2020 WiT Awards Winners



Congratulations to our 2020 WiT Awards Winners


Congratulations to our 2020 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.


 Category Winners About our amazing winners

Young Achiever Science Award

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Samantha Nixon is a PhD student at the Institute for Molecular Bioscience at the University of Queensland. As a former arachnophobe, turned spider advocate and venom specialist, her research focus lies in investigating how spider venom can be used to develop new medicines to fight against parasites.  Alongside her research interests, she is passionate about addressing inequality in STEM as well as education and leadership through science education and is also the winner of the 2020 Queensland Women in STEM Prize - Jury Award.

Rising Star Science Award

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Dr Sonia Shah is an NHMRC-funded research fellow at the University of Queensland Institute for Molecular Biosciences. Dr Shah is a woman on a mission to understand the causes of human disease by analysing our genetic data. Notably, her research has focused on understanding the link between cardiovascular disease and brain-related disorders. She is the 2020 winner of the Genetics Society of AustralAsia Alan Wilton award recognising outstanding contributions to the field of genetic research from an early career researcher. 

Research Leader Science Award

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Professor Sonja March is a child Psychologist who holds a teaching and academic research position within the School of Psychology and Counselling at the University of Southern Queensland.  Her extensive research is in the use of innovation and technology to enhance the efficiency of psychological treatments and evidence-based psychosocial interventions across the lifespan. Through her findings, Professor March’s ambition is to make mental health treatments available to all Australian children and adolescents, irrespective of where they live or come from.


Outstanding Achievement Science Award

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Professor Vicki Flenady is a Senior Research Fellow and an experienced perinatal epidemiologist, who is globally recognised as a leader in stillbirth research. Currently, she is the Director of the NHMRC Centre for Research Excellence in Stillbirth. In her role, Professor Flenady works to reduce the number of stillbirths that occur after 28 weeks’ gestation by 20%.  Her vision is to reduce the devastating impact of stillbirth on parents, families and the community through high quality research that translates into improved clinical care, community awareness and outcomes.

Young Achiever Technology Award

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Valeriia Savenko originally was from Russia and migrated to Australia at the age of 16 to pursue her passions. She has since become a qualified Electrical and Biomedical Engineer who currently works as an Azure Customer Engineer at Microsoft, assisting customers to solve complex problems through Artificial Intelligence and the Internet of Things.  Her work in technology has transformed her life and continues to inspire other women to bring their skills to the table. She is an advocate for diversity and inclusion for women in STEM and shares her story through public speaking. Valeriia’s hard work and grit has positioned her to have profound influence as an emerging leader in the tech sector.


(Highly Commended) Jessica Williams is a driven Junior Security Consultant at one of Queensland's largest security consultancies, Alcorn Group and is currently transitioning into a role as Security Consultant at CyberCX.  Jessica was awarded 'Best Security Student Leader' of 2019 by CSO and Women in Security for her passion for the information security community. In her role at Alcorn she assists in providing security assurance to some of Queensland's largest organisations. She is assisting in web, API and mobile penetration testing and has worked on malware analysis for red team operations. Additionally she assisted in architecting the infrastructure for Alcorn Group’s ethical hacking workshops. 

Rising Star Technology Award

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Zoe Eather is a Churchill Fellow, engineer, and millennial with a passion for Smart Cities, Communities and Regions. She is a catalyst for change, undaunted in her mission to utilise technology in a way which enhances livability and sustainability. She is committed to providing real solutions to prevalent community needs, which requires forward thinking, effective use of resources, and education. Zoe shares her learnings through her ‘The Smart Community’ podcast and boutique consultancy, My Smart Community, which offers advisory services such as; smart mobility, smart technology for regional communities, project management, and collaboration facilitation. 



(Highly Commended) Dr Jessica Korte is passionate about the ways good technology can improve lives. To ensure technology is “good”, she advocates involving end users in the design process; especially when those people belong to so-called “difficult” user groups - which usually translates to “minority” user groups. Her philosophy for technology design (and life in general) is that the needs of people who are disempowered or disabled by society should be considered first; everyone else will then benefit from technology that maximises usability and accessibility. Her research areas include Human-Computer Interaction, Machine Learning, and Participatory & Collaborative Design. 

Leadership Professional Technology 

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Associate Professor Cori Stewart is a recognised leader who has pioneered new approaches to accelerating digital transformation by delivering large-scale partnerships.  Best described as a boundary spanner, Cori's superpower is seizing the right time and place to propel bold industrial projects forward. She is currently CEO of the new not-for-profit, ARM Hub, where she has successfully leveraged Queensland’s global leadership in advanced robotics and design-led manufacturing; equipping businesses with the resources and expertise needed to innovate solutions and develop new products.  





(Highly Commended) Vered Netzer is a Digital Transformation and Advisory Leader at ThoughtWorks Australia. Vered’s true passion is inspiring growth and learning in others while helping enterprises transform legacy systems into modern digital platforms. Throughout her 23 years of experience, Vered has led many high performing technology teams through a culture of creativity and innovation. Vered managed to break the glass ceiling, continually excelling in a male dominated environment, leading by example and embodying leadership qualities that enable transformation and growth among her team members, peers and the community. 

Outstanding Achievement Technology Award 

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Leanne Kemp is an engineer, technologist and pioneer in emerging tech working from concept and ideation to actualisation of product. Leanne works on a global scale across multiple fields to provide transparency in the provenance of high value items such as diamonds and art.  As well as serving as the Queensland Chief Entrepreneur, she is renowned for her work at the United Nations, OECD, World Economic Forum, Global Blockchain Business Council, World Trade Board and the IBM Blockchain Board of Advisors; she is also an Adjunct Professor at QUT and a two-time patent holder.  A multiple award winner, Leanne has a keen understanding of the challenges faced by women in technology and mentors many in the field to push aside barriers and achieve greatness. 

Regional Award 

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Dr Jodi Neal is currently the Project Lead for the Australian Strawberry Breeding Program within the Queensland Government’s Department of Agriculture and Fisheries, Australia’s largest public horticultural breeding program.  Through her work, Dr Neal has utilised cutting-edge scientific approaches to influence the breeding cycle of strawberries in order to produce advanced varieties. Her focus is a forward-looking strawberry breeding program that tackles the most prominent issues impacting Australia, such as food security, climate change, increasing population, and competition for land use, which will inevitably affect the future of farming. 



Vivienne McCullum has over 25 years of experience in agricultural technology and project management. Vivienne is currently the Commercial Manager for DIT Technologies based in Queensland. DIT is an agricultural technology company that focuses on the development and disruption of the traditional supplementary feeding system in the livestock industry through the direct injection of nutrients into the water supply. Throughout her career, she has been a driving force in the evolution of agricultural technology, ultimately improving farming practices to serve the needs of Australian farmers better.

Community Award 

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(Highly Commended) Sammy Herbert From being interviewed by Taboo from the Black Eyed Peas about being a women of colour to running Australia’s largest free coding workshops for women, non-binary and trans folk in Australia to building a tech community for one of the most innovative scale ups in the country, Sammy is truly a courageous and kind leader. At SixPivot, Sammy has built a free community mentoring program for deep and impactful growth in the tech community. This program has never been done before and has caught the interest of Microsoft and Amazon, it provides a platform for thought leaders to share their experience and provide a support network to grow local tech leaders. 

Innovation in Science Award

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Dr Elke Hacker is a world-leading postdoctoral researcher in the skin cancer field at the Institute of Health and Biomedical Innovation at QUT. Over the past ten years, she has expanded her research from in vitro lab models to human clinical studies which have generated results that improve understanding of the relationship between sun exposure, genetic-susceptibility and skin cancer risk. Her work examines preventative approaches including post-sunburn treatments with DNA repair enzymes which could protect against skin cancer. Dr Elke’s extensive research portfolio has led to the development of various smartphone apps which reliably collect UVR exposure data and measure the risk of sunburn. 





(Highly Commended) Bronwyn Venus is evidence that not everyone in STEM is a scientist who works in laboratories. While she has worked in laboratories and in the field as part of various animal science research teams in the past, she now manages multi-million-dollar contracts which requires innovation and creativity. The scientists in the institute, and across UQ, have awarded her the 2015 Professional Staff Achievement Award and the 2018 Leadership Award within QAAFI, and across UQ the inaugural highly prized 2019 DVC-R’s Research and Innovation Award for Excellence.  Bronwyn leads business and engagement at QAAFI and is a people person who has the unique ability to bring scientists together across disciplines to address large research questions and subsequent contracts.


Innovation in Technology Award

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Lauren Hall has a Second Dan Black Belt in both Entrepreneurship and Taekwondo, having successfully built five multi-million dollar businesses across manufacturing, pharmaceuticals and technology industries and competed as a South African Springbok in the ITF Taekwondo World Championships (Russia 1995). She has 25 years of executive-level business management experience with an education in Programming and Accounting. Lauren is the Founder and CEO of iVvy, Australia’s multi-award winning SaaS Technology software company which continues to revolutionise the events and hospitality industry. iVvy unites a highly fragmented industry by empowering communities through change, innovation and connection. 


 Employer of Choice Small/Medium Business


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SixPivot is one of the most innovative scale ups in the country, they are purposefully different in the way they do business. They have built a company of exceptionally talented software developers ranking among the best in the world. They are true to their craft, believing anything is possible and care deeply not only about technology they build, but equally about the people they build it with and for. Their CEO & Founder puts people at the centre of everything she does and those values permeate throughout the company in everything they do. They have employee profit-sharing because they all celebrate the wins, their vision is for the company to be owned by its people. SixPivot was founded five years ago with remote working from home, before it was popularised by the COVID pandemic. SixPivot has always been ahead of the curve in innovation. And what makes it so forward thinking and progressive, is that it’s entirely lead, managed and owned by women. There aren’t many technology companies who can say that.

(Highly Commended) Genie Solutions  have the most amazing team of people that have been committed to developing software to help medical professionals run their practices for over 20 years. Their official vision is to help medical professionals deliver better health outcomes. How do they do that? By tackling the complexity of running a successful practice head on to drive real efficiency, both in practices and across the medical system. They are focussed on setting the standard and to be at the forefront of innovation in practice management software. They offer the industry two products, Genie and Gentu. Genie has grown to be Australia’s most popular desktop product; whilst Gentu offers customers the mobility and freedom of cloud software.


 Employer of Choice Corporate

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Data#3 is 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. Our vision is to harness the power of people and technology for a better future.



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