Inspiring girls in STEM

Kyi Muller is the program director of Curious Minds, a new program for girls in science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM).

We meet Kyi as she prepares to deliver a three-day residential camp that aims to support and encourage young women’s passion in STEM.

Tell us a little bit about yourself.

I grew up on the Sunshine Coast and moved to Canberra to complete my secondary schooling, during which time I traveled extensively in Asia and my love for marine biology was founded.

After Year 12, I studied Marine Biology and Zoology at James Cook University where I received a first class honours degree and was awarded the final year prize for Zoology.

Following my degree, I was fortunate to work in academic research on a range of projects from minke whales, to triggerfish in Papua New Guinea and eventually on a fishing project on the Great Barrier Reef. I was, however, eager to continue my academic studies and travel.

It was not long until I was awarded a PhD scholarship to work on grey seals in Scotland and I spent the next three years working at Cambridge University and St Andrews University in the UK.

My PhD focused on the molecular ecology of grey seals in Scotland and attempted to untangle the role of mate choice in maintaining genetic diversity and its implications for disease susceptibility.

After too much time spent in labs and cold Scottish Islands, I moved to Italy for a year and then back to the UK where I worked in fundraising and eventually as a senior biology teacher and boarding housemistress.

Now back in Australia, I continue to work as a senior science teacher in Melbourne.

What drew you to Curious Minds?

Opportunities that engage and support young people to pursue their love of STEM or even to help better understand what STEM entails, help to strengthen Australia’s future workforce and standing in the international community.

Why should we be encouraging young women to get involved in STEM?

STEM-related careers and opportunities are becoming ever more important in the workforce as non-traditional employers of STEM graduates recognise the value and skills set that staff with this type of background have.

Women are well placed to make their mark in this setting and can bring not only strong academic credentials with them but other skills such as teamwork, collaboration and flexibility in approach.

What are you most looking forward to as program director?

Curious Minds is a great opportunity to work with a range of staff and students each of whom will bring a range of stories and experiences with them.

It is exciting to see what people have done in their lives and what pathways and opportunities have arisen from what they do, and I hope that the girls will gain inspiration and reassurance that STEM can lead to wonderful and exciting career paths. Taking students on this journey and helping to support young women to find their own path in STEM is extremely rewarding.

What kind of student do you hope will get involved?

Involvement in any program is always about passion and a love for the things you study. I hope the girls taking part will be passionate for their favourite STEM subject, but also be willing to be open-minded about learning new things and meeting new people.

More information about Curious Minds. 

Curious Minds is funded by the Australian Government Department of Education and Training through the Restoring the Focus on STEM program (initiative) and the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet. The program will be particularly targeted towards girls from underrepresented groups such as disadvantaged, rural/remote and Indigenous.

Curious Minds is a jointly administered by the Australian Mathematics Trust and Australian Science Innovations. Together these organisations reach thousands of talented students and involve hundreds of committed teachers and schools in the Science and Mathematics Olympiad Programs.