School Seminar: A/Professor Joanne Jamie. Macquarie University. “Empowering Indigenous Youth Through Science Leadership”
Friday, 14 February 2020 – 11:00 am in LT4, Level 2, School of Chemistry [Map]. (School seminar)
Host: Dr Stephen George-Williams
“Can you help us help our youth?” This heartfelt request from Yaegl Aboriginal Elders to Macquarie University scientists in October 2004 led to the creation of the National Indigenous Science Education Program (NISEP).
NISEP builds self-belief of Indigenous secondary school students by making them leaders of school, community and university-led science events. We place these youth in leadership roles where they teach relatable Western and Indigenous science to younger students, their peers and community members. Choosing the keen, the shy and the disengaged students, we support these new student leaders throughout their entire secondary schooling. We provide them with university student mentors, and we build strong and continuing connections with their local communities.
NISEP began as a collaboration between Macquarie University scientists, Yaegl and Bundjalung Aboriginal Elders and two schools in northern New South Wales. It has expanded to Charles Sturt University campuses and schools within the Riverina and Western Sydney. NISEP is facilitated by a small but dedicated team of Aboriginal Elders, science academics and high school staff committed to improving educational outcomes for Indigenous youth. Despite our small size, we empower around 200 Indigenous secondary students annually as leaders of science events with audiences of around 2000 people. We have seen tangible positive change in participants’ attitudes and their improved educational development as well as their aspirations towards STEM study and careers.
“My involvement in NISEP was an integral factor in me choosing to enter higher education.” —Former NISEP student now studying science and law
“It [NISEP] is just the best environment to foster character growth. I’m currently studying a Bachelor of Civil Engineering with Honours which I never could have imagined myself doing beforehand. It completely changes your life for the better.” —Former NISEP student leader
We want to help more Indigenous youth benefit from NISEP and are actively nurturing new university partnerships to sustainably increase our reach and impact across Australia.
This presentation will outline NISEP’s successful model of engagement and outcomes, and highlight its aspirations and opportunities for new partnerships.
Image credit: National Indigenous Science Education Program Eureka Prizes 2019 © Salty Dingo 2019 CRG-7382
Mini Biography and background
A/Prof. Joanne Jamie is a Bioorganic and Medicinal Chemist at the Department of Molecular Sciences at Macquarie University in Sydney. Her research activities include the firsthand documentation, biological screening and isolation of bioactive compounds from customary (traditional and contemporary) medicines; the design of radiopharmaceuticals for diagnosis and treatment of cancer and other diseases; and studies on isolation and synthesis of fruit fly attractants and analysis of their effectiveness to help address the major agricultural problem of fruit fly infestation in crops. As part of her work on customary medicinal plants with Yaegl and Bundjalung Elders of northern NSW, Joanne and her team have published five journal articles co-authored with the Elders and developed a bush medicine handbook for use in education and cultural tourism, as well as facilitated a Cultural Immersion Program – The River of Learning. As a best ethical practice extension to this research, she has also established with the Elders, and with fellow chemist (and husband) Dr Ian Jamie, the National Indigenous Science Education Program (NISEP, nisep.org.au), which uses Western and Indigenous science to enhance educational outcomes for Indigenous youth. Joanne, along with Ian, additionally developed and convenes the Macquarie University subject Engaging the Community in Science, which allows Macquarie undergraduate students to contribute to and increase the capacity of NISEP. NISEP has received various awards and accolades, including the 2011 Australian Learning Teaching and Council Award, the 2016 PwC Innovator of the Year as part of the PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) STEM 21st Century Minds Accelerator Program, the 2019 Macquarie University Reconciliation Award, and most recently the inaugural Australian Museum Eureka Prize for STEM Inclusion.