Engagement, diversity and interdisciplinarity to tackle future challenges

Dr Jessica Melbourne-Thomas1

1CSIRO Oceans & Atmosphere

The future of the Earth and its global population holds significant challenges, particularly with respect to climate change mitigation and adaptation. Indeed, in 2020 we experienced a taste of many of the impacts to come, such as large-scale bushfire events and disruptions associated with the COVID-19 pandemic. Engaging people with science and tackling misinformation will be a key part of findings solutions to the challenges ahead. In this presentation I will discuss approaches to engagement with policy-makers, industry and the general public, including increasing needs for co-design, translation, communication and interpretation of science to tackle complex problems. I will give examples of how inter- and transdisciplinary research approaches can support robust decision-making and will discuss the importance of increased diversity and equity in STEMM to bring novel solutions for addressing future challenges.


Dr Jess Melbourne-Thomas is a Transdisciplinary Researcher and Knowledge Broker with CSIRO Oceans & Atmosphere. Her research background is in mathematical modelling and Antarctic climate change science and she was a Lead Author for the recent IPCC Special Report on the Oceans & Cryosphere in a Changing Climate. Jess co-founded the Homeward Bound project, which took the largest ever all female expedition on a leadership journey to Antarctica in 2016. She was one of Australia’s first 30 Superstars of STEM and was named Tasmania’s Young Tall Poppy of the Year in 2015 for her excellence in research, science communication and policy engagement. Jess was the 2020 Tasmanian Australian of the Year.

About the GSA

The Geological Society of Australia was established as a non-profit organisation in 1952 to promote, advance and support Earth sciences in Australia.

As a broadly based professional society that aims to represent all Earth Science disciplines, the GSA attracts a wide diversity of members working in a similarly broad range of industries.