Meet 5 female STEM superstars making a difference

To celebrate International Day of Women and Girls in Science on 11 February 2023, we feature women scientists in the Science, Economics and Insights Division addressing the biggest environmental challenges facing New South Wales today and in the future.

Women in Science

Celebrating the women who have followed their passion into science and research careers, the Department of Planning and Environment (Environment and Heritage Group) profiles a few of the many women scientists and researchers within the NSW Government who innovate, demonstrate, elevate, advance and sustain our communities through science, reflecting this year's United Nations theme for the International Day of Women and Girls in Science on 11 February 2023.

Laura BabianLaura has moved from managing individual projects to a team of about 65 staff across the state in her current role as Director of the Conservation and Restoration Science Branch. The team helps ensure the NSW Government creates better environmental outcomes for current and future generations. It is this desire to serve the NSW community, which drives Laura.

Find out her vision and how she learnt to be an inspirational leader in her field

Dr Janina BeyerDr Janina Beyer may have started her career as a fish biologist, but after diverse scientific roles, she's found her passion in assessing the impacts of mining. She enjoys strategic thinking in chemical risk assessment, particularly when it comes to emerging contaminants.

She leverages and integrates her expertise across teams to develop and drive new opportunities and partnerships to protect the environment and the people of New South Wales from harmful chemicals. Some of her more memorable collaborations include when she developed national guidance for managing a group of poisonous chemicals called Perfluoroalkyl and Polyfluoroalkyl Substances (PFAS).

Janina hopes to see rising numbers of women in science with access to leadership programs and discussions with people of all genders.

Find out more about Janina’s diverse career

Dr Megan McNellieData analysis expert Dr Megan McNellie has been pursuing better environmental outcomes by modelling plant data. She trains computer models to analyse vegetation data to help understand where plants could be protected for better biodiversity outcomes.

She loves finding these 'points of truth' on the whereabouts and health of vegetation, using artificial neural networks.

Find out how Megan combines data and ecology at work

Dr Natasha RobinsonDr Natasha Robinson is a Principal Scientist in the Conservation and Restoration Science Branch. She has global connections and has done inspiring work to lead conservation science, even going so far as to throw into the mix a stand-up comedy gig about climate change, quolls and other things. She manages a team looking after the research to support the Saving our Species Program. This program is one of the biggest conservation commitments ever undertaken in New South Wales.

Right now, she's focused on how gliding marsupials respond to fires, working with department staff and Aboriginal communities to build and share knowledge and skills.

Find out how Natasha's research has opened a world of possibilities

Nicky WartonNicky Warton is an environmental scientist who has undertaken research in beach safety education (including studying the reality TV show Bondi Rescue), worked as an environmental consultant and now enjoys facilitating partnerships between internal and external environmental researchers.

Her family holidays around Australia, learning fun geographical and environmental facts along the way, sparked Nicky's fascination and passion for the Australian environment. The former environmental consultant chose to move into government after seeing how important policy is on influencing environmental management and conservation.

Find out about Nicky’s science career journey