A University of Southern Queensland child psychologist and plant pathologist have been announced as finalists in the 2020 annual Women in Technology Awards.

Professor Sonja March who works for the School of Psychology and Dr Niloofar Vaghefi, who works for the Centre for Crop Health are among 44 outstanding women recognised through the program in 2020. One of Queensland’s most respected technology industry associations, WiT supports and promotes the achievements of women in the science and technology industries.

Professor March, who is nominated for the Research Leader Science Award, aims to make mental health treatments available to all Australian children and adolescents and has achieved success with over 47,000 online program users seeking to reduce their anxiety. She has secured $5 million in Medical Research Futures Funding to extend her program and to build a new online program that will help those to develop their personalised treatments for depression, anxiety and substance-use problems.

USQ’s Dr Niloofar Vaghefi is nominated for WiT’s Rising Star Science Award. Dr Vaghefi uses DNA-level investigation tools to protect Queensland’s agricultural industries from pathogens that infect food and feed crops, including sorghum and mungbean. She studies pathogenic microorganisms that cause disease on crops, to understand better the genomic mechanisms underlying their biology and evolution, to defeat crop diseases at a paddock level.

WiT President Dr Claudia Giurgiuman said that although 2020 is a challenging year, ‘the show must go on’. “This year has been a year of change for everyone, including WiT, so we decided to create an online celebration to champion the State’s remarkable women in science and technology. Many women are doing amazing work, and these awards are about giving them the recognition they deserve, building support for their work, and inspiring the next generation of leaders by showing what is possible,” she said.

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