Congratulations to our 2021 WiT Awards finalists

Congratulations to our 52 incredible finalists who are making their mark across the spectrum of science and technology. The annual WiT Awards recognise outstanding talent and achievement giving women the recognition they deserve, building support for their work, and inspiring the next generation of leaders by showing what is possible.

The WiT Awards are a celebration that brings our diverse community together to champion the successes of the many incredible women working in all fields of science and technology, particularly our innovators, our unsung heroes and the rural, remote and regional women who have been spotlighted this year for the first time.

2021 attracted a field of nearly 300 nominees!

Employer of Choice Corporate Sponsored by Women in Technology - Finalists

Sponsored By logo-women-in-technology
MOQ

MOQdigital

MOQdigital helps you achieve more with technology. Whether you need advice, support for integration or on-going operational services, MOQdigital has the insight and technical capability to deliver innovative, reliable solutions. At MOQdigital, we don’t believe in doing things the same way because that’s how it’s always been done. Our people treat complex problems with transparency, creativity and ingenuity – that’s what sets us apart. The first step is to get to know your business. We need to understand your business to understand which solution is the right fit. One size doesn’t fit all. Once we understand your unique challenges, we can start the process of planning, building and be supporting a digital environment that will support you.

Data #3

Data#3

A leading Australian IT services and solutions provider, Data#3 Limited (DTL) is focused on helping customers solve complex business challenges using innovative technology solutions. Built on a foundation of over 40 years’ experience, combined with world-leading vendor technologies, Data#3 delivers an integrated array of solutions spanning cloud, mobility, security, data & analytics and IT lifecycle management. These technology solutions are delivered by combining Data#3’s services across consulting, procurement, project services, resourcing and managed services. Listed on the ASX in 1997, Data#3 reported revenues of $1.2 billion in the 2018 financial year and has more than 1,100 employees. Headquartered in Brisbane, it has facilities across 12 locations in Australia and Fiji. Its vision is to harness the power of people and technology for a better future.

SRG

Super Retail Group

Super Retail Group is the proud owner of four iconic brands: Supercheap Auto, rebel, BCF and Macpac and is one of Australia and New Zealand’s largest retailers. Our powerful brands have established, leading positions in growing high-involvement lifestyle categories of auto, sports and outdoor leisure. We provide our customers and highly engaged 6.6 million active loyalty club members with the option to experience our brands whenever and however they choose – whether that’s through our network of 697 stores or via our digital capabilities, which we continue to enhance.

Employer of Choice Small/Medium Business sponsored by Pipefish - Finalists

Sponsored By img-logo-pipefish
Emesent

Emesent

Emesent is a world-leader in drone autonomy, LiDAR mapping, and data analytics. Our vision is to be the world leaders in autonomous digitalization of the most challenging and seemingly unreachable places on Earth and beyond. Founded in 2018, with deep connections to Australia’s globally recognised CSIRO, we have been striving towards our vision and rapidly grown into a mid-sized global organisation. Emesent has built a reputation for delivering high-quality data capture in the mining, infrastructure, survey and mapping industries. Our team of 80 roboticists, engineers and business development experts work side-by-side to deliver revolutionary efficiency, safety, and operational insights to our customers. Our flagship product, Hovermap, is a smart mobile scanning unit that combines advanced collision avoidance and autonomous flight technologies to map hazardous and GPS-denied environments. Its award-winning technology utilises innovative hardware, advanced algorithms and machine learning to automate collection and analysis of the physical world. Equally capable above ground or underground, indoors or out, Hovermap is a complete mobile LiDAR mapping solution. Hovermap is uniquely versatile, it can be mounted to a drone, vehicle or backpack to map challenging, inaccessible areas enabling our customers to gain insights that were not possible before.

Redeye

Redeye

RedEye is the first fully cloud-based and purpose-built engineering data management solution for asset owners and their service providers globally. We have a team of 70 across ANZ and North America, with our HQ in Brisbane CBD. Our values are our first point of reference: I’ve got your back, I get sh*t done & We’re making a difference.

Genie Solutions

Genie Solutions

When you talk to a Genie Solutions employee about working at Genie, two themes usually emerge – great people, driven by a greater purpose. Genie Solutions is a high performing technology company with a purposeful, innovative and inclusive workplace culture. Located in Brisbane’s Technology Precinct, Genie Solutions now boasts over 175 employees with a range of diverse backgrounds, experience and multi-generational innovative minds which makes Genie Solutions one of the best places to work in Brisbane. Genie Solutions is also proud of its interstate offices located in Sydney, Melbourne, Perth and Adelaide – we service our customers nation-wide!

WMR

Wesley Medical Research

A world leader in applied medical research acknowledged for achieving excellence and innovation in patient care, Wesley Medical Research fosters a strong research culture in UnitingCare Hospitals, improving patient outcomes by translating medical research into clinical practice. Our focus is on giving hope and changing lives. “Wesley Medical Research saved my life” declared Wayne who suffers from an often fatal genetic disorder that disables the heart and skeletal muscles. “It’s my family. It hasn’t just brought physical relief, this research has brought psychological comfort and the friendships that I’ve formed have made my life worth living again. I can’t thank you enough.” “This is what love does”, said Glenda, the mother of Tourette’s Syndrome sufferer, Chris. Experiencing symptoms from the age of 7, Chris was diagnosed with debilitating movement tics at just 12 years old. He was only able to find relief when he joined a Wesley Medical Research clinical trial that has almost completely eliminated his symptoms. “I haven’t been able to read a book in 25 years, I can finally do that,” Chris said. “This research has changed my life”.

VineSt

Vine Street Digital

Woman-led agency Vine Street Digital provides Pay Per Click advertising services to businesses in Australia and all over the world. Whether it’s advertising on search engines, social media, or anywhere across the web, our aim is to grow your business in a meaningful and sustainable way. Pay Per Click (PPC) advertising can be a complex undertaking for businesses of all sizes, and requires a clear understanding of your goals. That’s why our experienced team of PPC Specialists works with you to add our expertise, support, and analysis to your wider business. Our aim is to form long-term relationships with our clients and we do that through honesty, transparency, and accountability. There are no lock-in contracts and no fancy jargon to hide behind. It’s all about genuine relationships and genuine results.

Outstanding Achiever Science Award sponsored by Queensland University of Technology - Finalists

Sponsored By qut-logo-og-1200
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Associate Professor Chamindie Punyadeera

Associate Professor Chamindie Punyadeera is an innovator who leads an internationally recognised transdisciplinary research programme, transforming diagnosis and treatment for patients with head and neck cancer. Her excellence in research is demonstrated by >AUD$10 million in research income, two commercial licensing deals (one deal leading to Viome (USA) receiving FDA approval and the second deal leading to ESN Cleer raising $2.5 million in investment to commercialise a saliva test for heart failure), 67 papers and 7 higher degree research student completions in 5 years.

Drawing upon her industry and multidisciplinary expertise and skills, Associate Professor Chamindie Punyadeera develops biomarkers from concept through to commercialisation for cancer detection. This revolutionises the way early detection of cancer is conceived as it provides an easily accessible, low – cost healthcare solution that transcends social barriers, including geographic remoteness. In this way, I am a driver for positive social change globally.

Her vision is to make Australia the world leader in saliva-based technology through the establishment of a research centre. My research is highly commercial, aiming to improve outcomes for HNC patients while delivering equitable healthcare to all Australians including the first nations people. Associate Professor Chamindie Punyadeera is a leading advocate for women in STEMM, and by challenging the status quo, her goal is to help make QUT continue to be a leading institute for empowering women in STEMM.

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Professor Josephine Forbes

One of the most striking things about COVID-19 is that nearly 4 million people have lost their lives to COVID-19 since we first saw this disease emerge in late 2019. What you may not know about is the other silent pandemic which is killing approximately 4 million people every year.  You may not think that diabetes is very serious, but these startling numbers are the reality of health care professionals and individuals with diabetes globally. Diabetes is bursting health care budgets in most westernized nations and in Australia will consume the health care budget entirely by 2030.

These are the numbers that keep Professor Josephine Forbes awake at night and why she has spent her working life trying to find new ways to prevent kidney disease in diabetes. She is a translational researcher at Mater Research who performs bench to bedside studies on novel therapies to prevent diabetes and a major complication, kidney disease. Her cross-disciplinary approach brings together internationally recognised researchers, hospitals and universitites, funding organisations and biotech/pharmaceutical companies.

Currently, she is a Professorial Research Fellow at Mater Research where she also leads the Chronic Disease Biology and Care Program. Josephine is an Australian Diabetes Society director and the program chair for their annual meeting(~1900 delegates), the previous chair of the Diabetes Australia Research Program as well as an editor for international journals including Kidney International.

Josephine is a scientist at heart, who likes to be close to discovery and innovation as she believes this is to be the key to future health discoveries. She keeps a clear focus on the health outcomes of her research for individuals affected by diabetes and is passionate about training our future leaders in medicine and science.

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Associate Professor Lara Herrero

Associate Professor Lara Herrero’s career journey has not been a linear one. She has worked as an industry scientist, science communicator, research assistant, science teacher, industry consultant, medical doctor, and finally as an academic competing for fellowships and grants. The single consistent element in these variations has been Lara’s desire to create positive change.

Over the past 12 years, driven by her own experiences of prolonged illness, Lara has focused on understanding viral diseases and host/virus interactions. This involved developing new human primary cell systems and small animal models which formed the platform for target identification and resulted in the preclinical development of a specific therapy to treat viral-arthritis. I have successfully taken this therapy from lab to clinic significantly improving patient lives.

With qualifications in Science (BSc (Hons) PhD), Public Health (MPH), and Medicine (MD), Lara has successfully synergized her expertise to achieve positive outcomes across industry, education, business, and academia. She currently leads a diverse group of researchers focused on emerging viral diseases for the strategic development of improved treatments.

Advancing Science Professional Award sponsored by Women in Technology - Finalists

Sponsored By logo-women-in-technology
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Dr Julie Cichero

Dr Julie Cichero is clinician, researcher and research professional advancing science and helping people work together by simplifying communication. Her efforts are paying dividends in diverse fields across Australia and the world. She is leading an international initiative that uses a common standardised terminology for foods and drinks to reduce the risk of choking in people with conditions like stroke, dementia, cancer, Parkinson’s disease, premature birth, cerebral palsy and others. The IDDSI Framework is a volunteer initiative that is being introduced in 30 countries around the world and is supported by organisations such as the UK’s NHS Improvement, the International Confederation of Dietetic Associations, the National Foundation of Swallowing Disorders and more than 18 professional associations. Julie was Speech Pathology Australia’s representative to the 2021 working party and Congress of the Australian Department of Health and Maggie Beer Foundation to improve nutrition and the dining experience in aged care in Australia.

Julie is currently using her skills at Mater Research to demystify the research compliance space and assist clinicians and scientists to conduct over 450 research projects with excellence and integrity. It is an opportunity for her to translate the skills she has learned to support established and emerging Australian research leaders navigate the complex research compliance space. She provides a supportive environment, leading by example to help professional staff communicate with and support Mater’s researchers. Julie uses skills gained over 25 years to build thriving teams to deliver exceptional outcomes.

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Associate Professor Samantha Capon

Associate Professor Samantha Capon is passionate advocate for and leader in the advancement of science in our society through education, engagement, and ethical practice. With a background in ecology, she is especially concerned with science that informs contemporary global challenges including water scarcity, climate change and conservation. She strongly believes that to be effective in addressing these problems, our science needs to be inclusive, engaging, relevant and transparent. As scientists, we need to have high degree of integrity.

Associate Professor Samantha Capon believes that science is something that everyone can, and should, be engaged in and that scientific approaches can be integrated with and sensitive to a diversity of world views and knowledge systems. She pursues her commitment to science advancement in her career and personal interests. As the Director of Griffith University’s Sciences Partnerships Office she oversees the placement of hundreds of engineering, information technology, environmental, and natural sciences students in internships every year. This position allows her to facilitate a huge diversity of partnerships that promote science and contribute to the development of our next generation of practicing scientists. As Head of the Environment and Marine Science discipline at Griffith University, A/Prof Capon guides the educational experiences of many young scientists. She is deeply interested in the philosophy of science and is currently undertaking a PhD in the philosophy of ecological science.

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Dr Claudia Giurgiuman

Two things drive Dr Claudia Giurgiuman – the love of people and curiosity. Combine curiosity with the love of people and you get someone whose life’s ambition is to make a difference in the lives of the sick, vulnerable, and disadvantaged. Thus, Dr Claudia Giurgiuman dedicated her career to helping people. She is passionate about the enormous power of medical research, its ability to unlock the secrets that underpin disease, and the potential to turn new discoveries into practical ways that save lives, change lives, and give hope. Dr Giurgiuman started out as a molecular biologist, aiming to discover the intricacies of molecular pathways and the interactions that can lead to new therapies or a cure for disease. She then transitioned to clinical trial study start-up, knowing that the speed with which a clinical trial opens can mean life or death for cancer patients.

Today, as the  CEO of Wesley Medical Research, Dr Giurgiuman weaves together the paths of people, organisations, skill sets, visions, and missions to achieve the common goal of improving the health of those most in need – knowing that someone’s life, somewhere is impacted by what she does. Sometimes the road is difficult, but she is determined to persevere.

“I am resilient and adaptable. I create change. I’m a problem solver, a strategic and agile thinker who can turn vision into reality by defining clear steps to achieving it. Combining logic with heart and passion, I build new teams, new collaborations, and new roadmaps. I hold a deep belief in the power of togetherness… because together we are stronger.”

Research Leader Science Award sponsored by University of Southern Queensland - Finalists

Sponsored By logo-usq
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Associate Professor Divya Mehta

Can we be the drivers of our own mental health and well-being? According to Associate Professor Divya Mehta – yes, we can!

Associate Professor Divya Mehta is geneticist at QUT who analyses big data to better understand how our genes contribute towards our health. Over 17 million Australians will experience a stressful event during their life. A key question is – why do we all respond differently to stress? Associate Professor Divya Mehta’s research lies at the cusp of genetics, statistics and mental health and identifies the biological, psychological and social drivers of our stress response.

“Our mental health and well-being depend on both our genes and our environment. We inherit our DNA code from our parents, and this does not change during our lives. What changes however is the levels or activity of our genes and genes can be turned on or off in response to changes in our environment and lifestyle. The impact can be seen on our physical and psychological health.”

Her research suggests that positive lifestyle factors such as good diet, regular exercise and increased social support can reduce and even reverse some of the negative effects of stress on our genes. For example, among paramedic students exposed to stress, those reporting higher levels of social support responded better to stress in terms of gene activity of stress-related genes and reduced rates of mental health disorders than those who did not.

Professor Divya Mehta says that while we cannot change our DNA code, we can alter our environment, and by doing so, we can drive our own mental health in a positive direction.

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Associate Professor Eve McDonald-Madden

Associate Professor Eve McDonald-Madden leads a research group at the University of Queensland that aims to improve policy decisions in the face of inherent complexity in our environment and how we interact with it – numerous, diverse interacting species, lack of knowledge about how systems work, the impacts of climate change and competing demands for energy, food, and water. She has pioneered new approaches to decision-making to address these key environmental complexities. Current examples include spatial optimisation of where to produce meat for the least environmental and economic impacts, novel collaborative prioritization of Queensland’s pest management for agricultural and natural resource outcomes, and investigating the potential impacts and advances from a seaweed farming future. She is passionate about supporting the next generation of researchers in her field and frequently gives talks to high school girls about the connection between maths and conservation. She is also keenly aware of the mental health concerns faced by women and men regarding work-family balance, and through openness about her own battle and coping strategies, aims to support those around her. Eve has two young sons, one obsessed with Lego and one constantly jumping on the trampoline.

Michelle Langley_research-leader-science

Dr Michelle Langley

Understanding the origins and development of human uniqueness is the greatest question investigated by archaeology. How did we become human? When did we start creating art, using language, or thinking as we do today?

Dr Michelle Langley from the Australian Research Centre for Human Evolution at Griffith University investigates this question using archaeological science — ultimately to help us understand who we are and where we came from. To achieve this, she studies early tools, ornaments, art and weapons created by human communities across the globe from about 100,000 years ago. She takes a scientific approach to work out how they were made, how they were used, and what they might have meant to those who owned them.

“Collecting this information through microscopic study of the artefacts allows us to reconstruct not only how our minds and societies developed, but also how our ancestors dealt with changing climates, growing populations, natural disasters, and their relationships with their neighbours.”

As an archaeological scientist, Dr Langley has been involved in unveiling some of the oldest ornaments, bone tools, and shell artefacts from Australia and Southeast Asia — this work contributing greatly to changing our understanding of the earliest human communities in these regions.  Dr Langley’s research revolves around the evolution of human cognition which she explores through investigating the role of children and childhood in early cultural development and the use by early human (Homo sapiens and Neanderthal) communities of hard animal materials — bone, tooth, antler, ivory, shell — to create technology.

Her work is regularly highlighted in Australian and international media and she is passionate about bringing more female and Indigenous voices into archaeological science.

 

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Associate Professor Sara Couperthwaite

Associate Professor Sara Couperthwaite is an Industrial Chemist with 15 years’ experience specialising in value-adding mining wastes and optimisation of mining/industrial processes. She is a QUT Researcher whose research is expected to position Australia as a global leader in the manufacture of high purity minerals for the new lithium ion energy market and mining waste management. Her first project on understanding red mud (bauxite residue) chemistry has led to the development of novel materials for water purification and the rehabilitation of these storage facilities through encouraging new plant growth (in field trials with promising results). Lysimeter trials for new plant growth in red mud commenced in 2018, and if proven, the solution could save millions of dollars in the management and monitoring of these sites, as well as significantly improving the environment and aesthetics after mining. Also anticipated for global export is high purity alumina (HPA) for use in lithium ion battery separators and LEDs. Currently worth ~US$39,000/kg, Sara has led a 10-person research team to develop a process to produce HPA from low-value clay worth ~AU$70/kg. Her leadership has enabled funding for the commissioning of an Industry 4.0 mini-plant worth $3 million. Successful demonstration at the mini-plant will result in Lava Blue commissioning a commercial plant in Charters Towers, bringing economical and employment opportunities for regional Queensland. Environmental remediation coupled with resource recovery from mining wastes has always been a key research focus for Sara. In collaboration with roboticists, Sara is building the world’s first robotic boat capable of applying her in situ heavy metal water monitoring process down to 50m in highly acidic open pit mine lakes.

Rising Star Science Award sponsored by CSIRO - Finalists

Sponsored By CSIRO_Solid_RGB
Denys Villa Gomez_rising-star-science

Dr Denys Villa Gomez

Dr Denys Villa-Gomez is a Lecturer at the School of Civil Engineering. She obtained her PhD at the world-leading institute UNESCO-IHE and Wageningen University, the Netherlands. She works on the development of sustainable technologies that reduce pollution and recover valuable resources from wastewater and solid waste such as energy and metals. She leads projects on the recovery of cobalt and rare earth elements from mine impacted waters and tailings using biological processes. Recovery of these elements is a priority to Australia due to its low abundance and high demand worldwide, particularly in new technologies combating climate change.

Dr Villa-Gomez collaborates with international and local researchers as well as with industry and government stakeholders, where she provides technical advice regarding the treatment and management of waste. At the teaching front, she has a growing influence in the implementation of environmental engineering concepts, updating the civil engineering program to make it more responsive to the big world challenges.

Alongside her research interests, she is passionate about creating an impact on others through mentoring and supporting programs, particularly for women in STEM. To this end, Denys has had key roles on committees and groups promoting a better culture and equal opportunities for students and academics at UQ and is the co-founder of the Academic Women group . This group was created and developed to help and support different women’s career pathways, maintain a support network to keep research links even while on leave and provide tools to grow in academia.

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Dr Kate Helmstedt

Dr Kate Helmstedt is a Senior Lecturer and Research Fellow from QUT who use mathematics to understand how complex ecosystems work, and how we interact with them. She examines ecosystems including the Great Barrier Reef, Antarctica, arid Australia, Queensland agricultural lands, and tropical ecosystems and then builds mathematical models representing species and ecosystems, including impacts from people – both good and bad.

She uses these models to design optimal management of these critical ecosystems. Using these approaches, we can achieve better environmental outcomes – save more species, sustain ecosystems for longer – from the resources we spend on management. This is critically important when we have ecosystems that may collapse, species going extinct, a changing environment complicating our models, and limited resources for environmental protection. She tackles management questions like how we should manage threatened and invasive species, how to reduce agricultural impacts on biodiversity, where protected areas should be placed, and when to restore collapsing ecosystems.

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Dr Meredith Redd

Dr. Meredith Redd is a postdoctoral research fellow at the University of Queensland Institute for Molecular Bioscience in the laboratory of Dr. Nathan Palpant. She earned her PhD in Bioengineering from the University of Washington in 2017 where she studied cardiac regenerative medicine at the Center for Cardiovascular Biology.

Dr. Meredith Redd started her research career investigating methods to engineer replacement cardiac tissue with the aim to regenerate a chronically injured heart. As a graduate student, she developed methods to enhance vascularization of engineered tissues made from stem cell-derived heart cells and investigated how the vasculature in injured host myocardium integrates with replacement grafts. Her current research focus has shifted towards stopping cardiac injury in its tracks before irreversible damage occurs. Alongside my colleagues at UQ, I have identified a therapeutic peptide, Hi1a, that blocks the activity of the acid sensing ion channel 1a (ASIC1a) to prevent cell death. Originally discovered from Australian funnel web spider venom, Hi1a is the most potent known inhibitor of ASIC1a, and my research has shown that Hi1a provides remarkable protection from cardiac injury. Our current efforts are centred around the commercial development and clinical translation of Hi1a for the treatment of many types of cardiac injury, including heart attack, cardiac surgery, and improved donor organ preservation for heart transplantation.

Dr. Redd is a previous recipient of two postdoctoral fellowships through the Whitaker Foundation and the American Australian Association and a 2021 finalist for the Ralph Reader Prize through the Cardiac Society of Australia and New Zealand (CSANZ).

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Dr Sandy Richardson

Dr Sandra Richardson leads the Developmental Molecular Genetics group as part of the Mother and Baby Research Program at Mater Research Institute.

She is researching an unexplored genetic cause of pregnancy loss and infertility: the activity of jumping genes.  Jumping genes are DNA sequences that move around in our genome, causing harmful mutations that can make cells malfunction or even die. Jumping genes are “selfish”: they want to be transmitted to the next generation, so they need to jump in sperm, eggs, and cells of the embryo early in pregnancy, shortly after sperm and egg meet.

This selfish drive is why Dr Richarson and her team are investigating jumping genes as a likely suspect in pregnancy loss and infertility. Researchers in the past may have missed jumping genes’ contribution to negative reproductive outcomes because standard genetic tests do not detect the mutations they cause. Dr Richardson’s research uses cutting-edge genetic techniques to explore the role of jumping genes in pregnancy loss and infertility.

If Dr Richardson’s hypothesis is correct, her research could help explain a greater proportion of negative reproductive outcomes. Ultimately, by developing new ways to control jumping genes, Dr Richardson’s research may also lead to improved reproductive outcomes for women in Australia and worldwide.

Emerging Achiever Science Award sponsored by Griffith University - Finalists

Sponsored By vnJC8b_P
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Chloe Yap

Chloe Yap is a medical student, PhD candidate, Fulbright Future Scholar, and Medical Leadership Program graduate at the University of Queensland and Mater Research. One of the most remarkable and complex things that we witness everyday is how we all see the world around us in different ways. The impenetrability of the human mind is reflected in the lack of biological tests and treatments for psychiatric conditions. This means that people with mental health conditions face late diagnosis, uncertain prognosis, and leaves clinicians to guess the best course of action. Chloe aspires to be a clinician-scientist, both working with patients and doing research, using “big data” to gain insights into psychiatric conditions and progressing towards improved diagnosis and care. Currently, she is working on autism, using data from the Australian Autism Biobank. She hopes her dual research and clinical careers will ultimately synergise: her research background positioning her to “translate” discoveries into healthcare, while her clinical work caring for people living with mental health conditions will guide her research towards areas of major, unmet need. Clinician-scientists create bridges between science and healthcare, and are critical players in healthcare innovation. However, the challenge of juggling two careers creates a chronic workforce shortage, and women are particularly affected, making up a quarter of clinician-scientists. Chloe is passionate about building the clinician-scientist workforce through advocacy, organising events to raise awareness and build community, and helping to develop the research curriculum within medical school, so that she can make the path behind her easier for others.

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Maureen Ross

Maureen Ross is a PhD student at QUT whose research delves into the multi-disciplinary field of biotechnology and biomedical manufacturing with a side passion for the environment and sustainability. Maureen’s work is an amalgamation of science, engineering and medicine, using advanced manufacturing to create patient-specific treatment solutions for tissue loss. Specifically, she uses a combination of low-cost 3D scanning methods, advanced image analysis, and multi-material bioprinting methods to create novel scaffolds for ear cartilage. This combined approach seeks to overcome current challenges and limitations that exist in both clinics and research.

If successful, these novel scaffolds could provide an alternative, patient-specific treatment to the rib cartilage grafts and off-the-shelf rigid polymer implants currently available for ear reconstruction. Maureen’s goal is to lead a research group that will focus on medical technology and treatments that are accessible for all Australians, in both city and rural communities, and that sets the standard for sustainable, low-waste lab practices. Through her work, Maureen wants to continue to mentor the next generation of scientists, particularly females, to be both rigorous and hardworking in their science, and compassionate, happy and healthy individuals with a well-balanced mindset to reduce burnout.

As an initial step, she hope to gain a post-doctoral position after graduation and in the near future a DECRA fellowship where she can continue to apply the technology and advanced manufacturing techniques she has developed to date, to the most important and challenging medical problems Australian’s face.

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Michelle Ward

Growing up in a small country town, Michelle has always been passionate about nature and felt sanctuary in the wilderness. She has a strong business background and worked for several years in Turkey, Qatar and South Africa, focusing on sustainable development and waste management. Michelle has a Masters in Conservation Biology from the University of Queensland and is now completing her Ph.D. with Professor Jonathan Rhodes, Professor Hugh Possingham and Professor James Watson. Her research broadly focuses on applied conservation research that is linked directly to on-the-ground actions. More specifically, she is interested in effective reserve design, action mapping, cost-effective conservation actions, bushfire impacts, proactive planning under climatic change, understanding cumulative and interacting threats, and prioritisation strategies for managing biodiversity. She is a volunteer for Wildcare Australia, predominately rescuing and rehabilitating native, orphaned mammals. She is an IUCN WCPA Commission Member and is on the management team for the Centre of Biodiversity and Conservation Science. She also works as a Research Assistant for the National Environmental Science Program and is a Conservation Analyst for WWF, Australia.

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Priscila Oliveira de Lima

Priscila Oliveira de Lima is an emerging researcher completing her PhD in A/Prof Fiona Simpson’s laboratory at The University of Queensland Diamantina Institute (UQDI). Priscila’s research focuses on solving cancer resistance to monoclonal antibody therapy. Many cancer patients receive therapies called antibodies. The problem we face with antibody therapy is that many patients don’t respond to the treatment, but still get side effects. Priscila has been working on repurposing an old small drug called Stemetil, which has been used in clinics for decades as an anti-psychotic and anti-nausea medication. Her research aims to uncover whether Stemetil can be used to help patients respond to antibody therapies. When used in high concentration, Stemetil traps the antibody targets temporarily on the tumour surface so that the antibody is held there longer. The immune cells recognise the antibody on the outside of the tumour cells and start attacking the tumour cells, which were previously hidden to the immune system. This approach has the potential to improve responses to many antibodies in different cancers to improve patients’ outcomes.

Outstanding Achievement Technology Award sponsored by University of Queensland - Finalists

Sponsored By UQ(new)
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Maree Beare

Maree Beare is the founder and CEO of Wanngi, a health management platform for people to track and communicate their health, compressing the time to diagnosis. In 2021 Maree is now scaling Clinials, an advanced clinical trial recruitment platform to provide a direct to consumer approach to provide efficiencies in the $47Billion clinical trials market. Her mission is for Australia to become the hub of conducting clinical trials globally and to achieve this by enabling a fast and efficient recruitment process for consumers to participate in clinical trials.

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Sharon Robson

Sharon Robson is the Founder and Director of Enterprising Agility. She works closely with clients to mobilise their passions for embracing modern working practices, high impact leadership and exponential thinking to maximise abilities to meet market demands whilst maintaining a nimble and flexible approach. Sharon specialises in strategic thinking, continuous improvement approaches and growth strategies for business. Sharon focuses on applying lean and agile and other modern leadership principles, as well as applying collaborative-based approaches to problem-solving and risk management. Working with Leadership Teams to transform organisations, building High Performing Teams, using Higher Order Thinking Skills; Portfolio, Program and Project Performance Optimisation Techniques; Collaborative Engagement Models, Leadership Application Skills, Communication Techniques, and Adaptive Planning Approaches; Sharon provides training, coaching and ongoing assistance for any team looking for improvements. Sharon has held leadership and management roles in both large and small organisations. Sharon is focused on establishing patterns of behaviour that enable teams to perform at very high levels while supporting the organisation’s ability to learn and adjust in today’s ever changing environment.

Leadership Professional Technology Award sponsored by TechnologyOne - Finalists

Sponsored By TechnologyOne
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Daniella Pittis

Daniella Pittis has led her business and people with an open heart and an indefatigable spirit over the last 18 months. As the CISO at Flight Centre Travel Group (FCTG), a business severely impacted by COVID19, Daniella has had to maintain the security and compliance posture of the organisation, manage significant resourcing impacts and ensure the safety of all team members globally, all the while dealing with the challenge of a significant uplift in cyber security risk. Additionally, Daniella has provided expert advice to the Senior Leadership group and Board of Directors on how to digitally transform in a secure and compliant way and assurance to investors as part of capital raising initiatives. Daniella has also led significant security retooling and process improvement projects to ensure that the travel group’s security posture met FCTG’s risk appetite. Daniella has remained a vocal and engaged advocate for diversity, inclusion and equity within Security and Technology throughout the last 18 months. Daniella has continued to use her platform as a leader within the industry to speak out for Diversity and Inclusion and Information Security aims, through a variety of speaking engagements, mentoring opportunities and advisory board committee positions, including on the UQ Business School Advisory board and FCTG’s own Womenwise Committee. Daniella has been recognised for her efforts in Travel, Technology and Security, being awarded or nominated for a number of industry awards over the last 24 months, including being awarded the coveted, Women in Travel – Technology award in July 2019.

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Tracy Whitelaw

Tracy Whitelaw is a digital specialist and thought-leader with more than 20 years-experience in creating customer-centric digital roadmaps and building high-performing, award-winning teams. She has led digital and social media for some of the largest events in Australia over the last decade, including the Brisbane floods, G20 and the Gold Coast 2018 Commonwealth Games.

Tracy has been at the forefront of digital across the largest events in Australia in the last decade. She pioneered the use of social media in a crisis during the Brisbane 2011 floods and was the first person in QLD local government to champion web accessibility back in 2012. Tracy delivered several global firsts while leading digital for the Gold Coast 2018 Commonwealth Games, including Facebook’s first global sport deal, the first digital mascot Borobi, a dedicated app and an engaged audience of 1.3M.

Tracy is the unique blend of digital and data nerd crossed with business-minded strategist who is equally as comfortable speaking to a developer as a CEO. She influences, shapes culture, advocates for digital, and pushes the importance of data-driven decisions. She is a passionate advocate for using data-driven decisions to help improve both the customer and employee experience and believes you can’t have happy customers without happy employees.

Tracy is now Chief Digital Officer at the Local Government Association of Queensland and is also the founder of a cutting-edge location based VR entertainment company currently in the R&D and seed funding stage.

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Virginia Calegare

Virginia Calegare is one of the top cyber security professionals internationally. Coming from the military as a Lieutenant Officer in the Brazilian Navy, heading the security capacity of the nuclear propelled submarine project, she provenly holds experience dealing with cyber security needs of heavily regulated, highly sensitive national critical infrastructure. Formally educated in national security affairs, counterterrorism, intelligence, cyber warfare, nuclear criticality, incident response, knowledge and risk management, Virginia’s deep understanding of the cyber threat landscape has given her a unique ability to safeguard organisations. While speaking at the most prominent Security and IT conferences in Australia, Virginia refers to herself as a “Sheepdog,” born to protect the good sheep in a world under constant attack of malicious bad wolves. Having formally acted as the vCISO for Virgin Australia, and strategically advised several Australian organisations in education, Aviation, Maritime, Finance and Healthcare. Virginia’s transition from the military has caused a massive impact on both the public and private sectors in Australia. In February of 2020 Virginia founded RightSec. Knowing the Australian market, being familiar with cyber threats and trends, and leveraging her defence formation and experience, Virginia saw the need for a risk-based, intelligence-led cyber security consultancy. RightSec aims to be the ideal security provider for all business types ranging from the private sector, to government organisations at all sizes across Australia. As the Founding Director – Cyber Security,  Virginia works to create a customer-centric culture that supports strategic business goals and enables agile security.

Rising Star Technology Award sponsored by NTT - Finalists

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Dr Catarina Moreira

Catarina Moreira is lecturer at the School of Information Systems, Queensland University of Technology where she holds the role of Deputy High Degree Research Academic Lead. She is also the co-founder and co-leader of the explainable analytics for machine intelligence (XAMI) initiative and a pioneer on quantum-like Bayesian Inference technologies (QuLBIT).

Autonomous systems based on Artificial Intelligence (AI) technologies exhibit racial or gender biases that can put minority societal groups at risk (e.g., preventing them from receiving extra healthcare, not being considered for job applications, etc). In Australia, these biases play a crucial role, due to the potential of discrimination of Indigenous peoples.

The research Catarina conducts for XAMI attempts to bring innovative approaches to empower human decision-making. Catarina’s goal is to promote research towards a future where autonomous AI systems are fair, transparent and trustworthy. This initiative she is co-leading intends to promote diversity, fairness and inclusion not only in machines, but also in the way we collaborate with students and staff members.

Catarina is passionate about supporting women in research and in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) with the aim of contributing to a society that promotes equal opportunities across all genders to engage in STEM-related areas.

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Jaysee Sunapho

Jaysee Sunapho is a Microsoft Certified Data Strategist and Data Statistician at COSOL Global. She describes her work being like Myth Busters but with less explosions. Jaysee’s skillset enables her to solve complex analytical problems and cut through tradition and assumption to pave the way for truly data-driven insights that empower her customers to achieve their digital transformation and innovation objectives.

She uses technology and analytical methodologies to investigate data-related challenges which is at the forefront of uncovering meaningful strategic insights.

Jaysee prides herself in partnering with her customers on their data journey, shining a light on the truth within the data, and helping them to evaluate new strategic approaches and decisions built upon a solid foundation of evidence

Simply put, she connects the dots to help her customers to see the big picture.

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Dr Terese Milford

Dr Terese Milford is an engineer pioneering work to bring about a sustainable, technology-enhanced renewable energy future, whilst growing her influence as a passionate and multi-award-winning role model, leader and mentor. As a senior engineer working for Energy Queensland’s distribution networks, Terese is delivering innovative solutions to emerging network challenges, with an emphasis on integrating renewable energy resources into the electricity grid. Her work is enabling the energy sector to undergo the required transformational shift to optimally adapt to high penetrations of renewables and increasing customer expectations amidst a rapidly changing technological and regulatory environment. Terese possesses the rare ability to bridge both disciplinary and industry-academic-start-up divides. She was recently awarded Energy Queensland’s Up in Lights Industry Award 2021 for her instrumental work in partnering with a Queensland technology start-up to deliver an advanced cloud-based big data network analytics engine. This achievement was an Australian first and has the potential to deliver wide ranging benefits to the network. Terese also advocates for the participation of women in STEM through her involvement in prestigious international and national conferences, mentoring of young engineers and her regular outreach and engagement with students. Terese has succeeded across these roles whilst raising young children, making her a fantastic role model for new generations of STEM-women, demonstrating that one can achieve career excellence whilst being an active and present parent.

Emerging Achiever Technology Award sponsored by PwC - Finalists

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Ashley Llambias

Ashley Llambia is an Industrial Design Engineer who specialises in designing education and disability devices for children.  She is passionate about sharing and expanding her knowledge in Human-Centered Design and will soon commence her PhD research on designing eye-tracking equipment for the inclusion of children on the Autism Spectrum in behavioural research studies conducted by Griffith School of Psychology. A broader goal of this project is to create a sensory and material design framework referencing the sensory needs of these children, which can be used to inform future designs and improve patient outcomes.

Throughout her degree, Ashley was  Industrial Design Ambassador for Griffith University and in 2018 represented the university in the international Warman Design and Build Competition run by Engineering Australia.

Ashley has previously worked as an educator for design electronics and product design courses at Griffith University and believes studying Industrial Design has allowed her to follow her passion for creative problem solving by merging her previous studies in engineering with the fields of design.

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Chloe Turrell

Chloe Turrell is a biomedical engineer at WearOptimo who is using innovative technologies to develop a new wearable sensor that monitor’s a person’s hydration levels through a minimally invasive device within the skin.

She is passionate about encouraging more women and young girls to pursue careers within STEM fields and continues to be heavily involved in volunteering and community outreach. Throughout her Bachelor of Medical Engineering degree at QUT (where she received first-class honours), Chloe was part of  Girls in Engineering Making Statements and was also a science ambassador running workshops with students in regional schools.

In addition to her work at WearOptimo, Chloe is also the National Operations Manager for The Power of Engineering, an organization aimed at breaking down the stereotypes around engineering and providing practical and creative experiences for young people to better understand engineering and how it impacts our world.

 

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Fatimah Almathami

Fatimah Almathami is a PhD candidate in the Faculty of Information Technology and Electrical Engineering at The University of Queensland. Her research is centred on the barriers to diversity and inclusion, specifically as experienced by women working in IT-related fields, and the exploration of ways to overcome those barriers and enhance the participation of women in these crucial forward-looking industries.

Being a finalist in the 2021 Women in Technology Awards has opened the door for Fatimah to deeply explore her own academic ambitions and equally to examine how she can raise awareness for the rightful place of women in the field of technology. One of her guiding interests is to encourage female school students in her homeland of Saudi Arabia to explore and engage in study in areas like technology not previously considered. Fatimah’s work in community outreach service reinforces the importance of practical, manageable, immediate solutions to the barriers faced by women in the IT sector while working towards the bigger picture of gender equity and challenging traditional attitudes.

Fatimah’s passion for empowering women in STEM study areas is being supported by the opportunities she has for raising awareness in cross-cultural contexts. She is a serving member of SIGGRAPH Asia 2020 Diversity and Inclusion committee and looks forward to continuing to make a difference for women in technology

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Dr Pranali Harshala Gammulle

Dr Pranali Harshala Gammulle is a Research Fellow at the Queensland University of Technology, working in the area of Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Computer Vision Technologies. She is a lead researcher in the Autonomous Combat Warrior (ACW) program, which is conducted in partnership with Rheinmetall Australia where she designs AI algorithms to understand soldier behavior.

She has been involved in several projects in applying AI techniques to a wide variety of areas including, COVID-19 Diagnosis, Video Capsule Endoscopy, Group Activity Recognition in Crowded Environments, and Passenger Movement recognition in the Airport Departure Security Points.

Her ambition is to continue these kinds of interdisciplinary research activities and introduce AI frameworks to solve challenging problems in a number of domains.

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Thasmika Gokal

Thasmika Gokal is a AI/ML Cloud Solutions Architect at Microsoft. Her mission is to leverage her background in quantum physics and statistics to help empower, enable, and enlighten people and organizations to innovate using customized AI/ML solutions.

Every day she champions the growth of AIML with Microsoft’s incredible Partners, by helping them design, develop and optimize their AIML solutions in Azure, the world’s computer. She’s a big advocate of diversity, equity, and inclusion initiatives (“we go far when we go together” is a favorite quote) and is excited to be part of teams that want to help tackle society’s greatest challenges.

Above all, Thasmika values being an adaptable communicator. Whether it’s presenting at AI conferences, internal Microsoft events, or as an MC for TEDxUQ, Thasmika truly enjoys making challenging concepts accessible for all. There is no greater joy for Thasmika than exploring how human ingenuity can be augmented with machine intelligence through impactful storytelling.

Sue Wickenden Excellence in STEM sponsored by Life Sciences Queensland - Finalists

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Fiona Holmstrom

Co-Founder and Director of STEM Punks, Fiona Holmstrom believes STEM Education should be accessible for everyone, and believes helping children develop skills in the fields of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics will prepare them for a future where they can make a difference. STEM Punks mission is to “Inspire Tomorrow’s Innovators” and teach children about 21st Century Skills by enabling a mindset of Creativity, Innovation, and Entrepreneurship. STEM Punks aim is equity in education. Fiona’s own personal mission is to see more girls enter STEM fields. She supports a project for girls’ digital literacy in Northern Ghana, and closer to home is offering scholarships for underrepresented minority groups in Queensland to access world-leading STEM education for free. Fiona publishes “Future Learning” magazine for STEM Punks which goes into over 9000 schools around the world. ‘STEMinism’, a special issue of the magazine, released on International Women’s Day, brought together leading women in STEM from all over the world, to impart their knowledge and wisdom to schoolgirls about careers in STEM. Fiona’s customer-centric focus enables her to run STEM Punks by keeping children at the heart of every business decision made, ensuring children everywhere are inspired to solve tomorrow’s world problems, today.

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Katie Richards

Katie Richards is a legal tech entrepreneur focusing on the global access to justice issue via her public self-service legal platform Law On Earth. With nearly 20 years’ experience in the legal industry, both in Australia and internationally, and Katie’s love of systematising and tech-enabling business functions to create extraordinary efficiencies, she was able to make a flying success of her first legal tech startup Virtual Legal, Australia’s most awarded online law firm. As a mentor to many young entrepreneurs and students, Katie has been a guest speaker at QUT, JCU, Bond University and Harvard. She has been awarded Young Entrepreneur of the Year for Business News Australia, Suncorp Innovator of the Year and one of the Brisbane City Council Lord Mayor’s Global Entrepreneurs. She is on the QUT Advisory Board and mentors several accelerators. Outside of business, Katie is a fitness fanatic and has run marathons in 4 continents around the world and loves to cook, play the piano and travel. Contributing to the community has always been a high priority for Katie and each of her entrepreneurial ventures over the years have been directed at social impact where possible.

Terese Milford_SueWickendenSTEMAward

Dr Terese Milford

Dr Terese Milford is an engineer pioneering work to bring about a sustainable, technology-enhanced renewable energy future, whilst growing her influence as a passionate and multi-award-winning role model, leader and mentor. As a senior engineer working for Energy Queensland’s distribution networks, Terese is delivering innovative solutions to emerging network challenges, with an emphasis on integrating renewable energy resources into the electricity grid. Her work is enabling the energy sector to undergo the required transformational shift to optimally adapt to high penetrations of renewables and increasing customer expectations amidst a rapidly changing technological and regulatory environment. Terese possesses the rare ability to bridge both disciplinary and industry-academic-start-up divides. She was recently awarded Energy Queensland’s Up in Lights Industry Award 2021 for her instrumental work in partnering with a Queensland technology start-up to deliver an advanced cloud-based big data network analytics engine. This achievement was an Australian first and has the potential to deliver wide ranging benefits to the network. Terese also advocates for the participation of women in STEM through her involvement in prestigious international and national conferences, mentoring of young engineers and her regular outreach and engagement with students. Terese has succeeded across these roles whilst raising young children, making her a fantastic role model for new generations of STEM-women, demonstrating that one can achieve career excellence whilst being an active and present parent.

Rural, Regional & Remote Award sponsored by Mater Research - Finalists

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Associate Professor Eliza Whiteside

Associate Professor Eliza Whiteside is a senior lecturer in Biomedical Sciences, Health Sciences Discipline Lead and the Molecular Biomarkers Group Leader at the University of Southern Queensland in Toowoomba.

Eliza’s research investigates better ways to treat and prevent cancer and chronic wounds, particularly in regional and remote communities. Her career goal is to simplify the process of diagnosing disease through easy-to-use point of care assays, treating disease using more targeted and easily administered approaches, and obtaining high-level evidence on the efficacy of disease prevention strategies using phytochemicals.

Ultimately these approaches will enable medical services in regional, rural and remote settings to treat more patients and improve health outcomes for all.

Eliza was selected as a baton bearer for the 2018 Commonwealth Games Queens Baton Relay for her contributions to STEMM education and community outreach.

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Emma Black

Emma Black is passionate about bringing together on-ground knowledge, science and data to allow producers to make the best management decision. She is the Co-Founder and Chief Operations Officer of Black Box Co – a cloud based software program that ingests raw data from right along the beef supply chain, turning it into easy-to-understand digital insights to drive productivity, sustainability and profitability.

Growing up in Western Queensland and currently based in Wongaling Beach in Far North Queensland, Emma has been working in the Queensland beef industry for the past 13 years across all aspects of the beef supply chain. Seeing the limitations in the beef industry, Emma recognised the need for big data analysis and a master database solution across the whole supply chain, which led her to co-found, Black Box Co.

Emma’s work has given beef producers access to insights that have never been measured before in the Beef Industry, including the ability to now see animal performance data beyond the point of sale allowing cattle breeders to make informed genetic and management decisions otherwise previously unachievable.

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Dr Kirsty Owen

Dr Kirsty Owen is currently a Research Fellow at the University of Southern Queensland and has worked as researcher in Toowoomba since 1999.

Her extensive on-farm research and communication with the Queensland farming community over the years has raised the industry’s awareness of how root-lesion nematodes infects grain crops such as wheat, chickpea and barley causing severe yield loss.

Dr Owen has developed a holistic, integrated nematode management strategy which encourages diverse crop rotations to reduce root-lesion nematodes to sustainably low levels in order to maximise crop production and improve profitability of grain crops. The application of her research has benefited Queensland’s grain growers, and farmers worldwide, where nematodes are an insidious problem causing reduced food production.

Dr Owen is now training a new generation of nematologists to step up to the challenges of understanding and addressing the problems caused by plant-parasitic nematodes in agriculture.

Community Award sponsored by RSL Queensland - Finalists

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Melody Dobrinin

Melody Dobrinin is an all-rounder making a contribution through health, technology, and project management. One thing that has been consistent throughout Melody’s life is that she has always wanted to help people. Through speech pathology, Melody has helped people from across Queensland to Nepal to overcome their developmental challenges or recover from illness and injury. Following the completion of her MPhil in Linguistics at the University of Cambridge, Melody worked as a linguistic project manager and created an Australian voice for Google Australia’s Virtual Assistant that vulnerable Queenslanders could understand and use. Inspired by her own dietary difficulties, Melody began a business aimed at making life easier for people with restrictive diets. Melody is currently undertaking cutting-edge research in microbiology, aiming to cure gut disease, while seeking to inspire the next generation of scientists as a volunteer for the National Youth Science Forum and science YouTuber.

Melody is currently completing a PhD in microbiology at QUT where she is focused on isolating and characterising novel bacterial species in order to create new treatments for Inflammatory Bowel Disease.

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Dr Fiona Lamari

Fiona Lamari is a passionate advocate for women in the construction industry and uses immersive extended reality technology to encourage change. She is a senior lecturer at the Queensland University of Technology, co-Vice President at the National Association of Women in Construction, and the founder of Virtual Site Pty Ltd. Fiona’s vision is to demystify and changing the perception of the construction industry through education and innovative engagement, encouraging young people from diverse background to explore career pathways and opportunities in the sector. Fiona collaborates with major industry players to provide immersive 360º experiences that can ‘teleport’ users into real construction sites and provides them the opportunity for exploration. The experiences focus not only on the construction site, but also on the people working in the industry. Fiona recognises that engagement with people is the key to ignite interest in the next generation and hence developed new technology to interact not only with rendered games, but with the real world. She used her learning and know-how to found her own start-up aiming to revolutionise education in science, technology, engineering and math. Her efforts are widely recognised by the industry (2019 NAWIC International Women’s Day Scholarship, 2020 Advance Queensland Engaging Science Grant, 2021 AIB FE Crowle Award for Teaching Excellence) and community, especially in regional areas of Queensland, where she provides opportunities to high-school students through her Virtual Construction Site tours that would usually not be available to those not living in major cities.

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Nikki Howson

Nikki Howson is the Chief Technology Officer and leads digital operations for GIVIT, the world-leading online donation management solution which matches generosity with genuine need and partners with government in four states/territories in Australia to manage offers of assistance after disasters to ensure donations help, rather than harm an already devastated community.  A major rethink of operations led to Nikki revolutionising the GIVIT website and portals – building automation to eliminate hundreds of hours a month in processing donation offers, requests for support, purchases using donated funds, financial reconciliation, and registration applications. Since joining GIVIT, Nikki has led digital change to achieve incredible outcomes for support organisations and the vulnerable Queenslanders they assist. More than 1.3 million items donated through GIVIT have been received by people in need in Queensland, and the success of the new GIVIT website and portals is seeing the donation rate continually increase.

Beyond being the driver behind the technology solution, Nikki is also a member of the State, District, and Local Human and Social Recovery Groups, and has played a pivotal leadership role in managing donation offers for support and assisting recovery outcomes for Queenslanders after major disasters and catastrophic events.