Advisory Panel Members
Our advisory panel consists of well-recognised STEM Diversity and inclusion experts who guide our progress. The Advisory Panel chaired by Dr Amanda Caples, Victoria’s Lead Scientist, provide advice and guidance to the STEM Sisters project teams by offering referrals to knowledge experts, giving feedback on select content to ensure accuracy of the information presented to the public and providing feedback on the overall thematic approach to ensure that it captures and presents.
Dr Amanda Caples (Chair)
Victoria's Lead Scientist
Dr Amanda Caples BSc Hons PhD GAICD is Victoria’s Lead Scientist, a ‘catalyst’ responsible
for working across the Victorian Government to identify opportunities for economic
outcomes by building relationships between business, the research sector and government.
Amanda brings to the role of broad experience in technology commercialisation, public policy
development and governance of public and private entities.
Amanda joined the Victorian public service in 2002 as the inaugural Director of
Biotechnology and subsequently was appointed as the Executive Director of Science and
Technology and Deputy Secretary Sector Development and Programs to drive the state's
science agenda. In these roles, Amanda has led the development of industry sector strategy
plans, delivered research-led health initiatives, regulatory and legislative scientific reforms
and established international business development and research alliances. Amanda has
worked with Commonwealth agencies on national science and innovation policies and
programs, including the Australian Synchrotron and the National Collaborative Research
Professor Anne-Marie Hede
Dean, Graduate Research, Victoria University
Professor Anne-Marie Hede is an experienced researcher on the consumption, management and branding of authentic cultural experiences within the context of events, museums and tourism. She is currently working on a project on literary marketing, with colleagues from New Zealand and the UK, which is focused on literary tourism and the branding of literary film adaptations.
Anne-Marie has had numerous senior leadership roles including Head of School, Associate Dean, Director of Research & Research Training, Dean Graduate Research (since 2017-current). She was seconded to role of Associate to the Deputy Vice-Chancellor Research (July-September 2019). Anne-Marie is an Elected Member of the Australian Council of Graduate Deans and is currently serving as Secretary. In 2019 she received, with colleagues at Victoria University, the ResearchMaster Award for Excellence in Research Management from Australian Tertiary Education Management.
Professor Karen Hapgood
Deputy Vice Chancellor Research at Swinburne University of Technology
Professor Karen Hapgood has a BE and PhD in chemical engineering from the University of Queensland. Her career has criss-crossed between industry and academia. After graduating as a chemical engineer from the University of Queensland (UQ) in 1993, she spent 2.5 years as a control engineer. She returned to UQ to complete her PhD in chemical engineering and then spent 5 years working for Merck & Co, as a Senior Research Chemical Engineer in the US and a Pharmaceutical Technical Operations Engineer at Merck Australia, before starting as a Senior Lecturer at Monash University in 2006. In 2012 she became the Head of the Department of Chemical Engineering, and was promoted to Professor in 2014. She moved to Deakin University in 2017 as the Head of School of Engineering, where she has overseen many disciplines of engineering through a growth phase.
In July 2018, she became the Executive Dean of the Faculty of Science, Engineering and the Built Environment which includes the School of Life and Environmental Science, Engineering, Information Technology, and Architecture and Built Environment as well as several research centres, including the Applied Artificial Intelligence Institute and the Centre for Regional and Rural Futures.
Professor Elaine Wong
Associate Dean (Diversity and Inclusion) at the Faculty of Engineering and IT, Melbourne University
Elaine Wong is the Associate Dean (Diversity and Inclusion) of the Melbourne School of Engineering, and also Associate Professor at the Department of Electrical and Electronic Engineering at The University of Melbourne.
A/Prof Wong was previously an Australian Research Council (ARC) Future Fellow (2011-2016).
Professor Madhu Bhaskaran
Research Leader at RMIT University
Professor Madhu Bhaskaran co-leads the Functional Materials and Microsystems Research Group at RMIT University. She is also the Associate Dean for Higher Degrees by Research at the School of Engineering. She has won several awards and fellowships for her research including competitive Australian Research Council Postdoctoral Fellowship (2010-2014) and Australian Research Council DECRA Fellowship (2016-2018). She has also won a Victoria Fellowship and has been named as one of Top 10 Innovators under 35 for Asia (MIT Technology Review 2016).
A staunch advocate for women in science, Madhu is a co-founder of the Women Researchers’ Network at RMIT University and has served on the Board of Directors with Women in STEMM Australia since 2015.
Her research interests include functional oxide thin films, wearable technologies and stretchable electronics. In 2017 she was recognised with the Eureka Prize for Outstanding Early Career Researcher and also named as one of Australia’s Most Innovative Engineers by Engineers Australia. She recently won the Australian Academy of Technology and Engineering’s Batterham Medal, the APEC Science Prize for Innovation, Research and Education, and the Victorian QuickFire Challenge: Driving Device Innovation.
Dr Priya Subramanian
Technical Services Manager - Henkel
Dr Priya Subramanian is an experienced technical leader who has held senior leadership roles in
FMCG. She is currently heading the technical customer services function across all four core business areas in industrial adhesives in the ANZ region for Henkel. Priya holds a Bachelor’s degree in
Chemical Engineering from Mumbai University (2002) and after working in India for a year, Priya
moved to Australia as a migrant in 2003 and worked as a Research Associate at Monash University
prior to enrolling for a PhD in Polymer Chemistry (conducting polymers for smart packaging
application) from Monash University (2004-2007).
Post completion of her PhD in 2008, Priya joined the banknote manufacturing industry and worked
for Note Printing Australia as a Research Scientist and eventually moved to leading research program within the the Reserve Bank of Australia on the new note development program where she was responsible to manage industry led university collaboration on research programs developing new technology to improvise banknote security. Her career at RBA was a cross over between industry
and academia. Some of the security features developed under her leadership utilising her product
development, research management and commercialisation skills is currently seen on the newly
released Australian banknotes in circulation.
After working for RBA for nearly a decade, Priya moved into a commercial role with the polymer
banknote substrate manufacturer CCL Secure, where she managed their largest account project in
the APAC region. Priya served as the technical specialist developing strategies to improvise the
product offerings in the market to retain existing clients and venturing new markets across the three
regions by leading the banknote evaluation services team including counterfeit analysis and
Priya is a strong advocate of women in science and specifically in manufacturing industry where
there is underrepresentation of women in core engineering roles. At Henkel, she is a member of
Henkel’s Women in Science and Engineering committee and an active participant in the Diversity
and Inclusion activities within Henkel at a global level. Recently, Priya was nominated as one of the
top women leaders in the APAC region to participate in the Henkel International Women’s Day
Program to discuss about how she chooses to challenge “Gender bias” and “Bias against Working
Vice President - Circular Economy Australia
Ian, is currently Vice President at Circular Economy Victoria, and a coach at RMITActivator’s
LaunchHub Pre-Accelerator program. He serves on the Board of Directors for the Royal
Botanic Gardens Foundation Victoria, the Yarra Riverkeeper Association and Circular
Economy Victoria. He is also the CTO for Ichpig, a made in Melbourne, urban streetwear
brand. He was a Partner within IBM’s consulting business, at various times led IBM’s digital
strategy, experience and design practice, and retail industry practice for Australia and New
Zealand. During this time, he worked across multiple industries such as Banking, Insurance,
Energy Retail, Consumer Products and Federal Government to assist clients in transforming
their organisations and businesses to become more customer focused through the adoption
of digital capabilities. Ian also works on assisting organisations of any size take advantage
of digital capabilities to develop customer and stakeholder experiences to grow whilst
staying true to their core purpose and values. He has lived in many places across the world
including England, Mauritius, Canada, Singapore, the USA and has finally settled in
Melbourne with his wife and two young children.
Dr Ruwangi Fernando (Secretariat)
Founder STEM Sisters
Sri Lankan born Dr Ruwangi Fernando is a recent graduate from Victoria University. She has received accolades for her research, which focuses on how computer algorithms can predict and plan for traffic disruptions caused by major events, such as football games or concerts.
Dr Fernando received a full scholarship from Data 61 CSIRO and was also named a finalist in the 2020 Victorian International Education Awards, 2018 Three Minute Thesis competition as well as 2019 Visualize your Thesis contest. Ruwangi also successfully completed Australian Postgraduate Research Intern with the Department of Transport in Victoria.
Dr Fernando believes in giving back and has set up STEM Sisters to empower STEM women of Colour. She was recognised for her efforts and awarded a STEM Women Changemaker by the Australian Academy of Science and a finalist for the Pro Bono Australia 2021 Impact 25 awards. She advocates for diversity and inclusion in STEM and for the importance of intersectionality. Dr Fernando appeared as a panelist and a speaker for a range of events promoting women and diversity and inclusion in STEM.
Acknowledgment of Country
STEM Sisters, recognises and respects the Ancestors, Elders and families of the Boonwurrung, Wadawurrung and Wurundjeri of the Kulin who are the traditional owners of land in Victoria.