BIO and Beyond



Hosted by The University of Sydney and Women NSW for NSW Women’s Week 2020, the BIO and Beyond Student Challenge builds on the BIO Challenge by delving deeper into the bioengineering design principles that make up the foundations of scientific research and innovation.

The aim of the event was to encourage young women to consider careers in STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics). Taking part in the Student Challenge were four teams from Sydney Girls High School and Presbyterian Ladies’ College, Sydney, who were paired with academic mentors to design solutions for challenges in human health and the built environment.

Students from regional areas of Armidale and Uralla travelled to Sydney, many for the first time, to participate as audience members.



“You can do anything you set your mind to, don’t lose sight of that.”
— The Hon. Bronnie Taylor MLC, Minister for Women

BIO and Beyond took place on 2nd of March, 2020 at the Sybil Centre (part of The University of Sydney’s Women’s College). Students in Years 10-12  from across NSW were invited to participate as audience members. This offered them a chance to be enlightened by the opportunities that a career in STEM has to offer and to empower them to recognise their own potential as bright future leaders.

The day was hosted by students from Merewether High School, winners of BIO Challenge 2019, who also spoke about their journey in developing their Universal Transdermal Patch. Opening the event was Prof. Duncan Ivison, Deputy Vice Chancellor of Research at The University of Sydney, while the Hon. Bronnie Taylor MLC, Minister for Women, provided the closing remarks.

Students were also inspired by the incredible work presented some of our most eminent researchers. These included Prof. Maria Kavallaris, a children’s cancer researcher and the 2020 NSW Premier’s Woman of the Year, Prof. Emad El-Omar, who studies gut bacteria and Prof. Kathy Belov, known for her work on Tasmanian Devil facial tumours.

Finally, our teams from SGHS and PLC enlightened us with the incredible work they achieved with their mentors. Here are the topics presented on:

A biodegradable cardiac patch for treating heart attacks

Nanoparticle-based treatments for iron-deficient anaemia

A medical kit for detecting and treating snake bites

A carbon neutral, environmentally sustainable house


Media & Gallery

Our student audience really enjoyed hearing the range of fascinating talks – here’s what some of our visiting regional students had to say!

I was part of a group of students from Uralla who had the chance to visit Sydney for BIO and Beyond. On the day of the conference, the girls from Sydney High School gave a presentation on snake bites. This was interesting because the text results of the venom test show you where you can go to get the anti-venom. Being from the country I will remember this. Professor Omad El-Omar’s presentation was also very interesting, but I’m not sure how I feel about the poo-pills (FMT).

I liked the second day because we got to explore Sydney. The visit to the Royal Botanic gardens was my favourite. I liked all the different kinds of plants, I had never seen anything like this before. My favourite exhibit was the Plants That Bite – the calyx looked cool, but I wish I could have touched them. I liked getting to know students form PLC and Sydney Girls High – I made quite a few new friends.

Thank you so much for this awesome opportunity, I never thought I would get a chance to do something like this.

Bukari Campbell

Uralla Central School

It was along ride down to Sydney and back again, but we didn’t mind because we were just pleased our school had the chance to be part of the day. It was an amazing experience, we all loved it. All of the groups there did a really good job with their presentations. It was really lovely meeting all the people there, and the ones we became really good friends with. It was so fun and has definitely changed a bit of my thoughts on what I want to be when I finish school. Thank you so much for letting us be part of the event. You really outdid yourselves, it was super amazing, just fantastic. I loved the chance to go to the Royal Botanic Gardens, it was a great idea to go and see all the different plants. Learning about them was really good. 

Everything in this trip was amazing. The hotel we stayed at was awesome, we were so happy when we found out we had our own rooms. We loved being able to chill out after a long but interesting day. It was so good, there was no stress all day, except having to get up early morning but we didn’t really care. All of us really hope we get more chances like this. We really enjoyed ourselves and we hope to see you all again sometime soon.

Hollie Buhagiar

Uralla Central School

Women NSW

More photos of the event from Women NSW's Facebook page.​