ICRAR is thrilled to announce a new scholarship for women, Aboriginal and Torrest Strait Islanders studying astronomy and astrophysics at The University of Western Australia (UWA).
The scholarship is open to domestic students who have applied for a place to commence a Master of Physics degree course with a specialisation in Astronomy and Astrophysics. They will also need to have a staff member from the International Centre for Radio Astronomy Research (ICRAR) as the primary supervisor of their research project component. Applicants will receive a total of $10,000.
The scholarship is named for Dr Renu Sharma, ICRAR’s Chief Operating Officer and Director of Translation and Impact.
A/Prof Elisabete Da Cunha, chair of the ICRAR/UWA DEI (Diversity, Equity & Inclusion) committee, said the scholarship was an important step towards enhancing the diversity of ICRAR’s student cohort.
“We are delighted to see this named after Dr Sharma, who has been a driving force behind DEI initiatives at ICRAR since its inception — it is an immensely well-deserved recognition of her work,” A/Prof da Cunha said.
Dr Sharma said she was “deeply humbled but very pleased” to see the scholarship established.
“ICRAR’s commitment to encourage and support participation of women and Indigenous students in astronomy and astrophysics is exemplary,” Dr Sharma said.
“I look forward to seeing more girls and Indigenous students at ICRAR.”
Dr Sharma joined ICRAR in 2009 as a founding Executive team member and since then has been responsible for leading ICRAR’s management, reporting, and compliance requirements and building a supportive organisational culture. She has been committed to ensuring diversity, equity, and inclusion at ICRAR and has enabled creation of an inclusive environment that enables growth and supports the dignity of all. She successfully launched the ‘ICRAR visiting fellowship for senior women in astronomy’ which has attracted national and international female role-model astronomers to ICRAR since 2015. Dr Sharma’s commitment has contributed to ICRAR’s recognition for its excellence in diversity, equity, and inclusion practices, winning the Bronze in 2015, Silver in 2017, and Gold in 2019, 2021 and 2023 at the Astronomical Society for Astronomy’s Pleiades awards.
She has worked with academic and administrative leadership across universities, State and Federal Government and with the Square Kilometre Array (SKA) project. She has held several senior management roles, including serving as a member of the Vice Chancellor’s Equity and Diversity Committee, Equity and Diversity Advisor, and Chair of Culturally and Linguistically Diverse Working Group.
Outside of her work, Dr Sharma is passionate about writing poetry in Hindi, she is a Trustee of Hindi Samaj of WA (2023-25), a radio presenter at the 95.3 EBA and has been recognised by Indian Society of WA for her personal excellence in 2017, by Hindu Council of Australia in 2023 by Gargi Award for her contributions. In 2024, she featured in a coffee table book featuring 50 inspiring Indo-Australian women who made a difference.
Applications for the inaugural Renu Sharma Scholarship are now open, and close on March 31st 2024.