Georgina Sweet Awards 2020 – Applications now open

The awards, which have opened in the lead-up to International Women in Maths Day, recognise the contributions of Australian female researchers to the field of quantitative biomedical science.

"I like crossing the imaginary boundaries people set up between different fields – it's very refreshing. There are a lot of tools, and you don't know which one would work. It's about being optimistic and trying to connect things."

- Dr Maryam Mirzakhani 
First woman to win the Fields Medal, the highest honour in mathematics

The Georgina Sweet Awards for Women in Quantitative Biomedical Science were created by Professor Leann Tilley as part of her Australian Research Council Laureate Fellowship program to promote and support female scientists who demonstrate excellence in the area of quantitative biomedical science.

Prof. Leann Tilley with students at microscope

Quantitative biomedical science is biological or biomedical research that employs a quantitative approach, such as in the areas of computational biology, biophysics, bioinformatics, biochemistry, genomics, structural biology and cell biology.

With International Women in Maths Day approaching on 12 May, the awards are particularly pertinent. Like Professor Tilley, the day aims to celebrate women's contributions to the field and encourage a diverse, inclusive and welcoming academic work environment.

It is also an opportunity to remember the achievements of talented and inspiring women who have broken the ground for increased diversity in STEMM. Katherine Johnson, whose story was featured in the 2016 film Hidden Figures, helped to send the first astronauts into space through her work at NASA. Likewise, Iranian-born Dr Maryam Mirzakhan, the first woman to receive the prestigious Fields Medal, has helped to solve some of the most daunting mathematical problems in recent history.

While the number of women pursuing careers in STEMM is improving, women are still severely under-represented in executive and senior academic roles. According to the most recent data, only 20.6% of Level E senior professor roles are held by women.

"We will always have STEM with us. Some things will drop out of the public eye and will go away, but there will always be science, engineering and technology. And there will always, always be mathematics."

- Katherine Johnson
Mathematician at NASA, whose work helped send the first astronauts into space

According to Professor Tilley, women's roles in these emerging and innovative areas are now more important than ever.

"I believe that solving the major medical and biotechnology problems of the twenty-first century – problems such as how to overcome COVID-19 – will require a convergence of the life and physical sciences," Professor Tilley says.

She also sees this as an opportunity to acknowledge and celebrate the benefits diversity can bring to quantitative biomedical science.

"Convergence approaches need diverse inputs from people with different ideas, different perspectives and different backgrounds. I would like more women to be part of the exciting developments in this area."

The Georgina Sweet Awards available in 2020 are detailed below:

Georgina Sweet Award for Women in Quantitative Biomedical Science

Four awards of $25,000 each will be made to Australian female researchers who demonstrate excellence in the area of quantitative biomedical science. Diversity is an essential part of the Award mission and applications are particularly welcome from women of culturally diverse backgrounds.

In 2020, two additional awards of $25,000 each will be made for Excellence in Inclusivity, recognising women in biomedical science who have a strong track record in research and who have demonstrated the importance of inclusion and diversity.

Applications open 1 May until 31 May.

Georgina Sweet Travel Support for a Female Keynote Speaker in Quantitative Biomedical Science

Up to three awards of $3,000 each are available each year to support the attendance of a female keynote speaker at an Australian conference.

Applications are open at any time until awards have been allocated for the year.

Find out more and apply below, or contact

Apply now

Banner image featuring an image of Georgina Sweet on a blue, hexagonal patterned background. The words "2020 Georgina Sweet Awards / For Women in Quantitative Biomedical Science".