Congratulations to our 2021 WiT Awards Winners
Congratulations to our 2021 Award winners 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.
Sonja Bernhardt The Heart of Our Values Award - Winners
Dr Catarina Moreira
Catarina is a lecturer at the School of Information Systems, QUT where she holds the role of Deputy High Degree Research Academic Lead. She is also co-founder and co-leader of the explainable analytics for machine intelligence initiative and a pioneer on quantum-like Bayesian Inference technologies. Catarina is passionate about supporting women in research and STEM contributing to a society that promotes equal opportunities across all genders to engage in STEM.
Employer of Choice Corporate Sponsored by Women in Technology - Winners
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.
Highly Commended – 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.
Highly Commended – 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.
Employer of Choice Small/Medium Business sponsored by Pipefish - Winners
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!
Outstanding Achiever Science Award sponsored by Queensland University of Technology - Winners
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.
Advancing Science Professional Award sponsored by Women in Technology - Winners
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 - Winners
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.
Rising Star Science Award sponsored by CSIRO - Winners
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.
Emerging Achiever Science Award sponsored by Griffith University - Winners
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.
Highly Commended – 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.
Outstanding Achievement Technology Award sponsored by University of Queensland - Winners
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 - Winners
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.
Rising Star Technology Award sponsored by NTT - Winners
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 - Winners
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.
Highly Commended -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.
Sue Wickenden Excellence in STEM sponsored by Life Sciences Queensland - Winners
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.
Rural, Regional & Remote Award sponsored by Mater Research - Winners
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.
Community Award sponsored by RSL Queensland - Winners
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.