Roberta is a Research Fellow in the University of Adelaide’s School of Agriculture, Food and Wine. Her research focuses on helping viticulturists worldwide to improve their vineyard management so that quality wine can be consistently produced.
An initiative of Science and Technology Australia, the program aims to smash gender stereotypes and assumptions about scientists, and increase the public visibility of women in STEM. The Superstars are public examples of the diverse range of people working in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM), and role models to encourage girls to consider a career in STEM.
Professor Emma Johnston AO, President of Science & Technology Australia, said the women would no longer be hiding their scientific superpowers, and would share them with as many Australians as possible.
“Each Superstar will connect with hundreds of school children; feature in local, national and international media; and serve as a representative for their work, their discipline and their sector,” Professor Johnston said. “We are extremely proud to have seen hundreds of capable, skilled, confident women apply for the program, and really look forward to sharing the stories of these impressive 60 Superstars with the world.”
Despite growing up in the only province of Italy where there is no wine production, Roberta pursued a career in viticulture and she moved to Australia after completing her PhD at the University of Padova.
2018 marked Roberta’s ten years at the University of Adelaide where her research interests include vine physiology, vine performance and sustainable vineyard management.
Roberta is passionate about delivering practical outcomes for the wine industry and is the co-inventor of a smartphone App that enables real time monitoring of grapevine canopy architecture to improve vineyard management. She won the Australian Women in Wine award for Researcher of the Year in 2016 for her contribution to the Australian wine industry.
One of only two SA-based Superstars this year, Roberta follows Professor Rachel Burton who was among the 30 inaugural Superstars in 2017.
“Being a Superstar of STEM is exciting for many reasons,” Dr De Bei says.
“My participation in this program is a great opportunity to broaden my skillset and build on my commitment to championing change for women in STEM. This will improve my effectiveness in communicating with the media, in public forums, and with high-profile members of the community.
“I would also like to fulfil the program aim of becoming a role model for girls and young women, especially those of migrant descent who are like me, by showing that a career in STEM is fun and attainable.”