Inclusive science showcase

Highlighting how Science can create equitable and inclusive communities.

Animated figures

In collaboration with UNSW staff and students, the Lived Experiences project team co-designed and developed the 2023 UNSW Inclusive Science Showcase project. This project aims to increase awareness of diversity by showcasing how Science can create equitable and inclusive communities. This project displays overviews of a UNSW scientist’s research or teaching work, highlighting why the work is important and how it contributes to more equitable and inclusive communities along with comissioned illustrative inperpretations of their work.

  • Artist: Christine Le

    Australia has hundreds of STEM equity programs that seek to address inequities in STEM, but are they working? To answer this question, Dr Isabelle Kingsley, Research Associate at the Office of the Women in STEM Ambassador, created the STEM Equity Evaulation Portal. The Portal is a user friendly, practical resource to help STEM equity program leaders evaluate their programs. It breaks evaluation down into a simple, five step approach. The Portal is also a searchable repository to discover program evaluations and learn from others.

    Artist's Note: The deisgn depicts a portal to an equitble workplace, reflecting diversity and positivity within the STEM fields.

  • Artist: Aaron Kennedy UNSW

    Drinking water quality remains a persistent challenge across regional and remote Australia, especially in Aboriginal communities, where access to clean drinking water is limited and traditional water purification treatment can be unafforable. Contributing to the UN Sustainable Development Goals - 2030 of Clean water and sanitation, our team develops graphene-based membranes and prototypes which have been shown to be effective at removing contaminants and Natural Organic Matter (NOM) from water to an exceptional level.

    Artist's Note: This design adapts the shape of graphene-based membranes and combines the shapes with cultural mark-making to represent the importance of water in connecting communities.

  • Artist: Sophie Whitehead

    The Bush Tucker Trail Revitalisation Project seeks to highlight the beauty and ecological significance of the plants on UNSW campus native to Sydney and the surrounding area. The project has a specific emphasis on the local Indigenous people's heritage and value of the flora including its use in food and traditional medicine. This iniactive is being driven by the Science Sustainability Working Group and key Indigenous partners Uncle Vic and Aunty Barb Simms, Lizzy Mayers from Nura Gili and a tri-faculty consortium with Arts, Design, and Architecture, Science, and Business. The outcomes of this project include rejuventating the trail, replanting new natives, decolonising and updating the language of signs, and developing an app to highlight the trail online. Students across Indigenous Programs and faculties will be engaged to ensure the trail is both informative and insightful.

    Artist's Note: The image used a repeated pattern of various Indigenous flora to lead the eye around the page - similar to a trail map. In an abstract way, the illustraion shows the vibrant and free flowing beauty of culture, Country and wayfinding.

  • Artist: Tom Bell

    Historically, men who have sex with men (MSM) were excluded from donating blood due to concerns surrounding potential transmission of human immunodeficiency virus (HIV). Exclusion policies are being eased or lifted in light of improvement in HIV testing. This research examines the general public's perception of such policy changes. Results show more negative attitudes, anxiety, and disgust, and less gratitude, towards receiving a transfusion of blood donated by a homosexual male donor relative to a heterosexual male donor. These patterns hold even when participants are remindered of rigourous safety testing conducted on donated blood, The question of how to reduce sexual prejudice in this context remains a focus for future research.

    Artist's Note: This image brings donated blood into the clinical sphere, demonstrating the geneoristy of the act of donation and the need for education and research to eliminate the prejudice where it exists.

  • Artist: Christine Le Christine Le

    Torture is a pervasive human rights violation that has severe psychological repercussions, including trauma, yet gold-standard trauma treatments are less effective for torture survivors – with many being conflict-affected, forcibly displaced and from non-Western cultural contexts. This research examines the specific impact of torture on brain functioning using neuroimaging methods. Our results have shown that torture exerts a long-term effect on the functional architecture of the brain, including how brain networks communicate and the brain systems responsible for threat and reward processing, emotion regulation and cognitive control. Our findings are challenging many assumptions about the effect of torture on humans, which allows us to shape new treatment approaches. 

    Artist's Note: This image uses jagged shapes to symbolise acts of violence and a feeling of constant danger and detachment from self and the environment, while the dark patches on the brain represent the neurological impact of torture.

  • Artist: Aaron Kennedy Aaron Kennedy

    Elders and older people are central to the health and wellbeing of Aboriginal communities, through their multiple cultural, caregiving and leadership roles. However, the intergenerational impacts of colonisation and ongoing social marginalisation of Aboriginal peoples have led to inequitable ageing outcomes, including higher rates of dementia. Working in partnership with Aboriginal communities and organisations, this research aims to understand the life course factors – such as early-life experiences, lifelong learning and work opportunities, and chronic health conditions – that contribute to brain health and ageing well. With this information we can support the development of evidenced-based aged care policy; and codesign and implement strategies to support dementia risk reduction and better access to culturally safe and trauma informed dementia care.

    Artist's Notes: This design represents an elder sitting with young fellas teaching knowledge and culture; elders are important to communities and keeping them safe and healthy should be of high priority.

  • Artist: Tom Bell Tom Bell

    Regional and remote communities face a range of different challenges in managing waste and recovering and re-using end-of-life products. These challenges include access to markets for recyclables as well as the distance and conditions of the roads connecting towns with waste facilities. SMaRT Centre MICROfactories™ are an innovative technology designed to transform problematic waste and harness their value, even in remote areas. This model of decentralised manufacturing builds interconnectivity between and across markets, sectors, and logistics networks, enabling decentralised, localised, and regional pathways for innovative waste recycling. These small scale Microfactories® are designed around creating local economies of purpose – such as being able to recycle locally sourced waste glass, textiles and e-waste – which actual helps create a circular economy where regional market participants make up the supply chain, including the end market participants.  

    Artist's Note: This design plays on the 'MICRO'ness of the microfactories. The hands represent the efforts of the small regional communities coming together to enable innovative waste recycling.

  • Artist: Tom Bell Tom Bell

    Historically, people from culturally and linguistically diverse (CALD) backgrounds and Indigenous people have been excluded or mistreated in clinical neuropsychology research. This exclusion and mistreatment results in inadequate cognitive health care in these Australian minorities. Currently, the dementia burden in CALD people is not known, yet this represents ~30% of Australians. Furthermore, clinical trials that test drugs to treat dementia and observational studies on aging are mostly conducted on fluent English speakers and using tests that require excellent knowledge in the English language and associated culture, (e.g., naming test having acorn or confronting items like a noose; speed tests using the English alphabet, lack of memory tests using universally known items). This shortcoming means that current tests are not safe or ethical for use in CALD and Indigenous people as they do not produce an accurate profile of cognitive ability. In addition, there is a critical lack of appropriate normative data, meaning that current tests also produce erroneous rates of cognitive impairment with serious clinical implications (over or under diagnosis of dementia). In my neuropsychology research, I use and contribute to the development of valid and culturally fair tests and norms to better include CALD and Indigenous people. I also work to develop translational pathways that will improve their cognitive health care. 

    Artist's Note: This fractured collage illustrates the divide in communication and perception that can result in skewed results and ineffective treatment.

  • Artist: Tiera Boogaard Tiera Boogaard

    Sex differences have been recognised for decades in many species, including humans. Despite this, studies in males continue to outnumber those in females across almost all areas of biomedical research. Amazingly, this is true even for the study of conditions that are disproportionately prevalent in females. Our research aims to develop sex-specific models of the neurobiological causes of anxiety disorders, which affect 11% of males and almost twice as many females (18%) in a given year. Our research has led to significant innovations in our understanding of anxiety and its treatment. For example, our work showed that uniquely female variables, like menstrual cycle status, use of the hormonal contraceptive pill, and motherhood, significantly influence the success of current gold-standard treatments for anxiety. 

    Artist's Note: This design utilises a Risograph print effect to capture the sex differences in biomedical research. The elements of the image represent key themes, including sex differences in the prevalence and treatment success of anxiety disorders.

  • Artist: Sophie Whitehead Sophie Whitehead

    When people think of Colombia, they think of political corruption and illegal drug trade, but not so much about the scientific contributions made by Colombian scientists. The development of the HPV vaccine and finding the impact zone for the meteorite that vanished dinosaurs from Earth are among the extraordinary breakthroughs in where Colombian scientists have played a vital role. As a Colombian research student, one of my interests is to highlight the role Colombian scientists have played throughout the history of science, engaging with the public through infographics that showcase the inputs and contributions made by Colombian scientists.

    Artist's Note: This image, a typographic representation of the Colombian flag, highlights important achievements made by Colomnian scientists.

  • Artist: Christine Le

    The Science EDI team strives to build an equitable, diverse, and inclusive scientific community by embedding EDI principles and awareness in all aspects of Faculty activities. We work toward attracting, retaining, and supporting students and staff through initiatives such as the Science and Engineering Indigenous Pre-Program, Elevate, Level Up, Momentum, Boost and the Gateway Access Pathway and Program (GAPP). Our team has developed a range of guidelines on inclusive teaching, event inclusivity, and achievement relative to opportunity (ARO).

    We also share perspectives on diversity and inclusion in research and practice through our Inclusive Science Seminar Series and the ExpEDIte newsletter, and work with students to celebrate and raise awareness of diversity, including the Science History Trail project. 

    Artist's Note: This piece celebrates the UNSW Science EDI Team's development and encouragement of a collaborative and diverse environment without barriers.

  • Artist: Tiera Boogaard Tiera Boogaard

    With the goal to create an exceptional learning experience, the teaching team reflected on and addressed student feedback. Due to a feedback lag, though, the changes implemented often only benefit the next cohort. To improve this rather disjointed feedback loop, the teaching team recruited student ambassadors during the teaching delivery period whose regular and organic feedback allowed the instantons redesign of the course delivery strategy. This created a learning experience and impact that catered to individual needs in a relevant and fair manner.

    Artist's Note: This image takes an abstract approach to illustrating a complete feedback loop in an organic cyclic shape, link student ambassadors and their instructor.