Nasa Scientist Inspires Young Women


It is widely acknowledged that Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) careers are male dominated.

Dr Laura Lorenzoni, who works for the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), said worldwide only 30 per cent of researchers are women.

Having recently visited Fiji, Dr Lorenzoni shared her experience with members of the public at the Suva Carnegie Library recently, saying that working in NASA is “absolutely fabulous”.

“It’s not just because I can do what I love to do which is oceanography and ocean research but I can put that in context of the NASA mission which is understanding our planet and making sure that we use the resources wisely,” she said.

“In addition, I can walk down the hall and talk to our colleagues in planetary science and they come up with ideas for research together.” “It’s extremely inspirational to be able to work in a place that is so multi-disciplinary it has so many different opportunities and so many different areas of research that are complementary.”

Dr Lorenzoni works as a program scientist for the Ocean Biology and Biogeochemistry Program (OBB) in the NASA Headquarters Science Mission Directorate.

She is also an Intergovernmental Personnel Act (IPA) detailee from the University of South Florida, College of Marine Science (St. Petersburg, Florida).

She completed her undergraduate in Biology at the Universidad Simon Bolivar (Venezuela), and subsequently earned both her Master’s and PhD degrees in Marine Science at the University of South Florida.

“I attribute some of the success to just being very fortunate of who I’ve been surrounded by,” Dr Lorenzoni said.

“The ingredient to happiness which can lead you to success is doing what you love. So don’t let anyone tell you any differently, find what you’re good at and it doesn’t have to be what people are telling you what you should do because it’s more lucrative.”

Meanwhile, the Minister of Education, Heritage and Arts Rosy Akbar, during the launch of the ‘2019 Science and Engineering Challenge’ held recently, said STEM careers are in demand worldwide.

“Fiji has also recognised this need as we lack skills from the STEM sector to contribute to our growing economy whether they help build roads and bridges, new machinery, analyse data, crunch statistics to help policy makers decide on new policies or create new farming technologies,” Minister Akbar said. “Research confirms that training in STEM serves as a platform to higher-paying jobs and is an important linchpin to a growing economy.”

The Ministry with support from the University of the South Pacific, Fiji National University, Newcastle and the Australian National Universities had pledged to embark on pilot projects to promote STEM subjects this year. 
“In 2020, we will be promoting STEM in our primary schools using basic equipment starting in our remote schools. We are serious about addressing our skills shortage and providing exciting opportunities for our students.”