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Creating a better environment through STEM

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Many women in STEM know what it feels like to be in the minority and for Shahjadi Hisan Farjana this is certainly the case. Studying engineering in Bangladesh she was one of only eight women in a cohort of 112 men. However Farjana (her preferred name) was undeterred, as her life-long passion was to use her engineering knowledge to improve the world around her.

When her studies led her to Australia, and the Department of Engineering at Macquarie University, Farjana decided to focus her research on the impacts of the country’s large mining sector. With her expertise and interest in renewable energy, Farjana could see that even small changes to the way mines operated could make a significant difference.

The first step for Farjana is to research and fully understand the life cycle environmental impacts caused by mineral processing and extraction routes. As a result, the bulk of Farjana’s current work involves the analysing of data, with a view to reducing overall carbon dioxide emissions.

For Australia, which has over 400 mines, this research has a real sense of urgency. With harmful emissions significantly affecting human health and the environment, reducing this impact is a high priority for both the mining industry and the government.

Farjana is currently focused on developing ways for mines to limit emissions by integrating the appropriate solar thermal system. Her goal is to reduce emissions by 10% to 20% in the Australian scenarios she is studying. Farjana’s research will be completed by 2019 and feeds into the Australian Government’s own pledge to aim towards a sustainable, zero-carbon manufacturing world.

As a country with a wealth of natural resources, and therefore high production, this research is vital for a sustainable future. The good news is that Australia is leading the world in this field and Farjana is excited about the potential of her research to help both our country and others around the globe. She also anticipates that the technology in these renewable energy systems, can be applied to other manufacturing industries including agriculture and food production.

For Farjana her hopes for the future are two-fold - that Australia can truly achieve a zero-carbon future and that more young girls will feel confident enough to follow her example and pursue a career in STEM.

If she is awarded the travel grant, Farjana hopes to attend two conferences in France and Switzerland in 2018, including the 7th International Conference on Clean and Green Energy and the Gordon Research Conference.

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