Priyanka Pillai – one of Australia’s newest Superstars of STEM

December 3, 2020

Health informatics specialist, Priyanka Pillai from the Australian Partnership for Preparedness Research on Infectious Disease (APPRISE) at the Doherty Institute has been named one of Australia’s official Superstars of STEM for 2021-2022.

Ms Pillai is one of 60 brilliant women in science, technology, engineering and mathematics who want to step into the spotlight as media stars chosen for this acclaimed national program.

Science & Technology Australia’s Superstars of Stem is a program that aims to equip women working in STEM with advanced communications skills, providing them with genuine opportunities to use these skills in media, on the stage and speaking with decision makers.

Using her background in bioinformatics, Ms Pillai is working in the area of preparedness research, that will strengthen Australia’s capacity to respond to infectious disease emergencies, and is actively working across various projects undertaking data-intensive research.

“It is now more important than ever that researchers and data specialists actively engage and communicate with the public the value that data adds to the research evidence. It is also important to communicate in plain language how the research evidence impacts policy and decision making,” Ms Pillai said.

“I’m excited to participate in the Superstars of STEM program, particularly as a woman coming from a culturally and linguistically diverse background to demonstrate the diversity of the research sector.

“It is important for highly talented women from migrant communities to be able to relate with women represented in media and I’m hoping to contribute towards supporting women in scientific leadership positions and achieving gender equity in every walk of life.”

Science & Technology Australia Chief Executive Officer Misha Schubert said the program gave women in STEM stronger skills and confidence to step into expert commentary roles in the media.

“It’s hard to be what you can’t see,” she said. “Women are still seriously under-represented in STEM leadership roles.”

“The Superstars of STEM program sets out to smash stereotypes of what a scientist, technologist, engineer or mathematician look like – these powerful role models show girls that STEM is for them.”

“We can’t thank the Australian Government enough for its strong support of this important program, which is already having a profound impact.”

“Sustaining this type of program for the long-term is more important than ever amid the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic on women in the STEM workforce.”

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