Plant Ecologist, Dr Meena Sritharan, became a STEM Coach with the hopes of being a role model for girls interested in STEM.
Meena remembers her geography teacher as being a role model that inspired her to pursue her passion for science.
My high school geography teacher Ms Robinson was so passionate and kind in her love for geography and the natural world. I think this played a huge role in inspiring me towards a career in science, and being passionate about what I love to do.
After high school, Meena studied at UNSW, and later completed a PhD in plant ecology at ANU. She now works for the NSW Government as a research scientist.
I started a degree in Advanced Science, majoring in ecology and microbiology. I found a love for plants at university which lead me to get a First Class Honours in plant ecology, followed by a PhD in plant ecology.
During my university years, I helped conduct fieldwork across different national parks and vegetation communities which broadened my love for the outdoors and the amazing world of plants. I am now a research scientist for NSW government, working on a variety of plant ecology research projects for threatened species conservation.
Meena joined the Curious Minds program as a STEM Coach with the hopes of being a role model for girls passionate about STEM.
I wanted to become a coach as I believe “seeing what you can be” plays a key role in pursuing our goals, especially as a woman and a woman of colour. I still have yet to see people who look like me in our field and now recognise that I want to be a role model for others to pursue a career that might not seem as fathomable now.
Talking to my students, I came to realise that they had not encountered many women like those in the Curious Minds program, with both asking me (sometimes difficult but needed to be answered) questions on what it was like to be a woman in a STEM field. I appreciate and cherish that experience with some moments I will hold dearly close to my heart.
Being able to support students in their exploration of STEM, has been one of the most rewarding parts of the program for Meena.
I really enjoyed the program a lot. It has been great being able to chat, support and unknowingly inspire students interested in STEM. I really enjoyed the exploration aspect of the project. Being able to work together on an exploration and show my students the many facets of science and their importance in a practical way was both enjoying and inspiring.
I hope it has a positive impact on getting more young female-identifying women pursuing a STEM career.