University of South Australia geoscientist Associate Professor Caroline Tiddy has been named a Superstar of STEM for her work to develop new sensor and geochemical exploration technologies to find critical metals.
Assoc Prof Tiddy is among 60 diverse scientists, technologists, engineers and mathematicians recognised nationally today by Science & Technology Australia to celebrate the country’s most inspiring women and non-binary people working in STEM, who are smashing the stereotype of “an old man in a white lab coat”.
The focus of Assoc Prof Tiddy’s research is on developing more efficient and environmentally friendly ways to explore for essential metals, particularly those that are in high demand, and to improve decreasing rates of discovery of mineral resources.
“Have you ever considered where the elements essential to building green technologies such as photovoltaic cells in solar panels come from? The answer is mining,” Assoc Prof Tiddy says.
“Copper is needed to build these cells, but global copper reserves will deplete by 2045. We need to find more of these metal deposits, which is a task akin to finding a needle in a mountainous haystack.”
Assoc Prof Tiddy is based in the Mineral Exploration Cooperative Research Centre (MinEx CRC) within the Future Industries Institute at UniSA. She holds a Master and a PhD in Geoscience from Monash University and has worked in Western Australia and South Australia during her 18-year career.
“I want to challenge and change the misguided perception of geoscientists as ‘environmental vandals’ and reconcile the disconnect between mining and the supply of metals that are critical in building green technologies,” Assoc Prof Tiddy says.
“Geoscience is a fascinating career, encompassing so much more than rocks and volcanoes. It embraces the wonders of our planet and helps explain the natural resources we use and how water and ecosystems are interconnected.”
Congratulating the STEM superstars, the Federal Minister for Industry and Science, Ed Husic MP, described them as “ideal role models” to 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,” Minister Husic says.
“There are huge skills shortages that can be addressed if we put our mind and collective effort to it, which means we have to draw deeply on our nation’s expertise from all corners of the community.”
Science & Technology Australia Chief Executive Officer Misha Schubert says the program gives 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,” Schubert says. “That’s why this program is helping to smash stereotypes of what a scientist, technologist, engineer or mathematician looks like. Superstars of STEM is powerfully shifting the dial on diversity in Australia’s science and technology sectors, helping to shape our future economy.”