Congratulations to our 2022 WiT Awards Winners
The annual WiT Awards recognise outstanding talent and achievement giving women and champions of change the recognition they deserve, building support for their work, and inspiring the next generation of leaders by showing what is possible.
2022 Employer of Choice Award (Enterprise to Corporate) - Winners
Queensland University of Technology has a history of extraordinary achievement. And a future of great promise. Early on in her tenure, QUT Vice-Chancellor, Margaret Sheil a pioneering science leader committed to making QUT the most gender equitable university in Australia. With two major campuses in the heart of Brisbane, and advanced online learning options, QUT is one of Australia’s most visionary and purpose-driven universities. The university for the real world is dedicated to fast-tracking real, measurable change, fuelling the career ambitions of students and researchers from all over the world, through practical, industry-aligned collaborations and work-integrated learning.
Empowerment of Indigenous Australians is a priority, especially through our Carumba Institute for Indigenous research, and the Oodgeroo Unit which supports our students. Our pioneering advocacy for inclusion gives thousands of students access to university every year. Our commitment to sustainability and the environment is demonstrated in programs converting solar energy to hydrogen fuels and minimising the greenhouse gases linked to our activities.
By creating diverse teams of researchers, leaders and professionals, we open doors to new opportunities for women in STEMM and provide new perspectives across all of our disciplines. Being part of a university so confident of its place in the world which delivers lifelong learning opportunities for students, and real benefits for staff, partners and the community is truly inspiring.
Go1 is on a mission to unlock positive potential through a love of learning. Go1 makes learning easy with thousands of online courses in one simple solution. Designed for workforces with a diverse range of training and development needs, Go1 provides access to top training providers, all in one subscription.
Go1 allows you to find the right content, in the right format and deliver it to your learners in the right system. We also prioritize learning for our own employees – with one of our core values being “Learn On,” Go1 employees have full access to the Go1 platform and a generous L&D budget. Our culture of coaching and giving feedback also ensures we learn from each other every day and provide opportunities to grow our careers with Go1.
Go1 understands that the ways of working have changed. We offer flexible, remote, and hybrid work options with the best-in-class technology and reimbursements to make the home office feel like the Go1 offices worldwide. If employees decide to come to the office, they are treated to barista coffee, snacks, weekly lunches and they might meet one of our friendly office dogs. But the best part about working for Go1 is the people – everyone cares about each other and is eager to jump in to support their colleagues if in need.
Aligned with our ‘one team’ value, we work collaboratively to solve any challenge, and acknowledge and celebrate the contributions of other colleagues and colleagues within our team.
2022 Employer of Choice Award (Small to Medium) sponsored by Pipefish - Winners
GWI is a Brisbane born and operated management consultancy specialising in using data, information and digital transformation to solve complex business problems.
GWI is an equal opportunities employer — with a very strong female contingent — and supportive of a flexible work environment. GWI proudly have a 50/50 gender split and 18 women in STEM function roles. The GWI team are extremely passionate advocates for the next generation of female tech leaders. GWI have been long-term sponsors of the Tech Girls Movement Foundation which supports young women and girls by giving them the skills and confidence to pursue a career in STEM and have also provided six scholarships to deserving individuals through the CQUniCares GWI Scholarship.
GWI managing partner Michelle Teis was last year awarded the national ‘Data Leader of the Year’ award by Women in Digital. She passionately leads our data practice in which we enable our customers to deliver achieve their goals through supporting them with outstanding technology solutions.
GWI’s sense of social responsibility guides everything that we do. We have partnered with Ecologi as a Climate Positive Workforce. We are committed to positively impacting the environment and tackling CO2 emissions through planting trees and funding carbon reduction programs around the world. 96% of our team believe there is a positive culture regarding flexible work and different sexes, genders and LGBTIQ+ inclusivity.
2022 Community Impact Award sponsored by Go1 - Winners
Passionate, motivating, innovative, and enthusiastic are words often used to describe Michele Pikunic, a STEM Teacher and STEM advocate at Worongary State School on the Gold Coast. From butterflies to esports, from rockets to robotics, Michele has introduced many highly engaging and innovative programs which have increased student engagement and participation in STEM. Michele is passionate about technology and being able to equip her students with skills necessary to live and work successfully in the twenty-first century and beyond. For the past 8 years, Michele has been introducing her primary school children to the world of robotics. She started with 4 children in the class and now has 20 children participating in her robotics classes.
Her activities have also spilled over to the parents of these children, leading to the development of an innovation hub. Her robotics education activities are supported by several industry partners, including CSIRO STEM professionals. Michele is also currently working in partnership with the Queensland Museum and their Learning Officer to empower students to participate in Project DIG and undertake scientific enquiry to explore megafauna from Queensland’s past. As part of the initiative, students have been able to access Queensland Museum Network’s world-class collections and participate in digital engagement sessions with renowned Palaeontologist Dr Scott Hucknall. Students will also host their own STEM event and through the use of technologies such as iPads, augmented reality (AR) and 3D printing be able to communicate their findings to the school community and beyond.
Dr Julie Cichero
A question about how to objectively measure the thickness of drinks used to treat people with swallowing problems led Dr Julie Cichero into the world of chemical engineering and food technology. Her research and collaborative efforts have paved the way for a national, and international initiative to reduce choking risk in vulnerable populations.
Dr Julie Cichero excels in translating knowledge to make it accessible to others, building teams and helping people work together around a common ‘why’. Julie’s work as a clinician, helping people with stroke, cancer or dementia to eat and drink without choking inspired her research and brought clinicians, chemical engineers, food technologists and pharmacists together. Julie has worked as a researcher, post graduate educator and industry consultant bringing medicine and science together for better outcomes for people with chewing and swallowing problems (dysphagia). Julie was key to developing common standardised terminology for foods and drinks that reduce choking risk in people with conditions such as stroke, dementia, cancer, Parkinson’s disease, and cerebral palsy.
Julie has been Co-Chair of IDDSI for 10 years and is a clinical expert for the Aged Care Clinical Standards Expert Working Group for the Australian Commission on Safety and Quality in Health Care and has represented Speech Pathology Australia for the Australian Department of Health National Congress on Food, Nutrition, and the Dining Experience in Aged Care.
Julie currently works at Mater Research leading research professionals, and the clinical trials unit while helping researchers to conduct research with the highest ethical standards, research governance and integrity.
2022 Sonja Bernhardt The Heart of our Values Award - Winners
Kellie King more than 30 years professional experience in Technology and is distinguished thought leader in business and technology – particularly in Robotic Process Automation (RPA).
Currently she’s the CEO of Business Improvement Consultants, a Queensland based consultancy company that guides organisations through their transformation journey.
Prior to this, Kellie was the Head of Operational Excellence at Bupa where she was responsible for their transformation from legacy systems to state of the art technology. In 2017, introduced Robotic Process Automation (RPA) and Chatbots to Bupa, using the Brisbane office location as the greenfield site to learn, grow and develop customer facing solutions to remove bottlenecks and increase speed of processing insurance claims, and reducing risk of errors.
She was also the Global Director of IT at Tyco, heading their business transformation initiatives. Kellie has held global positions in Australia, Hong Kong and the United States and has a proven track record of creating a clear vision and inspiring those around her to thrive in a changing environment. Her passion to create innovative solutions and develop winning propositions has been recognised and awarded in the tech industry.
Her lifelong passion for coaching and mentoring girls to become their best selves, extends outside of business and into sport where she is a respected netball Coach, President and Chair of the Board. Kellie is a Master Black Belt in Six Sigma and Lean process improvement.
2022 Up-and-Comer Technology Award sponsored by PwC - Winners
Rachel Huang is passionate about addressing world’s biggest problems through technology and innovation. She does this by addressing unmet markets with her tech start-up companies, supporting industry innovation as a part of KPMG’s consulting service, and volunteering her time to supports others to professionally develop themselves and pursue their passion. Rachel is well regarded in the entrepreneurship ecosystem as a young innovator and a leader. She works with start-up founders to help them raise capital at The Network Loop, and helps industry clients fund their technology innovation with her team at KPMG. Rachel was Previously CEO and founder of Powersphere – a hardware company that designs innovative wind-turbines to aid renewable energy generation in urban settings.
Rachel is currently in her 5th year of Biological and Chemical Engineering with a dual degree in Biomedical Science at The University of Queensland. In 2021, she was UQ’s Chief Student Entrepreneur a, representing student entrepreneurs and inspiring entrepreneurship throughout the university. She’s also a scholar in UQ’s Andrew N. Liveris Academy for Innovation and Leadership.
Rachel is a thought-leader and mentor in the start-up ecosystem and is a frequent guest speaker on various panel events (from government, university, to public events).
2022 Emerging Achiever Science Award sponsored by Griffith University - Winners
Brooke Williams is an emerging researcher whose research has taken her to some exciting places overseas. However her \commitment to advancing research in Queensland has led Brooke back to The University of Queensland (UQ).
Brooke’s research focusses on finding innovative solutions to conservation problems at the environment-human interface. Balancing conservation with human needs is an increasingly important area of science and she addresses these challenges in two ways. The first is through strategic planning where she designs tools to effectively allocate conservation action, largely through mathematical optimisation.
The second is by developing metrics and assessments to quantify how human activities impact biodiversity and ecosystem services (the services that nature provides to people such as fresh drinking water), and how to improve outcomes. In her postdoctoral research position she is focussing on the development of new tools to improve outcomes for ecosystem services that are impacted by global trade, and to help guide koala conservation on private lands.
She has worked on several conservation and planning projects globally and across Australia, Central and South America, and Africa with various conservation groups including the Wildlife Conservation Society, The Nature Conservancy, and the International Institute for Sustainability
2022 Digital Mover and Shaker Award sponsored by NTT - Winners
Dr Elisa Bayraktarov
Dr Elisa Bayraktarov is a conservation scientist who mobilises and interrogates data to craft solutions to environmental problems. Elisa is an expert in producing trends to report on the state of Australia’s threatened birds, mammals, and plants , and on how we can optimise the restoration of our marine and coastal ecosystems to be more affordable and successful. Her research at UQ (2014-2020) translated ecology and data into policy impact by building digital innovation tools for data visualisation and environmental reporting. She collaborated closely with researchers, businesses, non-governmental organisations, and policy makers to achieve real-world impact for the environment by creating Australia’s Threatened Species Index – a data-driven web visualisation tool which – very much like a stock market index – reports on how Australia’s threatened species are going.
In 2020, she transitioned to the role of Program Manager at Griffith University where she works at the interface between science and digital innovation and specialise in building virtual laboratories for the environment. As a rising Technologist, Elisa leads a team of 10 agile software developers, scientists, science communicators, trainers, and data analysts to build the platform of choice for environmental problem solving called EcoCommons. EcoCommons Australia is a $5m-3yrs investment from the Australian Research Data Commons and 8 partner organisations to deliver a platform that empowers researchers and policy-decision makers to protect and restore the planet by providing ecological data, robust scientific workflows, and a flexible digital
Dr Müge Belek Fialho Teixeira
Müge is a passionate academic, designer and researcher that believes technology and innovation is the key in tackling the challenges of climate change. By disrupting day to day practices with technology enabled, customised, sustainable, and aesthetic design solutions, she believes we can create better futures. Since being employed by QUT in 2017, as a post-doctoral researcher after a year of moving into Australia, Müge has been climbing ladders in academic positions to lecturer and senior lecturer as a digital mover and shaker in the areas of design robotics, advanced manufacturing, and parametric design. Throughout this time, Müge was invited to become a Chief Investigator in Design Robotics Project funded by IMCRC (Innovative Manufacturing Corporate Research Centre), won 3 Women in STEM grants, led cutting edge research projects funded by QUT’s Centre for a Waste Free World, presented in many industry events, and participated in the CareFactor 2020 entrepreneurship program.
As a design lead in ARM Hub, her research projects include mass customised, advanced manufactured, and technology embedded aged care furniture; customized and 3d printed assistive technologies for people with spinal cord injuries; sustainable fenders for marine environments; and AR/VR adoption in Architecture Engineering and Construction(AEC) industries.
Müge is mentoring students from engineering and architecture, including her PhD students, to use industrial and collaborative robotic arms in creating bespoke architectural elements. Following principles of STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Maths), Müge is part of programs that find novel ways to engage high school and university students with Design Robotics.
2022 Rising Star Science Award - Winners
Dr Marie-Luise Wille
Dr Marie-Luise Wille is an academic working in the interdisciplinary field of medical physics and biomedical engineering and has designed the world’s largest biodegradable tibia bone implant for an Australian patient. Her focus is in translational research and improving the bench-to-bedside workflow with the help of enabling technologies and combining medical imaging, 3D printing a development.
Since 2019 Dr Wille has been the Deputy Director of thend software Australian National University led ARC Training Centre for Multiscale 3D Imaging, Modelling and Manufacturing – which has the mission to train the next generation of PhD students and ECRs in digital materials and to be industry 4.0 ready. She manages the QUT side of the Centre, which includes 6 industry partners, 14 Chief Investigators, 10 HDR students, 5 Postdocs and 3 staff members.
Marie-Luise is passionate about Women in STEMM and has been the chair and vice-chair for the IEEE Women in Engineering Queensland Section Committee for the last 6 years. In 2018 she was awarded the Volunteer of the Year award and in 2019 received the Outstanding Woman in Engineering award in 2019 by the IEEE Queensland Section.
2022 Professional Technology Leadership Award sponsored by Technology One - Winners
Prof Peta Wyeth
Professor Peta Wyeth believes in the power of technology for good. She first embarked on her PhD studies to discover new ways for pre-schoolers to access the true delight and power of information technology, studies that twenty years later inform her leadership role in a multi-million dollar national research centre for Australian children to be healthy, educated and connected in a digital world. On that journey, she has personally engaged with over 4000 students in classrooms, helping to create the new generation of IT professionals. Now as a university leader, she has shared her vision with her team and brought their wealth of experience and creativity to deliver remarkable outcomes for QUT students, staff, University and partners. Together, they have delivered a transformation of teaching and curriculum at QUT that engages more students than ever before and created fresh new study and research opportunities to deliver the benefits of technology.
In 2021, Professor Wyeth was appointed as the Deputy Dean of the Faculty of Science at QUT with more than 450 staff and 5,000 students. She is the leader of the Learning and Teaching, Research and Engagement portfolios that support the Faculty’s six schools, with specific responsibilities in achieving equity and diversity for staff and students. She was previously Head of the School of Computer Science at QUT, successfully leading 48 academic staff to deliver education and research outcomes that exceeded the organisation’s expectations. As Academic Program Director for Information Technology (2014-2019), Professor Wyeth led curriculum development and teaching improvements that saw QUT more than double its number of IT students while achieving the best student feedback nationally for learner engagement. As a Professor of Computer Science, she is internationally recognised for her work in making technology engaging, creative and healthy for children and people with disabilities.
Professor Wyeth strives to change the technology professions to one where more women feel valued and included. She has created initiatives ranging from changes in teaching practice to new employment strategies to enhance gender inclusion and diversity. She has personally acted as mentor for dozens of young women seeking to make their way both professionally and academically.
Sarah-Jane Peterschlingmann is the Managing Director and Owner of ATech, an international award-winning technology company that helps large corporates, start-ups and government deliver mission critical websites and digital solutions.
Sarah-Jane left her home town of Cairns with a push bike, a duffle bag of clothes and just six hundred dollars to her name to pursue a career in information technology. She has built her career from an executive assistant position, achieving her Bachelor of Information Technology majoring in Artificial Intelligence from Central Queensland University in 2005 and a Master of Property Studies from theUniversity of Queensland.
Starting as a web developer, Sarah Jane helped to grow ATech from humble beginnings to multi-million dollar revenues with an impressive list of high calibre clients including Virgin Australia, Seqwater, The South Australian Government, and Brisbane City Council. Sarah-Jane achieved this while raising two children as a single mother.
Sarah Jane has established a reputation as an industry speaker on the topics of entrepreneurship, technology, innovation, and leadership in male dominated industries – having spoken at events for WIT, Australian Computer Society, Women in Digital, River City Labs, Queensland Government, QUT, Griffith, and more. She has also held seats on the CQUniversity ICT Advisory Board as well as the Australian Computer Society and WIT executive committees.
Sarah-Jane is passionate about empowering others to find the best within themselves by working with her key strategies of Focus, Belief, Education & Dedication. In her own time, she volunteers as a mentor to many aspiring female technologists as well as entrepreneurs.
2022 Research Leader Science Award sponsored by The University of Southern Queensland - Winners
Prof Kerrie Wilson
Professor Kerrie Wilson is one of Australia’s leading researchers into the science, strategy and policy of environmental conservation and management. My research program has delivered novel insights and tools to identify where maintaining or restoring natural ecosystems will support conservation and produced ground-breaking approaches for planning in conservation and agricultural landscapes.
Professor Wilson’s research has been published in high impact journals such as Nature and Science and involves collaborations with government agencies and NGOs at local, national and global levels. Kerrie is the Pro Vice-Chancellor (Sustainability Strategy) at QUT, a role in which she provides whole-of-university academic leadership of sustainability initiatives, and has also played leading roles in several large collaborative projects within Australia and internationally. Kerrie’s research leadership credentials have been recognised through appointments to numerous national and international scientific committees, including UNESCO and the Australian Heritage Council.
Kerrie’s research has had an impact in many countries and regions, ranging from the Gold Coast Hinterland to the temperate forests of Chile and the tropical rainforests of Borneo. She has received numerous national awards, including the Prime Minister’s Prize for Life Scientist of the Year, the Australian Academy of Science Nancy Millis Medal for Women in Science, two ARC Research Fellowships and an Australian Museum Eureka Prize for Outstanding Young Researcher.
Kerrie is grateful for the privilege of supervising and mentoring dozens of brilliant PhD, Masters and Honours students, who have gone on to high-level research and management roles in universities, government agencies and NGOs.
2022 Sue Wickenden Innovator of the Year Award - Winners
Mellissah Smith is the Founder and Solutions Architect for Robotic Marketer – a world-first AI-powered marketing strategy technology platform that automates the development of marketing strategies, execution plans and provides an AI-powered management and reporting dashboard. The disruptive technology uses machine learning, big data and AI to power the performance of marketing departments around the world. The prototype was developed out of QUT under the direction of Dr Richi Nayak.
Mellissah is an Adobe Insider, a Top 100 influencer in Entrepreneurship and has been named in the Top 100 marketers globally. She’s also been published in major media publications such as Huffington Post, BRW, Sydney Morning Herald, The Age, Australian Financial Review and more.
Mellissah is also Editor in Chief of marketing/entrepreneur publication, Marketing Eye Magazine & writes for a number of editorials including Business First. She has 20k followers on LinkedIn, and 80k+ on Twitter.
2022 Inspiring Diversity in STEM Award - Winners
A/Prof Kym Rae
Associate Professor Kym Rae openly identifies as a physically disabled member of the STEM research community. Despite her personal challenges, she continues to work tirelessly in health research with the vision that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander families have a right to equitable health outcomes compared to the rest of the Australian communities. She develops research programs through long-term foundations of mutual respect and communication with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities that ensure community voices and priorities underpin research projects. Her outstanding track record in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health research allows her to partner with communities to co-design research projects that meet community health needs and Government priorities.
Associate Professor Kym Rae is the Principal Research Fellow in Indigenous Health at Mater Research and is continuously collaborating with the Aboriginal community-controlled health sector across the country. She is nationally and internationally recognised for her expertise Indigenous maternal infant health. Her past longitudinal cohort of Aboriginal mothers and children went for 10 years and remains the largest cohort of its kind internationally. In 2020 she relocated to QLD and is growing new programs of work in partnership with the Aboriginal community-controlled health sector of QLD.
She is deeply committed to growing research skills within community and has personally mentored ~15 Aboriginal researchers as team members as they have attained further qualifications and grown their research and leadership expertise. She is currently mentoring six Early Career Researcher and five Indigenous researchers.
She is holds a significant number of committee appointments including on two different Reconciliation Action Plan Committee’s, the Equity and Diversity Committee (Mater) and co-Chair of the Indigenous Project Management
Committee (National Stillbirth Centre of Research Excellence).
While Kym’s personal passion is about the health equity for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders, as a disabled woman in STEM Kym recognises that she is a distinct minority and holds that responsibility seriously. It is deeply important to Kym to be ‘visible in the STEM field’ to let women who have disabilities see that it is possible to attain leadership roles and improve outcomes for others despite personal challenges. Kym achieves through taking on every speaking opportunity she is given and openly discussing disability and managing a STEM career.
A/Prof Amy Mullens
A/Prof Amy Mullens is a researcher, teaching academic and practicing clinical psychologist from the University of Southern Queensland who has dedicated her career to improving the wellbeing of people from marginalised communities – including those from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds and sexually or gender diverse individuals – through research, clinical practice, leadership and advocacy.
A/Prof Amy Mullens has held numerous research, clinical and governance roles over the past 20 years. Her contributions as a leader, researcher, educator and provider of clinical/health psychology services have had a meaningful impact in the community and industry. A/Prof Mullens has worked across government, private and NGO contexts delivering psychological interventions via individual, group, and workshop formats; having worked directly with thousands of clients across her career. A/Prof Mullens has provided clinical supervision for more than 500 psychologists to date and trained hundreds of health professionals and an estimated 1700 health professional students during her career. The impact and reach of A/Pro Mullens’ impact has also created a ripple effect through the numerous organisations where her input has directly influenced models of care, quality of health service delivery, clinical supervision, applied research, novel health promotion and clinical governance.
2022 Technologist of the Year Award sponsored by The University of Queensland - Winners
Prof Kerrie Mengersen
Prof Kerrie Mengersen is a data whisperer. Traditional data analysts are “supposed to be” behind a computer, breaking data open and listening to its stories. Instead, Kerrie was in the middle of the Amazonian jungle, hunting jaguars with 360 cameras, VR, camera traps and drones, to plan a conservation corridor through Peru. Combining new technologies, statistics and real world challenges is what inspires Kerrie to get out of bed each day. Her work takes her to Southern Africa and Indonesia and the Great Barrier Reef to help conservation agencies
save cheetahs, orangutans and corals; inside an operating theatre and cancer wards to help doctors treat patients with Parkinson’s Disease and cancer; to downtown Brisbane to help industries do business better. Kerrie gets to do research in maths, stats and computing, and works with amazing experts to translate this into solving global challenges facing our society.
As a Distinguished Professor of Statistics and Director of the Centre for Data Science at QUT, Professor Mengersen leads 100+ researchers and 80+ graduate students in mathematics, statistics,
information science, computer science and domain-specific sciences across the University.
2022 Excellence in Science Award sponsored by Mater Research - Winners
Prof Kate Schroder
For 20 years, Professor Kate Schroder has studied the good, bad and ugly of our immune system – how immune responses protect us from infection, but also causes several serious human diseases. Kate is an IMB Laboratory Head, and Director of the IMB Centre for Inflammation and Disease Research. Kate’s discovery research has revealed how our body mounts an inflammatory response. She is passionate about ensuring her research findings are applied clinically, to ensure patients suffering from inflammation-related diseases can access disease-modifying therapies.
Kate and her collaborators developed new anti-inflammatory drug candidates that formed the basis for a UQ biotech start-up company, Inflazome. In 2020, the pharmaceutical giant Roche acquired Inflazome for AUD$620 million plus milestones, in a landmark deal for academic intellectual property. Two drug candidates are now poised for Phase 2 human clinical trials as novel anti-inflammatory therapeutics.
Kate regularly works with industry to guide commercial programs, serving on the Scientific Advisory Boards for biotech and pharmaceutical companies (e.g. Inflazome, Novartis).
In addition to her passion for inflammation biology, Kate is a skilled mentor for junior researchers. She is a passionate advocate for Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion in academia, and is leading cultural change at IMB and UQ. She helped to establish the IMB Women in Science and Technology Fund to assist women in overcoming the barriers to their career progression.
Prof Michelle Colgrave
Prof Michelle Colgrave is a Professor of Food and Agricultural Proteomics, and chief investigator on the Australian Research Council Centre of Excellence for Innovations in Peptide and Protein Science.
Prof Colgrave is one of CSIRO’s most exciting mid-career scientists. She has developed an international reputation in the measurement of proteins in food products and applied this to the deregulation of breakthrough commercial products such as gluten-free barley for coeliacs and omega-3 canola to replace fish oil.
Michelle leads CSIRO’s $100M Future Protein Mission which brings together diverse science disciplines from across the innovation system to create new protein-based products, companies, and industries. She deftly communicates her science and translation through science publication and the media. She supervises and mentors early career scientists through her CSIRO and university appointments.