SOAPBOX SCIENCE MELBOURNE
19TH AUGUST 2022 - NATIONAL SCIENCE WEEK
FROM 2 PM TO 5 PM
@ THE FORECOURT STATE LIBRARY VICTORIA

OUR SPEAKERS

Dr Pauline ML Coulon

University of Melbourne

Dr Coulon has graduated with a Canadian PhD in July 2021 at Armand-Frappier Institute in Dr Déziel’s laboratory. Her research focused on bacterial communication by studying the HMAQ system, its role and regulation in Burkholderia cepacia complex (Bcc). Her intensive PhD research led to several articles: two as first author (Front. Cell. Infect. Microbiol 2019 and Spect. Microbiol. 2021) and two as the second author in international collaborations (J. Nat. Prod. 2020 and J. Ind. Microbiol. Biotechnol. 2020). She was also invited to participate in several conferences – including ASM, BBM, YSM – and had volunteered for the organisation of the Armand-Frappier Conference and BISP. Since April 2021, Pauline is a research Officer in the Department of Microbiology and Immunology at Peter Doherty Institute (Melbourne) and joined the EMCRA committee in February 2022. After a brief research on Bcc glycosylation ad its role in virulence, she is now studying host-pathogen interactions within Burkholderia pseudomallei cluster in Dr Stinear’s group.

Dr Susi Seibt

ANSTO – Australian Synchrotron

Susi is a beamline scientist in the SAXS/WAXS beamline of the Australian Synchrotron in Melbourne. Originally from Germany, she was the first joint PhD student to graduate from DAAD joint PhD program between the University of Bayreuth and the University of Melbourne. Her expertise is in the combination of scattering techniques with microfluids for material science analysis and research. When not busy at the beamline, Susi is a passionate edutainer, making science videos for her Youtube Channel “Shelium”.

Dr Nadeeka K. Wawegama

 University of Melbourne

I am a Senior Research fellow in Veterinary Microbiology, Melbourne Veterinary School, University of Melbourne. After graduating as a Veterinarian from the University of Peradeniya, Sri Lanka, I moved to Melbourne to pursue my PhD. In 2013, I graduated from University of Melbourne with a PhD in Veterinary Microbiology and joined Melbourne Veterinary School as a Research Fellow. My research focus on development of diagnostic tools and vaccine candidates to control infectious Mycoplasmas in cattle and poultry. I was awarded the Science and Innovation Award for Young People in Agriculture by Department of Agriculture and Water Resources for Dairy Australia category in 2016 for my research on diagnosis of Mycoplasmas in Australian dairy. In 2020, Melbourne Veterinary School awarded me the Rising Star in Research award. I was awarded the Discovery Early Career Research Award in 2021 by the Australian research council to investigate bacterial virulence factors as vaccine targets.

Dr Farah Akram

University of New South Wales (UNSW)/Children’s Hospital at Westmead (CHW) 

Dr Farah Akram is a medical doctor turned researcher with a special interest in the fields of psychology and pediatrics. She completed an Advanced Masters degree with research focusing on traumatic brain injury in children in New South Wales, Australia. Her current research project aims to shed light on mental health outcomes in health professionals working with children with heart disease and their families. Farah is also currently the co-lead of UNSW Health and Well-being Ambassadors, a program designed to increase mental health literacy and support amongst postgraduate students across the Faculty of Medicine at UNSW. She loves to explore and discuss the different ways people can look after their well-being.

Dr Caitlin N Pfeiffer

Melbourne Veterinary School, The University of Melbourne

Caitlin is a qualified veterinarian with a background in clinical practice and as a veterinary consultant to sheep and beef farms in Victoria, Australia. She is presently a Lecturer in Veterinary Epidemiology (One Health) based at the Melbourne Veterinary School at the University of Melbourne. Her recent work includes projects that focus on the health of Australian livestock and wildlife in bushfire response and recovery, using technology to enhance disease surveillance and response, mapping emerging infectious disease risk, delivering training for capacity building in South-East Asia, and online learning design and delivery. Previous to her current role, Caitlin’s PhD studies investigated ways to improve disease surveillance on pasture-based sheep and beef farms in Victoria, Australia. Caitlin’s experience in veterinary epidemiology includes study design, data management including big data, statistics, regression modelling, survival analysis, social network analysis, qualitative research and spatial epidemiology.

Dr Shwathy Ramesan

The Florey Institute of Neuroscience and Mental Health

I am a researcher passionate in carrying out quality research, translating it to the industry, and communicating the outcomes in both scientific and layman’s language. With a strong background in Molecular biology and biomedical Engineering, I have worked in a range of research projects, which involves synergistic skills from both fields. My passion for innovation has also resulted in a few patents and articles published in tier one journals. My research career started with Harvard University which involved working with neuronal stem cells for bone generation. This was followed by a PhD from RMIT University where I used high frequency sound waves to deliver drugs to cells and tissues. I moved to the University of Melbourne for a year to work on using these sound waves for various biological applications. Finally, I landed up in the Florey Institute of Neuroscience and Mental Health to work on understanding ALS through oligodendrocytes differentiated from patient derived iPSC stem cells.

Dr Sarah Bonell

The University of Melbourne

I am a Research Fellow at Orygen and The University of Melbourne. Currently, I am working on projects pertaining to how COVID-19 lockdowns in Melbourne impacted body image among sexual minority men. Prior to my work at Orygen, I completed my PhD in the Physical Appearance Research Team at The University of men. Prior to my work at Orygen, I completed my PhD in the Physical Appearance Research Team at The University of feminist lens. Part of this research explored whether the cosmetic surgery industry is detrimental to women’s body image and what can be done to better regulate the power this industry has over Australian women.

Jerusha Mather

Victoria University

Jerusha Mather is a PhD student at Victoria University investigating strength training and non-invasive brain stimulation. Her research was funded by the Cerebral Palsy Alliance. She is a recipient of the Bridge Create Change Award and the prestigious L’Oréal -UNESCO Women in Science mentee program. She was also an outstanding finalist in the Women’s Agenda Leadership Award (in the Health category) and is a profound motivational speaker and poet who recently published her poetry collection ‘Burnt Bones and Beautiful Butterflies”. She is also a leading disability activist, particularly for medical students with a disability, inclusive immigration, and accessible packaging and fashion. The Australian Academy of Sciences acknowledged her as one of the STEM change makers. Her portrait is hung on Questacon (the National Science Centre) as one of the outstanding female role models in medicine. Her petition on change.com regarding increasing accessible packaging received over 13,000 signatures. In her spare time, she enjoys music and travelling.

Dr Menik Tissera

ERDA, Monash University

Dr Menik Tissera is currently working at External Relations, Development and Alumni (ERDA) Monash University as the Manager, Business Intelligence (BI) and Reporting. As a part of her role, she is managing the data and business intelligence projects, designing, developing and maintaining the BI reports, enabling better decision making. Prior to joining Monash University, Menik worked as a Data Analyst at the University of Melbourne. Menik received the Australian Research Award in 2010 and she was a Research Scholar at Deakin University. She holds a Bachelor of Information Technology from the Curtin University of Technology, Western Australia and a PhD from Deakin University. Menik has conducted research on data mining, and data science and developed algorithms to manage data efficiently in wireless sensor networks. She has also published her research work in top tier journals which include Computer Networks, IEEE and Springer. Menik’s experience in the domain includes data analysis, data modelling, data science, data visualisation and business intelligence.

Billie Murphy

SolarBuddy

Billie Murphy is SolarBuddy’s General Manager and a specialist in Corporate Social Responsibility and the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals. As an accomplished leader, she has inspired and empowered over 20,000 people around the world to be forces for good through keynotes and workshops. As a qualified primary and secondary school teacher, she has taught a variety of subjects in England, Australia and India. Billie believes that every child has the right to an education and ability to study in a safe, healthy environment. She also developed SolarBuddy’s STEM education program and over 560 schools have participated around the world over the last five years. She is passionate about education being the driver of positive, impactful, and sustainable change. She is dedicated to educating and empowering future leaders to be skilled in sustainable technologies and versed in equity issues while inspiring students to consider how innovative design solutions can transform lives.

Brenda Denbesten

Brenda Denbesten Coaching

Brenda is a chemical engineer with over 16 years experience in the mining and manufacturing industry. Having worked for top tier companies, as well as the federal government’ of Australia she is now a career empowerment coach for Women in STEM. She is the founder of Chronicles of a female engineer, a YouTube series dedicated to busting myths around engineering and empowering women in the industry to stay and excel. She enjoys being a part of the solution and is an intersectional advisory committee and Victoria state committee member for the National Association of Women in Operations. She lives in Melbourne Australia with her husband and two children.

Dr Ruwangi Fernando

STEM Sisters

Dr Ruwangi Fernando is an Information Technology specialist with over 16 years of experience in broader IT technologies, including Artificial Intelligence. Having worked as an academic internationally including in Australia and a consultant for top tier companies internationally, she is now a changemaker for Women of colour in STEM and advocating for an intersectional approach to diversity and inclusion in the Australian STEM sector. 

Dr Fernando completed her PhD at Victoria University in collaboration with Data61, CSIRO and the Department of Transport in Victoria. She has received many 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.

 

IN collaboratION WITH

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.

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