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Devika Kamath wins NSW Community Outreach to Physics Award

3 Nov 2022 9:21 AM | Anonymous
In recognition of outstanding achievements in community outreach to physics, the AIP NSW Branch congratulates Dr Devika Kamath, Senior Lecturer in Astronomy and Astrophysics, Macquarie University on winning the 2022 NSW Community Outreach to Physics Award.

About Devika's work:

Dr Devika Kamath is a Stellar Astrophysicist and a Senior Lecturer at Macquarie University (MQ). She is internationally recognised for her work on observational studies of dying stars and was awarded the ARC DECRA fellowship (2019) for tackling a long-standing question in astrophysics: ‘How are chemical elements in the Universe produced?’. Devika is a vigorous leader in STEM outreach who uses her research and physics background as a pathfinder to encourage young people into STEM careers.

Her outreach activities are interdisciplinary and focus on various age groups. They are based not only on her research (e.g., “Romancing the Stars”, Live for Vivid Sydney – ABC Ockham’s Razor 2019; The night sky with Sydney Observatory 2019-present) but also on fields such as modern physics (e.g., her piece on “How time is relative” for ABC Science 2020, 626K views), and big-data-sciences (e.g., her involvement as panellist for the Big-Data-Science webinar for Australasian Leadership Computing Symposium).

When events such as Vivid Sydney and National Science Week were compromised due to COVID (2020/2021), Devika initiated “MQ Space Travels” - a new Live Streaming Series intertwining astronomy with state-of-the art technology and story-telling. This event not only engaged the community, locally and globally, but also provided students with experience in science communication and outreach, reflecting on Devika’s inclination for mentoring and promoting students.

Physics and astrophysics struggle to advance gender and cultural equity. Devika has made notable impacts by leveraging her research to improve student uptake of STEM subjects via dedicated outreach and mentoring events targeted at primary/high school students. One of her initiatives includes designing (from scratch) a collaboration with the Girls’ Day by Goethe- Institut-Australien (years:7,8), which provides students from several schools in NSW with the opportunity to visit MQ for one day to ‘experience University’ and research oriented- STEM activities, and to interact with female STEM leaders.

She also strives to bring a taste of ‘university’ to regional areas by engaging with students and families from low socio-economic backgrounds. A highlight includes her lead role in the NSW Upper Hunter Region roadshow (Nov 2019), where they engaged with ~1000 people over five days, including students, teachers, parents, the community and local politicians. Devika has established connections with Aurora College – the NSW Department of Education’s virtual school, providing students in rural and remote communities with the opportunity to connect locally and learn globally. A highlight includes 5 Aurora College Masterclasses in Astronomy and Astrophysics (May 2021, years:7-12).

Currently, as a 2022 Sydney Observatory Resident (one of the 8 out of ~110 applicants), Devika has initiated a new project: ‘Seeing Our Universe Through Cultural Lenses’, which brings to the forefront modern scientific breakthroughs in astronomy and astrophysics that hold interesting nexuses to ancient cultures. Outcomes will be presented through talks and visual mediums, thereby celebrating cultural diversity in science.

The above represents only a fraction of her dedication to outreach and community engagement. Her passion for her subject is instantly apparent in every presentation she delivers. Young women (and men) considering science careers could not have a stronger role model.

Dr Devika Kamath contributions and passion for physics makes her a very worthy recipient of the 2022 NSW Community Outreach to Physics Award from the New South Wales Branch of the Australian Institute of Physics.

The award will be presented on 8 November at the 2022 NSW AIP Awards Ceremony

All are welcome to attend: 

Date: Tuesday 8 November 2022

Venue: Concord Golf Club, 190 Majors Bay Road Concord, NSW

Postgraduate Nominee presentations from 10.00am

Presentation of Postgraduate Award winner, Royal Society of NSW Jak Kelly Prize, and Community Outreach to Physics Award from 1.00pm

This event is proudly sponsored by the Australian Institute of Physics NSW Branch, The Royal Australian Chemical Institute and The Royal Society of New South Wales.

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