Australian Science Superheroes – Maggie Hardy
During National Science Week in August 2016, Australia’s Chief Scientist launched the #5ScientistPledge to recognise Australian Scientists. Now, we’re shining a light on some of these Australian science superheroes with a new tag – #AusScienceHeroes.
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1) What is your science superpower?
My superpower is separating the useful compounds in natural products from the ones that aren’t active. At the moment, my research is focused on finding new, environmentally-friendly insecticides from spider venoms. I work mostly with funnel-web spiders and tarantulas.
2) The year is 2030. How has life changed as a result of your research?
Insects cause direct damage and sometimes transmit diseases to humans and animals. My research has made it easier for farmers, pet owners, and wildlife carers to manage pest insects safely, and look after the environment. I’ve also helped to make STEM more inclusive.
3) What drew you to science in the first place?
When I was twelve, I started volunteering with the local aquarium. From there, it was a short trip to working with insects, focusing on biochemistry, and now to spider venoms. Chemistry requires a balance of theoretical and technical skills, and I enjoy working with my hands – that includes milking funnel-web spiders!
4) When you’re not wearing your science superhero cape, what do you get up to?
I have three children under five, including a set of twins, so balancing the demands of parenting and science takes up most of my time at the moment! I serve on the Board of the Tech Girls Movement Foundation, and the Executive Advisory Research Panel for child protection non-profit Bravehearts.