Spacial modeller named a Superstar of STEM

Cancer Council Queensland spatial modeller Dr Susanna Cramb has today been named a Superstar of STEM by Science & Technology Australia (STA).

Entry into the program is highly competitive, with only 60 scientists chosen from around Australia.

Dr Cramb will spend the next two years undertaking activities that aim to remove society’s gender assumptions about scientists and increase the public visibility of women in STEM.

She said her experience earlier this year speaking at a girls’ maths day at the University of New Wales motivated her to apply to become a Superstar of STEM.

“I really enjoyed speaking to 600 young women who are in senior high school and encouraging them to consider a career in statistics. It made me realise I have the potential to be a role model for students and could promote the importance of women in STEM,” Dr Cramb said.

In addition to working within Cancer Council Queensland’s research team, Dr Cramb is an adjunct visiting fellow with QUT.

She was a key member of the team behind the recent release of an Australian Atlas of Cancer – the interactive digital cancer atlas shows national patterns in cancer incidence and survival rates based on where people live for 20 of the most common cancers in Australia.

“It’s hard to see if there’s a problem in an area without getting the data and running some analyses. So we’re able to see clearly what is happening in this country when it comes to cancer, and identify where things potentially need to be improved,” Dr Cramb said.

Professor Emma Johnston AO, President of Science & Technology Australia, said the 60 women announced today would no longer be hiding their scientific superpowers, and would share them with as many Australians as possible following the launch.

“When we launched the program last year, I said that the stereotypical scientists was an old man in a white coat,” Professor Johnston said.

“Thanks to the first 30 Superstars this is starting to change, and with 60 more announced today, we will be well on our way to permanently smashing the stereotype.”

For Dr Cramb, her superpower is statistics. She wants to show that in addition to her work with the Atlas of Cancer, stats can be used to make a difference in so many different areas.

“Data is everywhere, but without statistics and knowing how to interpret that data, we won’t have a chance to make use of all that information. Statistics are valuable in almost any discipline, whatever someone’s interest is in, they can merge that with statistics to have an impact,” she said.

Dr Cramb sees the importance of communicating her research, and believes all scientists should see that as a priority.

“Any scientist needs strong communications skills. If you can get your message across to audiences, that’s when they can see how amazing science is. So I am hoping to improve my communications skills through the Superstars program,” she said.

For more information on the Superstars of STEM program, visit