Western Sydney University’s Dr Celia Harris has been named a 2021 STEM Ambassador by Science & Technology Australia (STA). The prestigious role will see her help bridge the gap between science and government as STEM Ambassador to Melissa McIntosh, Federal Member for Lindsay.
Dr Harris – a cognitive scientist expert in memory from the MARCS Institute for Brain, Behaviour and Development – will meet regularly with the MP to build the association between Parliament and the STEM sector and help politicians gain a deeper understanding of the potential impact of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics in Australia.
Dr Harris said she was excited to be able to represent the STEM community and hoped to be a strong ambassador for science and technology in public policy.
“I am passionate about the value of science in improving society, both by advancing knowledge as well as by solving pressing social problems. In the current context, when we face numerous social challenges in terms of health, population ageing, and the environment, it is more important than ever that politicians understand the deep knowledge and expertise that can support good decision making.
“The potential to communicate science directly to policymakers provides a wonderful opportunity to ensure research gets out of the academy to where it can make a genuine impact,” she said.
Dr Harris is one of 17 new STEM Ambassadors around Australia. STEM Ambassadors are drawn from Science & Technology Australia’s member organisations and come from a diverse range of academic backgrounds and interests.
The prestigious program – which began in 2019 – aims to encourage the involvement of science experts in Australian policy-making and bring their science expertise and networks to assist evidence-based policy-making.
Science & Technology Australia Chief Executive Officer Misha Schubert congratulated Dr Harris on being selected for the STEM Ambassador program in 2021.
“Science has been Australia’s salvation in tackling COVID-19. Australia needs to continue to build on that strong relationship between the STEM sector and Parliamentarians to prepare Australia to meet future challenges.
“The STEM Ambassador program empowers experts to become effective advocates for science and the sector, and to use their expertise to inform policy to shape Australia’s future.
“We’re delighted to welcome Dr Harris to the STEM Ambassador program and look forward to seeing them develop a strong working relationship with Melissa McIntosh to make sure science and technology are at the forefront of policy decisions,” he said.