Regional teachers unite to encourage budding rural scientists

27 Sep 2016

University of Queensland researchers hope to spark excitement about medical research among regional school students by inspiring their science teachers.

Teachers from more than 15 regional high schools have united to take part in a week-long research experience in cutting-edge cancer cell biology.

The program is being hosted by the UQ Diamantina Institute and SPARQ-ed at Brisbane’s state-of-the-art Translational Research Institute.

Queensland Chief Scientist Dr Geoff Garrett attended the first day of the event to network with and support the passionate Queensland STEM teachers.

Event coordinator Anne Brant said it is the first time SPARQ-ed has run the immersion program to enhance the professional development of STEM teachers from regional areas.

“Over the week participants will be part of a research project to investigate the effects of two particular drugs on HPV positive cancer cells,” Ms Brant said.

“These teachers don’t often have the opportunity to engage with researchers at the forefront of their fields or to work in specialist laboratories.

Ms Brant said the program aims to keep teachers excited about STEM and to pass on that enthusiasm to their students when they return to the classroom.

“The SPARQ-ed course also gives teachers a better insight into the various professional pathways STEM can offer, and highlights to students that a career in medical research is achievable.”

The Lions Medical Research Foundation provided bursaries to help offset travel and accommodation costs for the teachers from regional and remote areas who participated in SPARQ-ed program.

SPARQ-ed and UQDI hope to arrange a roadshow next year, in an effort to further increase the opportunities for regional and remote teachers and students.

Media: Anne Brant,, +61 7 344 36932, 0439 131 912; Bernadette O’Connor,, +61 7 3365 5118, 0431 533 209.