UQ student is Australia-at-Large 2024 Rhodes Scholar 

Rising University of Queensland physics star and mountaineer Emerald Gaydon has been named as an Australia-at-Large Rhodes Scholar for 2024.

Ms Gaydon is a Bachelor of Science Honours (Physics) student at UQ with ambitions to tackle climate change using neuromorphic computing technology inspired by the brain.

Ms Gaydon will use her Rhodes Scholarship to study a Doctor of Philosophy in materials.

She will research the application of material science and nanoscale engineering to neuromorphic computing - a field that develops highly energy-efficient computer hardware inspired by the structure and functions of the human brain.

"The UK and Oxford University in particular have many outreach initiatives, science centres and expert networks that I want to explore," Ms Gaydon said.

"These initiatives are well-connected and long-standing, and I want to learn their structures and methods and bring this knowledge home to help build up Australian science engagement."

An advocate for women in STEM, she also works internationally as a science communicator with STEMPunks and leads the UQ Science Demo Troupe , which uses interactive activities to engage the public with science.

She recently won an Engaging Science Grant to travel to regional communities across Queensland, engaging with a projected 12,500 school students.

"Many of the solutions to the defining challenges of our era - like energy-efficient computing, climate change, hunger, and disease - lie in STEM," Ms Gaydon said.

"One of my goals is a world in which everyone, regardless of ethnicity, gender and socioeconomic background, is scientifically aware.

"I have a dream to better engage Australians with science."

A keen mountaineer, last year she conquered Tsorku Peak in the Himalayas over 20 days, which included 10 days of severe food poisoning and fighting off altitude sickness in -20-degree Celsius temperatures that nearly claimed three of her toes to frostbite.

Ms Gaydon graduated from Moreton Bay College in 2017 as the college dux and received an OP1.

Three Australia-at-Large Rhodes scholarships are awarded by a national panel each year.