Dr Melissa Sykes

Dr Melissa Sykes - Chair

Melissa is a Research Fellow in Discovery Biology at Griffith University and has 19 years experience developing and establishing in vitro high throughput assays for application in early drug discovery, and 13 years in drug discovery for neglected tropical diseases. Melissa developed the first minaturised (384-well) model to assess compound activity against Trypanosoma brucei brucei for drug discovery for Human African Trypanosomiasis.

Her current research utilises image-based technology to develop small scale in vitro models of gut infection for the protozoan parasite that causes Chagas disease, Trypanosoma cruzi. Melissa is passionate about supporting careers in science and has been involved in early career research committees in addition to outreach and mentoring roles. Melissa has been on the WiT board, supporting professional development in sciences, since 2017.

Dr Karishma Mody

Dr Karishma Mody

Karishma is an agricultural biotechnologist specialising in applications of nanotechnology to improve animal health. Her PhD with Prof Neena Mitter was a part of a multi-disciplinary research project facilitated by the Queensland Government Research Partnerships at QAAFI in partnership with AIBN, School of Global Animal health, Washington State University (WSU) and industry partner Zoetis. This research, for the first time, established silica nanomaterials as carriers and self-adjuvants for vaccine delivery against Bovine Viral Diarrhoea Virus.

As an Advance Queensland Industry Research Fellow at QAAFI she is leading the research on developing next generation nanopesticides with improved safety and performance. She is exploiting nanotechnology along with molecular tools to develop innovative sustainable solutions for real-world problems like sheep blowfly/lice and fire-ants.

Dr Kinnari Shelat

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.

She currently plays a role of nexus between food industry and material science, which allows her to identify gaps within food product development and provides a platform to apply material science analytical techniques to generate unique information in the field of food microstructure and properties. She is also an active member of polymer division of RACI & Women in Technology.

Dr Brit Winnen

Dr Brit Winnen

Brit is a Research Development Manager at Griffith University where she helps Griffith researchers develop large-scale research grant funding opportunities and strategically important partnerships to increase the University’s research income, reputation and impact. Such partnerships span industry, government agencies, universities, philanthropic foundations and other organisations. Brit received her PhD in medical microbiology from the ETH Zurich in Switzerland and has more than 12 years professional experience in research, research management and coordination.

Brit developed and implemented public outreach initiatives to promote research activities and strengths, she was an UQ Science Ambassador and co-hosts a science show on community radio. In her spare time she enjoys ’making bubbles’ (scuba diving) to explore the amazing underwater world in Australia.

Maria Nguyen

Maria Nguyen

Maria is a senior research assistant that manages a multi-disciplinary biology research laboratory at Griffith Institute for Drug Discovery, Griffith University. Whilst she has extensive experience in neurodegenerative disorders and cancer research, her focus lies in laboratory and occupational workplace health and safety, where she has managed PC2, PC3 and BC2 facilities. Other strong skillsets also include managing and providing simple to comprehensive application training on various high end microscopes and laboratory equipment. Her motivation and ultimate reward is being able to facilitate HDR students and staff colleagues to achieve the best results in their projects. Maria’s enthusiasm for science and research is also demonstrated in the science outreach events she had helped organise and played pivotal roles in.