The Waite’s Professor Rachel Burton (pictured) is one of 17 STEM Ambassadors announced by Science & Technology Australia (STA) who will work together with their local MP to help bridge the gap between science and government in Australia.

These STEM Ambassadors represent 17 different electorates across Australia and have been matched with MPs from across the country and the political spectrum who have expressed a desire to build stronger scientific networks.

STA President Associate Professor Jeremy Brownlie said that the STEM Ambassador Program encourages the involvement of science in Australian politics and aims to put science and evidence-based policy on the national agenda.

“The STEM Ambassador Program is vital to forging relationships between science and parliament,” he said.

“STA advocates for evidence-based, science-informed policy, and the STEM Ambassador Program helps to connect our national decision-makers with scientific experts who can give them direct access to research, data and evidence.”

Rachel is a plant scientist and molecular biologist within the School of Ag, Food and Wine. She is interested in the ways that the parts of plant cell walls are made and put together but even more intrigued by how they are disassembled or fermented in the human gut, because they are the crucial dietary fibre element of our diets. She is also interested in renewable biofuels and believes that different plant feedstocks will fundamentally underpin this industry.

She was previously among 30 female scientists and technologists named the first Superstars of STEM in 2017 – ready to smash stereotypes and forge a new generation of role models for young women and girls.

Each Ambassador will meet regularly with their local MP to build associations between parliament and the broader STEM sector. It enables federal politicians to gain a deeper understanding of the potential impact of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) in Australia.

Rachel will partner with the MP for Mayo, Rebekha Sharkie.

“It’s brilliant to see so many of federal parliamentarians involved in the program and keen to know more about the science and technology happening in their own back yards,” Associate Professor Brownlie said.

“Australia’s STEM professionals play an incredibly important role in shaping Australia’s health and wellbeing, economic prosperity and environmental sustainability. This program empowers our highly skilled STEM workforce to make positive change and use their work to help build better policy and shape Australia’s future.”

The STEM Ambassador program builds on the successful 2019 pilot program and brings the total number of STA STEM Ambassadors to 24 across Australia.

The latest cohort of STEM Ambassadors come from a wide range of science, technology, and engineering mathematics professions, representing a range of sectors. For the ful list of STEM Ambadssadors, visit:

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