Women Undergraduates Win Defence Scholarships

Five women undergraduates from the University of Adelaide have won scholarships to help them continue their science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM)-related studies.

L-R: Philippa McMurtrie, Olivia Griscti, Alexandra Stephenson, Michelle Wilson, Natasha Moy

Michelle WilsonNatasha Moy, Alexandra Stephenson, Olivia Griscti and Philippa McMurtrie will each receive a Defence Women in STEM Undergraduate Scholarship worth $20,000 over two years.

Michelle Wilson was motivated to take a STEM-related degree as it provides an opportunity to surpass her potential. She’s in her third year of her Bachelor of Engineering (Honours) (Chemical) / Bachelor of Science (Biotechnology).

“Women sometimes hold themselves back from unleashing their full potential, but we have numerous skills to offer,” she said.

Natasha Moy, who is studying a Bachelor of Engineering (Honours) (Mechanical) / Bachelor of Science, said that young women thinking of studying a STEM-related degree should back themselves.

“I think women tend to underestimate their capabilities, but when we trust ourselves, we can achieve a lot,” she said.

Alexandra Stephenson is looking forward to learning more maths and developing her skills to solve interesting and important problems during her Bachelor of Mathematical Sciences (Advanced) / Diploma in Arts, majoring in creative writing.

“I’m really enjoying learning in-depth and challenging mathematics,” she said. “I’ve had the opportunity to apply what I’ve learnt to some really interesting problems, including contemporary issues such as epidemic modelling.”

Olivia Griscti is in the third year of her Bachelor of Engineering (Honours) (Mechanical) / Bachelor of Mathematical and Computer Sciences and is passionate about working in the defence sector.

“I believe it will have a large impact on Australian technology and national security,” she said. “I want to use my degree to work in a team which develops safe and sustainable technological solutions in this area.”

Philippa McMurtrie is studying a Bachelor of Engineering (Honours) (Mechanical).

“I believe that women bring a unique perspective to STEM. We bring diverse life experiences with us, which provides an additional perspective for looking at and solving problems,” she said.

Professor Michael Webb is Director of the Defence and Security Institute (DSI) and Academic Coordinator for Defence, Cyber and Space at the University of Adelaide.

“I congratulate our five high-performing STEM undergraduates for securing these prestigious scholarships. The University of Adelaide educates the brightest minds to excel in their chosen fields and become future leaders,” he said.

“The Defence Women in STEM Undergraduate Scholarships will help these young women find solutions to the challenges facing society including keeping our nation safe.”

The applicants were assessed by a panel of senior defence staff for the scholarships, which aim to help improve the representation of women in the STEM workforce.

Since 2015, the proportion of women enrolled in university STEM fields of education (undergraduate and postgraduate) increased by two per cent. In 2019, more than 81,000 or 36 per cent of people enrolled were women, up from 34 per cent in 2015 (70,000).

The Defence Women in STEM Undergraduate Scholarships are sponsored by the Defence Science and Technology Group (DSTG), the Australian Government’s lead agency responsible for applying science and technology to safeguard Australia and its national interests.