Life Sciences Chapter - Committee Members


Melissa Sykes  (Chair)

As a postdoctoral fellow I am developing and applying image-based methods to undertake biological profiling of lead compounds within a collaborative network between Griffith University, Discovery Biology; the Drugs for Neglected Diseases Initiative (DNDi); Monash University; Murdoch University; Epichem and the London School of Tropical Medicine and Health (LSHTM) in a lead optimisation program for Chagas disease, caused by the protozoan pathogen Trypanosoma cruzi



Nasim Amiralian 

Nasim Amiralian is an Advance Queensland Research Fellow in the area of nanomaterials engineering in Australian Institute for Bioengineering and Nanotechnology, The University of Queensland. While passionate about fundamental science and engineering, Nasim is strongly focused on pursuing commercial endeavours associated with her research area. This includes working with industry partners to advance and translate her research into products that will benefit the economy and strengthen Australia's position in the global market.
Nasim’s research has also been instrumental in fostering linkages and delivering job opportunities for Indigenous Australians.
Nasim is passionate about inspiring the next generation of young scientists. She has been instrumental in the development of a culture of collaboration and career support for UQ's next generation of research leaders. Her vision is to help different committees to create a program that enables all early and mid-career researchers to reach their career goals and achieve research excellence. She also like to share her enthusiasm for science with high school students and potential undergraduate students who are curious about a career in science.



Catherine Kim

Catherine is a PhD Candidate and an XL Catlin Oceans Scholar at the University of Queensland.  Her research focuses on coral reef ecology of Timor-Leste and has the privilege of gathering baseline coral reef phototransects across the Indo-Pacific with the XL Catlin Seaview Survey.  The project also collects 360 degree, underwater imagery which can be viewed as ‘virtual diving’ on Google StreetView.  Catherine enjoys science outreach and communication and is a Young Science Ambassador through the Wonders of Science Program at UQ.  Previously, she worked for Professor Drew Harvell at Cornell University working on coral disease in Hawai‘i and seagrass wasting disease in the San Juan Islands after graduating with a BS in Science of Earth Systems.


Dr. Kinnari Shelat

 Dr Kinnari possesses PhD in material science from University of South Australia, with expertise in providing consulting and problem solving to different clients ranging from PhD students, postdocs and industry. Presently, I have dual role at the University of Queensland, Senior Professional officer at AIBN, ANFF-Q and Research fellow at QAAFI.  My role involves varied responsibilities; training & supervision of PhD students, designing & implementing various experiments and providing ‘tailor-made’ solutions for a range of different types of samples from food to minerals particularly for characterising complex structure and surface properties using RAMAN, FTIR and AFM.

Currently I am playing a role of nexus between the areas of food industry and material science, my dual role allows me to identify gapes within food product development area and provides platform to apply material science analytical techniques to generate unique information in the field of food microstructure and properties. 

I am an active member of polymer division of RACI and Women in Technology (WiT).


Dr. Ilaria Stefani

Ilaria was awarded her PhD in Bioengineering in 2014 with a project developed in collaboration within Politecnico di Milano and the Australian Institute for Bioengineering and Nanotechnology. In 2013 she moved to Brisbane to complete her last year of studies. After defending her thesis in Italy in 2014 she came back to Australia to start working in her current position.
Ilaria is now a Research Group Operations Manager and a Postdoctoral fellow at the Australian Institute for Bioengineering and nanotechnology at The University of Queensland. She has 8 years’ of experience in tissue engineering and regenerative medicine research and 2 years’ experience in research project budgeting and management.
She has always been interested in research translation and to study collaboration between academia and industries she enrolled in the Advance master course in Bioengineering system with the MIT/Portugal alliance. The course focused on patenting, commercialization paths, market analysis and research liaison with industry.
Interested in helping ECRs developing their future, Ilaria has been involved in the young researchers community as a representative of PhD students in Politecnico di Milano PhD School, as chair of the AIBN ECR committee and as treasurer of the Brisbane Early Career Researchers Life Science Symposium in 2016 and 2017.


Laura Puk

Laura is a PhD candidate focusing on coral reef ecology at the University of Queensland. Her research seeks to understand the interaction between harmful macroalgae and herbivorous fish in order to advance fisheries management to increase the health of coral reefs. She has worked as a research assistant in marine microbial science, zoology and social-ecological systems analysis for over three years while pursuing her undergraduate and graduate degrees, the latter she finished with distinctions. During her studies she also volunteered on a number of conservation and sustainability projects and was also lucky enough to be a scholar of the German National Academic Foundation. She is passionate about applying science towards sustainable environmental management and about making science accessible and understandable to everyone.












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