Name: Blanche D'Anastasi
What is your dream?
I lead an extraordinary program called Deadly Science Getaway, which inspires young Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women to pursue careers that inspire them. My dream for 2017 is to bring Deadly Science to Guthurraguda. My five-year dream is to have annual Getaways in Shark Bay and the Abrolhos Islands, Western Australia; and Orpheus Island, Mt Zero and the Torres Strait Islands in Queensland. My ultimate dream is to empower Indigenous women to lead Getaways with their communities and to inspire the next generation of female Indigenous scientists who will tackle some of the greatest challenges facing humanity.
Tell us a bit about you.
I am passionate, compassionate, driven and obsessed with science, science education and conservation. Currently, I am studying sea snakes as part of my PhD; and a research partner in a new project establishing the first long-term biodiversity monitoring project in the World Heritage-listed Stromatolite Reefs of Hamelin Pool, Western Australia. As a conservationist I have led projects on fisheries sustainability, marine reserves, protection of cassowary and coastal dolphin habitat.
How have you demonstrated commitment?
I have volunteered countless hours to coordinate events and find funding for Deadly Science, as this program has such a positive impact on so many Indigenous youth. I have supported students to meet Indigenous leaders and to come to career days on campus at James Cook University. I want students to continue to feel inspired and connected with science.
What challenges do you face?
The young Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women that we work with at Deadlyl Science always, without exception, bring the desire to learn, have fun, share, laugh and grow. The only ingredient missing and the undeniable challenge we consistently face, is funding. At present, I am securing funding on a trip-by-trip basis, which hampers long-term planning. My challenge is to secure program partners who will give a multi-year commitment to funding Deadly Science Getaway.
How will you use the money?
The Aim for the Stars grant will be used to cover airfares, meals and my wages associated with leading the first Guthurraguda Deadly Science Getaway, where 30 Indigenous girls in high school will come to Hamelin Pool Nature Reserve for four days to explore science and career pathways.
How do you plan to give back?
I, and my Deadly Science team, will give back to communities by genuinely empowering Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women to pursue careers that inspire them and support them to grow into strong and confident leaders. I will give talks at every opportunity and encourage Deadly Science graduates to share their stories. I will also work closely with the media to document the Deadly Science story in a professional and inspirational way, through television, print and radio stories.