Making a difference

Seaweed in beaker

Tiahni Adamson, a Torres Strait Islander woman descended from the Kaurareg Nation of Thursday Island, is a passionate wildlife conservation biologist who graduated with a Bachelor of Science (Wildlife Conservation Biology) from the University of Adelaide in the class of 2020.

Tiahni is now focused on sustainable aquaculture production as the Lead Community Engagement Officer at CH4Global.

Tiahni also lectures at the University of South Australia, is the State Coordinator of Seed Mob, Australia’s only First Nations-led youth climate justice group, and is a youth dialogue member for the Uluru Statement from the Heart.

In her career so far, Tiahni has worked on programs for the CSIRO, including the Aboriginal Summer School for Excellence in Technology and Sciences. She has also worked for the Department of Primary Industries and Regions as a Sea Ranger and a Fisheries Compliance Support Officer, where she fostered relationships between First Nations communities and government. In 2019, Tiahni trained as a Climate Reality Leader under Al Gore.

These experiences have taken Tiahni from sea to land, surrounded by natural wildlife in regional and remote communities both within Australia and internationally to understand, learn and develop projects that nurture marginalised nations.

Finding and progressing technologies, ideologies and solutions that can positively impact climate change, and learning alongside Elders on Country, have been highlights for Tiahni.

“Impacting climate change at scale and having the best outcomes for First Nations communities to be uplifted and nurtured along the journey; whatever it takes to do this, is my career goal,” Tiahni says.

“Currently I am achieving this through my work with CH4 Global, with the growth and use of the Australian red seaweed Asparagopsis to reduce methane emissions in livestock ruminants.

“Sustainability is living in harmony and coexistence with the land, sea and other beings, in manners that can continue to support all forms of life, generation after generation. Sustainability must tie in with the deep desires of Western culture to accelerate human progress, which requires an unlearning, and then relearning of regenerative practices.”

A prominent role model and next generation leader, Tiahni advocates for the participation of First Nations people and women in STEM careers. She regularly speaks at festivals and conferences and to businesses to communicate climate science and First Nations justice.

Tiahni Adamson

Tiahni Adamson

In 2022, Tiahni received the Dr Kay Price AM Award for demonstrated excellence in, and ambassadorship for, STEM and she was named a Superstar of STEM by Science and Technology Australia. She was one of two students to be awarded the inaugural Indigenous Time at Sea Scholarship from CSIRO’s Marine National Facility. She also received the Tirkapena Indigenous Award, a distinguished alumni award from the University of Adelaide.

“Sustainability is living in harmony and coexistence with the land, sea and other beings.”Tiahni Adamson

In February 2023, Tiahni was nominated for the Rising Star Award in The Advertiser, Sunday Mail and SkyCity’s Woman of the Year Awards.

“As First Nations people, we have a really deeply ingrained wisdom, knowledge and understanding of the Earth and its systems,” Tiahni said when interviewed by the University’s alumni team after her Tirkapena Indigenous Award win.

“We’ve cared for this country since time immemorial, and it’s only over the last 230 or so years that we’ve had such detrimental damage.

“I think my proudest moments in these spaces are when I come across young people who have heard me speak at events about what we’re doing in the climate space, and then seeing them grow.

“This wider impact, that’s greater than myself, is what makes me feel really proud because it’s not an objective that I ever had in mind. Seeing the potential for inspiring other people to create positive change is probably my favourite thing.

“Success comes down to impact and positive change and the longevity of that change as well.

“So often we try to implement projects in society that are short lived and not long lasting. For me success is about real, transactional and tangible changes that affect big systems.”

Story by Eleanor Danenberg, Marketing and Communications Coordinator for the University’s Faculty of Arts, Business, Law and Economics.

Tagged in Lumen winter 2023, lumen, women in stem, sustainability, alumni, alumni profiles