An innovative hydroclimatolgist and research fellow from The ARC Centre of Excellence for Climate Extremes has today been announced as one of Australia’s newest Superstars of STEM.

Dr Chiara Holgate is one of 60 diverse brilliant scientists, technologists, engineers and mathematicians who want to step into the media spotlight as STEM experts – will be officially announced today by the Minister for Industry and Science, Ed Husic MP.

In a year where Australia’s east coast has faced major floods, extreme rainfall and a rare third La Nina, Dr Holgate’s research investigates the processes that drive rainfall in the region – research that will only get more important in a warming climate. Just this week, Dr Holgate has been educating the community about the drivers behind current flooding.

“With several of Australia’s climate drivers acting in their wet phase, more flooding in the coming weeks and months should not come as a surprise and floodplain communities need to be prepared to act quickly. Our research shows that rainfall in eastern Australia is maximised when a particular set of climate drivers act in concert” says Dr Holgate.

“This combination of drivers is happening right now – La Nina with a negative Indian Ocean Dipole and positive Southern Annular Mode. These drivers have led to higher than normal rainfall over eastern Australia in recent times that have primed the landscape for flooding. Of course, while the number and extent of floods this year seem unusual in the context of recent decades, it is my understanding that the extent to which it is actually unusual has not yet been scientifically established.”

Minister Husic congratulated the newest Superstars of STEM on stepping into the public arena to help inspire the next generations of diverse young Australians into STEM.

“The need to boost diversity in our science, technology, engineering and mathematics sector is urgent,” he said.

“There are huge skills shortages that can be addressed if we put our minds and collective effort to it – which means we have to draw deeply on our nation’s expertise from all corners of the community.”

“By doing so, we can deliver a stellar boost to our national economy and enable Australia to meet the growing demand for STEM-trained workers.”

“I’ve always been a fan of the way the Superstars of STEM program pushes to deliver a diverse STEM workforce and ensures the next generation of scientists and technologists have visible role models.”

“I just know these talented experts and communicators will play their part inspiring Australia’s young people – from all backgrounds – into science and technology.”

Science & Technology Australia Chief Executive Officer Misha Schubert said the program gave women and non-binary talent in STEM crucial skills and confidence to step into expert commentary roles in the media.

“We know it’s really hard to be what you can’t see,” she said. “That’s why this game-changing program is helping to smash stereotypes of what a scientist, technologist, engineer or mathematician looks like.”

“By becoming highly visible role models in the media, these Superstars of STEM are showing our diverse next generations of young people – especially our girls and non-binary kids – that STEM is for them.”

“Superstars of STEM is powerfully shifting the dial on diversity in Australia’s science and technology sectors. The Australian Government’s investment in this world-leading program is bolstering diversity in a sector that will shape our future economy. We are so grateful for it.”

Superstars of STEM is an initiative of Science & Technology Australia funded by the Australian Government’s Department of Industry, Science and Resources The next 60 Superstars of STEM will join the program in 2023 and 2024.

Through a highly competitive selection process, the program selects 60 women and non-binary STEM experts and gives them the training, confidence, networks and experience to become sought-after media commentators as experts in their fields.

About Science & Technology Australia
Science & Technology Australia is the nation’s peak body representing more than 105,000 scientists and technologists. We’re the leading policy voice on science and technology. Our  flagship programs include
Science Meets Parliament, Superstars of STEM, and STA STEM Ambassadors