Doctor making science enjoyable

Sharing the thrill of discovery is vital to getting people interested in science, according to La Trobe University’s Dr Susan Lawler.

Dr Lawler’s ability to do just that has earned her an award from the university for “community, engagement and partnership”.

The campus’ environmental management and ecology head has been recognised for her ability to communicate scientific discoveries in her column on news website The Conversation.

“It’s a funny skill to have in academia,” Dr Lawler said.

“In academic writing they want very serious, very heavy writing and I like to keep it light.

“People that aren’t scientists can understand what you’re saying.”

Dr Lawler was also applauded for her local VCE biology program taught to nearly 300 students from 14 schools last year.

She said she wanted to make science enjoyable when she developed the program using a hands-on approach.

It was also important was to show girls in the classes that science was a rewarding career path open to them too.

“They need to be able to realise women can do just as well as men,” Dr Lawler said.

“We need female scientists because we do things a bit differently.”

Meanwhile, Indigenous student services officer Dr Pettina Love received an award for initiatives in Indigenous education.

Dr Love launched the NAIDOC week awards last year to acknowledge the community’s Aboriginal role models.

She said she was thrilled as it showed the university recognised contributions to building respectful relationships.

“It just gives young people the chance to see the role models in our community,” she said.

“It’s really important for building the future.”

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