Marina Alexander and Mariana Campos are two of our leading women in STEMM (science, technology, engineering, mathematics and medicine). Although they both work with us in different areas, they unite in their commitment to solve some of our greatest challenges, including climate change and its associated environmental impacts.
Meet two of our brightest scientists
Marina Alexander, Postdoctoral Fellow – Science, Host Response
Wildlife was Marina’s childhood passion, and she was interested in the environment from a young age. As an avid tree climber she’d often be on the search for nests. When not up a tree, she’d pour over Neville William Cayley’s book What Bird Is That?.
“I was also a fan of Harry Butler’s ABC television show, In the Wild,” Marina said.
But it was in year 10 when Marina’s enthusiasm for science kicked in.
“My favourite teacher, Ms Rome, taught us the genetic code in biology. It was at this point when I started to realise how diverse the discipline could be. And how many doors it could open, including a career in STEMM.”
While Marina studied science at university, she also studied commerce. After graduation, she joined an investment bank. But she soon realised research was her calling.
“I changed to a career where I could solve big problems affecting future generations,” Marina said.
“As a scientist, I think collaboration is really important, especially on important topics like climate change. It’s one of those challenges that keeps me awake at night.
“As we rightly bring everyone out of poverty, consumption will rise. So, how can this consumption be done sustainably to ensure future generations live in safety on our planet, free from devastating wild-fires, floods and violet storms?”
Mariana Campos, Team Leader, Ecosystem Change Ecology
Mariana came to science early. Her mother was a biology teacher and the dinner table doubled as a laboratory bench.
“I was an incredibly imaginative child. I loved drawing and making up stories, but a lot of the creativity happened when I was out in nature,” Mariana said.
“From about the age of six, I’d look at microorganisms in pond water under the microscope. My mother would show me plant life cycles and approach the sometimes-awkward subjects like death and sex with a mixture of objectivity and awe.”
Considering tertiary education, Mariana contemplated architecture and law. But the desire to understand things in the natural world was too strong for her to ignore.
“I think I would have enjoyed other careers had I pursued them. However, I’m very happy with the experiences I’ve lived, the people I have met and the opportunities I’ve been given in my lifetime,” she said.
Mariana also has concerns about the natural environment. Her personal objective is to support consumption reduction and diverting waste from landfill.
“I think many people put environmental challenges in the too-hard basket. I’m looking forward to collaborating widely so we can consider solutions together,” Mariana said.
“If we could act on climate change, conservation, biosecurity, biodiversity, better education, improved heath and food security collectively, then imagine the possibilities.
“With greater diversity and inclusion in leadership positions, we can shift important decisions on topics such as climate away from power and profit and make significant change.”
Marina and Mariana work to make the impossible, possible every day. Both agree that working with us makes transdisciplinary work possible and provides the opportunity to tackle the big questions.