New ambassadors connect Parliament to science

SA Tall Poppy of Science Dr Margaret Shanafield is one of 17 new STEM Ambassadors who will meet regularly with their local federal MPs and Senators in 2021 to deepen connections between policymakers and the STEM sector.

Science & Technology Australia’s prestigious STEM Ambassador program – which began in 2019 – pairs science and technology professionals with their local federal MPs and Senators.

Dr Shanafield, a Flinders University senior lecturer senior research fellow at the National Centre for Groundwater Research and Training, is an expert in rivers and water policy. She is a STEM Ambassador to South Australian Senator Rex Patrick.

Dr Shanafield research connections between hydrology and hydrogeology, focusing on understanding how and why Australian rivers start and stop flowing, and where groundwater recharge happens.

“Rivers and streams are the lifeblood of our society. Most Australian rivers and streams flow for only part of the year, yet even these intermittent flows are critical both at the surface and for replenishing our groundwater supplies,” she says.

“Our drying climate and expanding population are changing when and how much our rivers flow and understanding these changes is crucial to managing our water supplies.”

Dr Shanafield, who is a member of the Australian Freshwater Sciences Society, also gives presentations to schools, community groups, and recently established a multi-disciplinary network of Australian scientists on intermittent rivers and has contributed to water policy through multiple panels and committees. She has produced more than 50 publications and secured more than $1 million in competitive funding.

She holds a masters (2004) and PhD (2010) from the University of Nevada Reno, and a bachelors from Northwestern University (2000). She holds an ARC Discovery Early Career Research Award from 2015-19, and is a former Fulbright Fellow.


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College of Science and Engineering National Centre for Groundwater Research and Training