Share Your Story Session video summaries

Dr Asher Riaz is a data scientist at the University of Tasmania. Firstly, Asher talks about the challenges he faced while studying in Germany for his Master’s degree: language barriers, struggles with new programming languages, homesickness, cultural differences. Asher then faced new challenges while studying for his PhD in Australia: a new research culture, feeling suppressed and looked down on. However, Asher opened up and found support through his research community and managed to solve the problems he was facing. Asher feels very lucky and fortunate in his career to have travelled all seven continents for research and international scientific conferences.

Dr Colin Winsor is the Principal Consultant at Applied Structural Geological Analysis. Colin tells his incredibly moving and inspiring story of suffering a severe brain injury from a car accident while on a GSA excursion in 1978. Although pronounced brain dead, Colin survived the trauma and resumed his PhD studies 6 months later. Colin experienced many residual disabilities from the accident: memory loss, double vision, and an impaired gait. With help from his wife Deidre, his PhD supervisor Tim Bell and staff at Adelaide University, Colin was awarded his PhD in 1984. Despite facing extended periods of unemployment due to industry downturns, Colin has worked for exploration companies, undertaken multiple post-doc positions, and later established a consulting business.

Dr Brooke Johnson is a lecturer in Earth Science at the University of Oxford. Brooke describes the challenges he has faced throughout his education to become a geologist while having a working-class background: discouragement from science at an early age; being diagnosed with learning difficulties while at university; financial struggles; social isolation; and rejection from job applications while feeling pressure to publish.

Martin Griffin is a UK-based Geological Engineer who is neurodivergent, autistic and visually impaired. His presentation is about disability, ableism and mental health in the geoscience community and society at large.

Dr Anna Petts is a geoscientist at the Geological Survey of South Australia and is program coordinator for Characterising South Australia’s Cover. Anna undertook a PhD in regolith geochemistry and mapping and has previously worked both in industry and in academia. Anna talks about the people who have inspired her throughout her career, particularly women geoscientists with families and early women in geosciences who had less opportunities and recognition. Anna wants to help people and be a role model for others in geoscience who want to raise a family while having a career in geoscience.

Nicole Doucette started off in mineral engineering and ended up in podcasting and writing. Nicole shares her experience coming out as queer while working in her first job as a ventilation technician in a northern Ontario mine. Nicole felt alone and like she did not belong. She quit after 2 months because of the deterioration of her mental health. Following this, Nicole soon discovered that many people also had bad experiences in the mining industry. She was the co-host of the Discovery to Recovery podcast series and is the producer of the DYNOmine podcast which presents stories from underrepresented communities in mining & geology. Nicole talks about translating lived experiences and why it matters.

A/Prof Caroline Tiddy is an Associate Professor in Geosciences at the Future Industries Institute at the University of South Australia and Key Researcher/Education and Training Coordinator within MinEx CRC. Caroline tells her story of growing up in country Victoria and later realising the lack of diversity she had seen before she went to University. She challenged her thinking around diversity and became involved in a project on gender diversity within geosciences, on which her presentation at this conference is based.

Dr. Jessica Stromberg is a Canadian research scientist at CSIRO Mineral Resources with a PhD in Geology and Planetary Science. From biochemistry, to astrobiology, to ore deposit geochemistry, Jessica’s curiosity has led her into a broad range of subjects in her progression from University to her current position. Jessica also has a passion for diversity and inclusion to improve representation and inclusion of untapped populations in the geosciences.

Dr Sandra Villacorta grew up and studied in Peru and is now a Research Fellow at Charles Darwin University. She found studying geology in Peru very challenging, as the university she attended was labelled as “only for men”. Sandra travelled to Madrid for her Masters and PhD studies from 2006 to 2018. During that time, her biggest challenge was being a single mother and balancing her professional and personal life. While studying, Sandra worked in the mining sector, producing tools and methodologies to research disaster prevention in the Western Andes Range. She found it difficult as a woman to deal with harassment and disdain from her colleagues.

Susan Lomas is the president of the Me Too Mining Association and talks about building and supporting Safe, Inclusive and Respectful workplaces through workplace Allies and Active bystander strategies. She discusses the various challenges faced by everyone in academia and the earth sciences workforce and focusses on potential solutions. She highlights the importance of actions to collectively ensure the workplace is a respectable one for all workers.


Emily Smyk and Nathaly Guerrero Ramirez (University of Tasmania): Emily Smyk is a PhD researcher at the University of Tasmania specialising on porphyry Cu deposits. Her career spans across a wide spectrum including hospitality, industry, and academia. Nathaly is a Master’s researcher at the University of Tasmania specialising in Geometallurgy. She has worked as an engineering geologist, exploration geologist and has experience in cartography.

Emily and Nathy talk about their journey in Earth Sciences starting with what fascinated them most about geology. They both share their experiences as exploration geologists and the difficult circumstances they have had to deal with in this regard. The discussion centred around the various challenges faced by women in exploration geology. Their stories definitely inspire me (Indrani) and will inspire others too. Their stories tell us of their incredible grit and resilience in their journeys so far.

Suzy Urbaniak (CoRE Learning Foundation): Suzy talks about her incredible journey in Earth Sciences, sharing with us all the challenges and rewards along the way. She emphasises on the importance of inspiring people to pursue geology in order to understand Earth better, so we can take care of Earth better. She discusses problems faced owing to her gender in the mining world and potential solutions that may prevent others from going through what she did. She is an advocate for reformational learning at schools that involves students being out there solving practical challenges in the real world rather than conventional textbook learning. Suzy also strongly values the importance of indigenous knowledge in science and society.

Associate Prof. Sebastien Meffre (University of Tasmania): Seb talks about his upbringing and his experience as a young immigrant in Australia. He also talks about his source of inspiration and what fascinates him most about geology. He strongly emphasises the need to inculcate diversity in the workplace and the society in general.

Izzy von Lichtan (University of Tasmania): Izzy is a geologist, geology curator and lecturer, kite flyer and prop builder! She talks about her versatile career and the goods and bads that come with it. Izzy draws attention to the discrimination faced by people in the LGBTQ+ community and shares some of her own personal ordeals. She believes the wider community must acknowledge and respect that people are and can be different to one another. Until such time, minority groups will continue to face difficult circumstances undeservedly. Izzy is a source of inspiration for me (Indrani).

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.