Meet Liz Andrews, a recent Bachelor of Science (Biology) graduate who is taking her love for the marine environment to new depths with a Master of Applied Science, through CQUniversity’s Coastal Marine Ecosystems Research Centre (CMERC). CQUniversity celebrates Liz’s achievements this International Women’s Day 2020.
This year’s IWD theme is #EachforEqual. What does this theme mean to you?
For me, the #EachforEqual theme encapsulates that every action, big or small, we take to stand against equality for ourselves and others can make a difference, with a ripple effect. One ripple may not change the world, but many ripples can. It is our responsibility to spread the ripples of equality.
Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) sill remains a male-dominated field. In your opinion, how important is it for women to become involved/work in the field?
I think it’s extremely important for women, that wish to, work within STEM. When I was young, I was told by a teacher that as a woman I was best to try and get into finance or office job. I must add for context, I come from a very small island and to be fair finance is the main industry. However, the option of becoming a biologist, despite being good at and enjoying science was never mentioned. The more women seen entering the STEM field, the more young girls may realise it is an option for them too. Additionally, as more women enter the STEM field, the more ‘the norm’ it may become and the less overlooked women will be in the STEM job market.
Now that your bachelor studies are complete, what’s on your study agenda?
I am now staring down the path of a Master of Applied Science at CMERC. I will be seeking to understand seagrass population genetics, epigenetics, trait selection and adaptations to differing light conditions and how that knowledge can increase the success rate of seagrass restoration projects.
Who/what inspired you to enter the STEM field? And, what would you say to other women who are considering it?
I love the natural world and I have always wanted to understand more how it works. I was one of those children that were forever asking my parents how, what, why. By entering the STEM field, I can put my inquisitive mind to work. Whilst, getting to spend days out in nature and out on the water.
I’m not sure if I can think of a specific person that inspired me to actually enter the STEM field. Although, Jane Goodall has long been an inspiration for her life as an adventurous female scientist. I would also have to give some credit to David Attenborough for opening my eyes to our strange wonderful world as a child.
You recently gave the response by the graduates’ representative at the Gladstone Graduation ceremony. How was this experience?
I as someone who dislikes being at the forefront of everyone’s attention, I found it an absolutely terrifying honour. However, as it is something I keep being told I better get over quickly, I am glad I did it. It was wonderful to see my fellow students graduating and an honour to represent them.
You graduated with distinction! (impressive). How did you manage to juggle work, life, social commitments?
Very early morning starts, lots of coffee and working weekends. I never used to be an early bird, but it appears that it is when my mind works the best. It wasn’t easy balancing everything, and quite often a juggling ball was dropped and lost. I had to focus on what was important, on what would make a difference in my life or others if I did or didn’t. If it made no real difference, then that was a ball I dropped or temporarily placed down. The hardest part was learning that it was ok to put a ball down at times.