Committed to supporting emerging female researchers in science

The Faculty of Science is thrilled to celebrate the winners of the inaugural Women in Science Emerging Researcher (WISER) Award.

The WISER Award is open to female researchers who have excelled in their chosen research fields and are emerging leaders in the sector.

One of the most significant challenges for gender equity in science is attrition of female staff within early career stages, often leading to fewer opportunities for women in senior research and leadership roles.

The WISER award supports early or mid-career researchers, providing the awardees with resources to further their growing careers and help retain women in the field.

There will be two awards announced each year, one for researchers working in the Mathematical and Physical Sciences and the other for researchers in the Natural and Health Sciences.

We wish to thank John Haasz for supporting the WISER award in the Mathematical and Physical Sciences.

With several science degrees, Mr Haasz has always had an interest in supporting equality in mathematical and physical sciences.

“A balanced representation of gender across the field provides for better research and a better work environment. It is important that women feel that they have equal standings and opportunities in these fields, especially mathematical and physical sciences. Barriers are starting to be broken, but work needs to be continued to support and encourage women to work across the entire breadth of science,” said Mr Haasz.

The winners of the 2021 WISER Awards are:

Associate Professor Jennifer Flegg, School of Mathematics and Statistics 

portrait of Associate Professor Jennifer FleggJennifer is an Associate Professor in applied mathematics in the School of Mathematics and Statistics at the University of Melbourne. Her research focuses on using mathematics and statistics to answer questions in biology and medicine. In particular, developing mathematical models in areas such as wound healing, tumour growth and infectious disease epidemiology.

In 2009, Jennifer was awarded a PhD in 2009 from Queensland University of Technology on Mathematical modelling of chronic wound healing. Between 2010 – 2013, Jennifer was at the University of Oxford developing mathematical models for the spread of resistance to antimalarial drugs before moving to Monash University. In May 2017, she joined the School of Mathematics and Statistics at the University of Melbourne as a Senior Lecturer in Applied Mathematics and was promoted to Associate Professor in 2020.

Dr Iliana Medina Guzman, School of BioSciences

Dr Iliana Medina Guzman portrait

Iliana is an evolutionary biologist who is continuously fascinated by nature. Her work has taken Iliana to incredible places and has given her the opportunity to interact with amazing creatures including researching South American poison dart frogs, Caribbean lizards, North American birds and Australian birds and insects.

Iliana completed her PhD at the Australian National University focusing on how birds can defend from brood parasites like cuckoos. In 2017 Iliana joined the University of Melbourne as a McKenzie postdoctoral fellow and in 2020 she commenced a position as Lecturer. Her growing team investigates how animal behaviour is linked to the diversity of structures, colours and species that we observe in nature.

The Faculty of Science aspires to be a leader for gender equity in the higher education sector, and the WISER Award is just one of the initiatives developed by the faculty to progress gender equity in the field.