Science Indigenous Seminar Series

Science Indigenous Seminar Series is an initiative to raise awareness of the indigenous culture and foster dialogue between staff, students and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people within the Faculty of Science. Supported by Associate Professor Jaime Gongora, the Associate Dean of Indigenous Strategy and Services, the seminars are presented by prominent speakers who are recognised in different areas of science.

In 2018, we are delighted to welcome our guest presenters from the area of Australian native plants, Aboriginal participation in STEM subjects and astronomy and navigation of Aboriginal people.

2018 Seminar Dates

From glaciations to traditional indigenous practices – large-fruited species as indicators of change

From glaciations to traditional indigenous practices – large-fruited species as indicators of change

Seed dispersal is a key process in plant spatial dynamics impacting on the distribution of species as well as the assembly of communities. In Australia, as in many other parts of the world, species with large fruits rely on specialized dispersal mechanisms that affect their local and continental ranges differently. Consequently, large-fruited trees are more vulnerable to those landscape-wide transformations that result in the loss of critical keystone species, and can be used as indicators of change.

We are delighted to welcome Dr Maurizio Rossetto, Senior Principal Research Scientist from the Royal Botanic Garden Sydney, talking about using genetic, environmental and ecological data from large-fruited rainforest trees to investigate the impact of climatic shifts on rainforest distribution, develop management strategies that consider megafauna extinction, explore the deliberate impact of indigenous people on plant distributions and aim to trace ancient trade route.

About the presenter

Dr Maurizio Rossetto

Dr Maurizio Rossetto is Senior Principal Research Scientist and Manager, Evolutionary Ecology at the Royal Botanic Garden Sydney. Dr Rossetto is also Honorary Professor of the University of Queensland.

Dr Rossetto’s aspires to investigate the factors impacting on the spatio-temporal distribution and assembly of native plant species. His lab combines genetic and genomic data, with a range of other investigative approaches including environmental modelling, functional ecology and more recently indigenous knowledge. While he is interested in the Australian flora in general, much of his research has been on rainforest trees, with a particular focus on investigating how temporal changes and dispersal potential affect landscape-level dynamics.


Event Details

Date: Thursday 10 May
Time: 1 – 2pm
Venue: Lecture Theatre 101, New Law School Annex (F10A), Eastern Avenue, the University of Sydney

Promoting Gender Equity and Aboriginal Participation in STEM

Promoting Gender Equity and Aboriginal Participation in STEM

Gender disparity in Mathematics and in STEM subjects and professions, in general, is evident across Australia. Data shows that low participation of girls in advanced mathematics courses plays a large role in the lack of female participation in STEM professions including Maths teaching.

We are excited for Mrs Ashley Stewart, Head of Mathematics, Newton Moore Senior High School, to present at the Science Indigenous Seminar Series in 2018. As a passionate educator, Mrs Stewart’s aim is to help bridge the gap for girls in Mathematics as well as STEM. By running a variety of STEM projects, bringing their self-confidence up and strengthening their spatial skills, she is seeing a larger number of girls participating in Mathematics. In this seminar, Mrs Stewart will discuss where gender disparity comes from and shares the strategies she uses to help promote girls in mathematics and STEM and her direction for the future.

About the presenter

Ashley Steward

Mrs Ashley Stewart is Head of Learning Area Mathematics, Newton Moore Senior High School, WA. Her passion for Education and inspiring work has led her to receive numerous awards including 2017 CHOOSE MATHS Mentoring Girls in Maths National Award Winner by the Australian Mathematical Sciences Institute and Teaching Excellence Award Semi-Finalist by Curtin University.

Mrs Stewart has recently presented at Edith Cowan University in Perth on International Women’s Day and has been invited by many Universities to share her expertise in mentoring girls in maths.



Event Details

Date: Thursday 17 May
Time: 1 – 2pm
Venue: Lecture Theatre 351, Education Building (A35), Manning Road, the University of Sydney



The Astronomy and Navigation of Australia's Aboriginal people

The Astronomy and Navigation of Australia

Aboriginal people in Australia have a rich astronomical tradition such as the "Emu in the Sky" constellation of dark clouds, and stories about the Sun, Moon, and stars, revealing a depth and complexity of pre-contact Aboriginal cultures which are not widely appreciated by outsiders. Not only did they know the sky intimately, but they were familiar with planetary motions, tides, and eclipses. Their songs and stories show that Aboriginal Australians sought to understand their Universe in a similar way to modern science. They used this knowledge of the sky to construct calendars, song lines, and other navigational tools, enabling them to navigate across the country, trading artefacts and sacred stories.

We are thrilled to host Professor Ray Norris, Adjunct Professor of Indigenous Studies, Macquarie University, for our Indigenous Seminar Series. Join us to explore the astronomy and navigation of Aboriginal people.

About the presenter

Professor Ray Norris

Professor Ray Norris is an astrophysicist at CSIRO and Western Sydney University, and is also known as a popular science speaker. His professional life revolves around the question of figuring out how the Universe evolved from the Big Bang to the galaxies, planets, and people that we see around us today. To achieve this, he leads the international “Evolutionary Map of the Universe” team who use state-of-art radio telescopes and innovative “big data” techniques to sequence galaxies from the Big Bang to the present day, and answer questions like “why do most galaxies have a black hole in their centre, and how does it affect the galaxy’s life-cycle?”.

As well as his mainstream astrophysical research, he is also well-known for his ground-breaking research on the astronomy of Australian Aboriginal people. In this research, he particularly focuses on the question of how traditional Aboriginal Australians used their knowledge of the sky for practical and ceremonial purposes, and their development of an “etno-scientific” view of how the Universe works. He recently won an award for “Best Science Writing 2017”.


Event Details

Date: Thursday 24 May
Time: 1 – 2pm
Venue: Lecture Theatre 2, Physics Building (A28), Physics Road, the University of Sydney