2024 Recipients

Inspiring South Australian Women Award 2024

Sophie Thomson

Sophie Thomson, renowned for her passion for gardening and the environment, inherited her love from her plant-loving family and their nursery in Adelaide Hills. With over 35 years of hands-on experience, she educates communities on the health and environmental benefits of gardening. Following the 2019 bushfires, Sophie rallied the Kangaroo Island community to establish four community gardens and raised over $100k+ in support. She continues to aid communities affected by natural disasters like floods and fires. Known for her role on ABC TV’s Gardening Australia for over two decades and as a regular on ABC Radio Adelaide, Sophie is also a sought-after public speaker nationally. Her contributions have earned her numerous accolades, including the Pelzer Prize for environmental efforts in 2022 and recognition on the 2023 SA Women’s Honour Roll. Sophie serves on the boards of various organisations, including the South Australian Botanic Gardens and State Herbarium.

Inspiring South Australian Women’s Award – Commendation 2024

Professor Marnie Hughes-Warrington AO

Distinguished Professor Marnie Hughes-Warrington AO, a University of Tasmania graduate and Rhodes Scholar from the University of Oxford exemplifies a commitment to higher education’s transformative power. As Deputy Vice Chancellor at the Australian National University and later at the University of South Australia, she spearheaded initiatives to advance research, diversity, and inclusion in academia. She is passionate about strengthening the South Australian economy and society and supports researchers across disciplines and career stages. Recognised for her contributions, she was appointed an Officer of the Order of Australia in 2022. She received a George Parkin Award in 2023 for her distinguished service to the Rhodes community worldwide. Marnie champions diversity, equity, and inclusion, advocating for greater participation from disadvantaged backgrounds and gender diversity in higher education.

Inspiring South Australian Women’s Award ‘Emerging Leader’ 2024

Isabella Courtney

Isabella, aged 20, founded the PIEA Project to address educational inequity. Through this not-for-profit, she provides free academic support and resources to underprivileged children, aiming to break cycles of disadvantage. Partnering with Puddle Jumpers, the project operates a homework club, offering essential supplies and assistance. Isabella is also a dedicated fundraiser, organising events at Adelaide University, participating in the Adelaide City Plunge, and supporting local charities. Testimonials highlight the program’s positive impact, creating an inclusive and supportive environment for children.

Inspiring South Australian Women’s Award ‘Emerging Leader’ – Commendation 2024

Dr Sarah Scholten

With Dean’s commendation, Sarah received her PhD in Laser Physics from the University of Adelaide in 2019. Her research aims to advance precision measurement using light. She is developing a cutting-edge optical atomic clock that is small enough to launch into space. Sarah is also passionate about making experimental discoveries practical and inspiring the next generation of physicists. She is recognised as one of Australia’s Superstars of STEM for 2023-24 and regularly visits schools to encourage young students to pursue careers in science.

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Government of South Australia - Office for Women