Award-winning venom researcher inspires future scientists
Issued: 9 May 2018

One year on from winning the 2017 Queensland Women in STEM Prize People’s Choice Award, UQ PhD student Jordan Debono talks about how the award has opened many doors and allowed her to share her passion for snakes and science to the wider community. Jordan was awarded $5000 towards professional development activities of her choice.

One year on from winning the 2017 Queensland Women in STEM Prize People’s Choice Award, UQ PhD student Jordan Debono talks about how the award has opened many doors and allowed her to share her passion for snakes and science to the wider community. Jordan was awarded $5000 towards professional development activities of her choice.

But it wasn’t just about the prize money. Jordan, whose research involves investigating the effect snake venom has on our blood to help develop new life-changing medicines, said her media career grew overnight and she has spoken to hundreds of Queenslanders about science since winning the award.

At Oxford University: Oxford Venoms Symposium

How did you spend your prize money?

Last year, I was lucky to present at two major conferences in Europe — the International Society of Thrombosis and Haemostasis World Congress held in Berlin and the Oxford Venoms Symposium at Oxford University.

As well, I was able to attend the International Society of Toxinology conference in Hainan, China thanks to additional funding from UQ.

What have you been up to since winning the award?

As well as being invited to many schools to talk about my research all over Queensland, I have become a Wonder of Science Young Science Ambassador, which also allows to me do this through a dedicated program of outreach to schools.

I have been furthering my research by also appearing on podcasts such as UQ Small Change and 4ZZZ digital. As well, I’ve been asked to represent UQ Science in promotional videos as well as study guide covers. This has allowed me to experience other areas of science including science communication, which I have come to really enjoy.

This year I also was a semi-finalist in the 2018 Queensland Famelab. This gave me more opportunities to highlight my research to the general public.

How has the Queensland Women in STEM Prize furthered your career?

After winning such a prestigious award, the media side of my career grew over night. I was contacted for a number of interviews, and was invited to appear on an episode of Scope.

By presenting at three international world congress conferences in all areas of my PhD, I have gained further communication skills as well being able to meet other professionals within my field that I wouldn’t normally have the opportunity to speak with.

This was a massive push in the right direction for my career and has narrowed down possible career paths for post PhD. Having this experience and contacts opens so many doors for the future and also for future collaborations.

What’s next for you?

Finishing my PhD, continuing my involvement in science communication and additional outreach programs, continuing my involvement in media and hopefully narrowing down what I want to do post PhD. This award has brought a lot of attention to my field of research as well as myself, and as a result I’ve come to experience many more opportunities that I didn’t realise were out there.

In addition, it has aided me in winning other awards such as the UQ Faculty of Science PhD Future Superstar Award and has given me the opportunity to become a member of the Faculty of Science Research Committee and School of Biological Sciences Research Committee.

The Queensland Women in STEM prize is a collaboration between the Office of the Queensland Chief Scientist, Office for Women and the World Science Festival Brisbane. This year’s winners were announced in March at World Science Festival.