Dr Renu Sharma Scholarship: Offering $10,000 to Boost STEM Education for Women and Indigenous Students

Dr Sharma, who has a PhD in nematology (roundworms), migrated from India in 2000 with her husband and twins after quitting a prestigious position in the Indian Ministry of Agriculture.

The University of Western Australia (UWA) node of the International Centre for Radio Astronomy Research (ICRAR) has announced the funding of a $10,000 scholarship to encourage high-achieving female and/or indigenous student to undertake Astronomy and Astrophysics specialisation.

The new scholarship has been named after Dr Renu Sharma who has been the Chief Operating Officer of the ICRAR since its establishment in 2009.

Image: Dr Renu Sharma (Source: ICRAR)

Dr Sharma said in a statement that 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. I look forward to seeing more girls and Indigenous students at ICRAR.”

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Dr Sharma, who has a PhD in nematology (roundworms), migrated from India in 2000 with her husband and twins after quitting a prestigious position in the Indian Ministry of Agriculture.

In Australia, she first worked at a TAFE and then took on a position as manager at The University of Western Australia’s School of Physics in 2002.

In 2009, Dr Sharma became a founding executive member of ICRAR and in 2015 help successfully launch the ‘ICRAR Visiting Fellowship for Senior Women in Astronomy’.

Image: Dr Renu Sharma speaking at the ICRAR (Source: ICRAR)

A/Prof Elisabete Da Cunha, chair of the ICRAR/UWA DEI (Diversity, Equity & Inclusion) committee, said in a statement that 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.”

Image: Dr Renu Sharma with External Affairs Minister of India Dr S. Jaishankar (Source: Dr Renu Sharma)

Dr Sharma speaks Hindi, English, Punjabi and Himachal dialect, and is teaching her grandchildren Hindi through a somewhat unusual medium – her own poems!

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.

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Dr Sharma has been the driving force behind ICRAR’s activities in the diversity, equity and inclusion space, with particular emphasis on supporting and empowering women and other under-represented groups in STEM.

Image: Dr Renu Sharma with the Indian High Commissioner to Australia Gopal Baglay (Source: Dr Renu Sharma)

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.

The Dr Renu Sharma 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.

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