VU neuroscience PhD candidate Jerusha Maher is a tireless disability advocate who lives with cerebral palsy. Now, her larger-than-life portrait is among six images of STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) role models on display at Questacon in Canberra – Australia’s National Science and Technology Centre.
The aim of the exhibit is to encourage diversity and more women into STEM activities, research, and professions, and inspire the next generation of scientists, innovators and makers.
Jerusha has already passionately taken on this role since she decided she wanted to become a medical doctor with a disability.
She was named as part of Australia’s inaugural 12-member STEM Women Changemakers team by the Australian Academy of Science last year, and selected for the 2020 L’Oreal-UNESCO Women in Science mentoring program, which matches PhD candidates with female leaders in their fields.
Jerusha’s PhD focuses on whether non-invasive brain stimulation and strength training can improve strength and motor function in people with cerebral palsy.
“I want to live in a society where individuals are supported to be the best they can be, and I think seeing a scientist or a doctor with a disability should be normal.”
Over the coming years, hundreds of thousands of young people will visit Questacon in Canberra and it is critical that visitors see a broad range of STEM role models-especially those that they can personally identify with, she said.