With ‘Clean up Australia Day’, ‘Earth Hour’ and ‘International Women’s Day’ all celebrated in March, we thought it would be appropriate to share stories of women at UOW making a positive impact with their environmental research.

We’ve started the month with one of UOW’s women of impact, Prof. Sharon Robinson – a climate change biologist whose research on East Antarctica’s moss beds has taken her to the Antarctic 13 times since the 1990s. These moss beds are among the only plants that can withstand life on the frozen continent but Prof. Robinson’s research has found that these plants are slowly drying and dying - a sad indication of climate change and ozone depletion.

As part of her latest trek to the Antarctic, Prof. Robinson co-led the 2019 ‘On Board Science’ theme of Homeward Bound - a mentoring program to train 1000 women who have an interest in climate change and the future of the planet. The story is a fascinating insight into one of the world’s most extreme environments, and describes how the Homeward Bound program brings together women to lead a transformative and sustainable change toward gender equality.

Our PhD feature for the month is Carrie Wilkinson whose research focuses on the practices and experiences of regional NSW households that use non-mains water sources and infrastructure such as rainwater tanks. Carrie wants to better understand the vulnerabilities and adaptive capacities of households that are self-sufficient for water in a changing climate, and extend these lessons to other contexts such as cities.

We’ll bring you a story on the UOW Janet Cosh Herbarium and how the ancient art of pressing flowers and plants contributes to modern day conservation, research and teaching. And we’ll share some insights into a new subject being offered this year as a result of the disaster recovery research by Dr Christine Eriksen. ‘Disaster Geographies’ focuses on recent events such as Hurricane Katrina and the Black Saturday bushfires, to better understand the social dimensions that underpin vulnerability and resilience of individuals, households and communities.

Finally our first ‘Uni in the Brewery’ towards the end of the month will feature extreme fieldwork from some of our researchers, providing a glimpse into what research life is like, monitoring and collecting data outside a laboratory.

Join us on our social media platforms where we will be posting about other environmental impact stories, such as iAccelerate resident ‘RooCreate’, whose female founder, Suzanne Haddon began the company to revolutionise the package design industry and minimise waste.

Our planet is fragile but with continued research and teaching, environmental monitoring, action and lobbying, we can make a positive impact on our ecosystems for the future.