One of 60 ambassadors tasked with promoting gender equity in STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) is Dr. Devika Kamath, an Astrophysicist and Lecturer in Astronomy & Astrophysics at Macquarie University, Australia. She is internationally recognised for her work on observational studies of dying stars and their implications on the origin of elements in the Universe.
Science and Technology Australia (STA), a technology body wants to break through gender stereotypes and encourage more women to consider science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) degrees through its ‘Superstars of STEM’ program. To achieve that, STA shortlisted 60 Australian female scientists as role models.
As a child, her evenings included spending hours with her grandfather, pretending to navigate through oceans using the night sky, a sextant, and a telescope. Fascinated by stars, she decided to become an astronomer at the age of 13. On winning the International Postgraduate Research Scholarship, she left Coimbatore in the Souther India of Tamil Nadu, to pursue a Ph.D. (2013, Australian National University), where she pioneered a hunt for rare stellar fossils; dying stars.
This provided a gateway to reconstruct the life of stars and investigate their evolution and alchemy. During her postdoctoral research fellowship (Katholieke Universiteit Leuven, Belgium), her discovery of a new class of stars proved that the evolution of stars in our Universe is more diverse and complex than what standard theories predicted.
In early 2019, Dr. Kamath has awarded the prestigious Australian Research Council DECRA fellowship to further develop her research. She has produced over 50 scientific publications and won competitive access to telescopes around the world, for an in-kind value of more than a million Australian Dollars. Alongside her research, she is actively involved in student training and outreach programmes which benefit Australia’s STEM community.