 students. This program grew from action research I conducted since 2008, and was inspired to address the dwindling numbers of girls choosing to do physics beyond Year 10. This research demonstrated that delivering authentic physics learning experiences increases the number of girls choosing physics to Year 12. Targeting learning to relevant factors which influence STEM uptake is a gateway to increasing girls in underrepresented STEM disciplines and careers. Receiving educational, philanthropic and federal funding of more than $1,000,000 has enabled the Growing Tall Poppies educational-outreach to be communicated to 60 Australian schools, over 2,000 students, parents, teachers and scientists.
Recognitions include the inaugural National Australia Bank 'Schools First' $100,000 Victorian State Impact Award and being identified as "One of 50 Victorians Who Inspired Us" by the Herald-Sun newspaper, a Knowledge Transfer Award from University of Melbourne (2009), Victorian BHP teacher of the year in (2010), Highly Commended Teacher Award from the Prime Minister's Secondary Science Teachers Prize (2011; 2012), and Eureka Prize finalist Science Teaching (2012).
STEM curricula structure is the backbone of science communication in our culture. I am interested in how the education system can promote or hinder the advancement of students taking up STEM subjects beyond the compulsory Year 10 level and which factors influence gender disparities in physics-based STEM.