EARLY/Mid CAREER RESEARCHER Forum
Dr Maggie Evans-Galea is an investigator with the Murdoch Children’s Research Institute (MCRI) and the University of Melbourne. Maggie trained in world-leading laboratories during her postdoctoral fellowships in the USA at the University of Utah and St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. She returned to Australia in 2008 with a focus on developing potential therapies for the neurological disorder Friedreich ataxia (FA).
In recent years Maggie has contributed to developing induced pluripotent stem cells from FA patients and identifying a novel FA mutation. She also led an international collaboration which characterised the complex relationships between the molecular, epigenetic and clinical features of FA. In 2009, Maggie received the Australasian Gene Therapy Society's Young Investigator Award and the Friedreich Ataxia Research Alliance USA New Investigator Award, and a MCRI Leadership Award in 2010. Last year, Maggie received a Travel Award from the US National Ataxia Foundation to present her work at the 2012 Ataxia Investigators Meeting, USA. Funded by the NHMRC, Maggie is currently developing novel gene and cell therapies for FA.
With service on multiple student, institutional and government education and advisory committees, Maggie has also enjoyed lecturing, supervising and training postdoctoral fellows, students and staff, both in Australia and the USA. Maggie is a strong advocate for biomedical research, mentoring, career development and science policy, communicating through a variety of media and events..
Maggie interacts regularly with young researchers and was President of the Early-Mid Career Researcher Association at the MCRI in 2011. She is the founding Chair of the Early-Mid Career Researcher Forum. In this role she has contributed to multiple policy submissions; presented at retreats, conferences and symposia; spoken at Parliament House, and; convened the Forum’s inaugural national meeting. Maggie also serves on the National Health and Medical Research Council Postdoctoral Reference Group (PRG) and presented at the PRG’s first national symposium in 2012. Maggie looks forward to another exciting year for the Forum!
Krystal Evans is a medical research scientist whose postdoctoral research is focused on developing a new malaria vaccine. Her PhD at Walter & Eliza Hall Institute (WEHI) demonstrated that the malaria infection causes severe anaemia through the accelerated destruction of uninfected blood cells as well as reduced production of new cells. Krystal did a postdoctoral fellowship at York University on Leishmania, a parasite transmitted by sandflies. Her postdoctoral research has been funded by a Grand Challenges Exploration grant from the Gates Foundation. These are intended to fund ideas that are so radical they may struggle to get support from more conservative funding organisations.
Krystal is interested in science advocacy. She organised and led the 2011 Melbourne “Rally for Research” to highlight public support for continuing medical research funding in Australia during the Discovery Needs Dollars campaign initiated by WEHI. Krystal sees communication and outreach as an essential part of being a research scientist and is a regular panel member on the Melbourne community radio station 3RRRFM weekly science show “Einstein-a-go-go”.
Dr Darren Saunders is a cancer biologist at the Garvan Institute of Medical Research and also Senior Lecturer in Medicine at the University of NSW in Sydney. He studies the molecular biology and genetics of cancer, with the aim of developing new therapies and improving patient outcomes. Darren has a PhD from the University of Wollongong (2000) and undertook post-doctoral training at the Garvan Institute in Sydney.
He recently returned to Australia to establish his own research group following a 3-year position at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver, Canada. Darren was awarded the NSW Life Scientist Research Award in 2010. Darren’s group investigates fundamental mechanisms of cancer development and progression, with the aim of developing novel therapeutic strategies. Specifically, his research is focused on the ubiquitin-proteasome system and serine protease inhibitors (serpins). He is particularly interested in integrating genomics, proteomics, biochemical and animal models for functional validation and translation of the avalanche of novel mutations flowing from tumour genome sequencing efforts.
Dr Raelene Endersby has recently returned to Australia and joined the Telethon Institute for Child Health Research as the John Lillie Research Fellow in the Division of Leukaemia and Cancer Research. She obtained her PhD from the Western Australian Institute for Medical Research and Curtin University in 2003. For the past 7 years, Raelene has been studying paediatric high-grade glioma at St Jude Children’s Research Hospital in Memphis, USA.
Raelene’s research goals are to reduce the morbidity and mortality of children with brain tumours through improved understanding of tumour biology. Her research at St Jude focused on developing novel model systems that mimic human high-grade glioma and the identification and validation of new therapeutic targets. Her current research continues this work and she is applying similar strategies to other types of paediatric brain tumours such as ependymoma, pineoblastoma and medulloblastoma.
Originally from Boston, Massachusetts in the United States, Maggie earned her MSc in Entomology from the University of Hawaii in 2007; that August, she began her PhD at The University of Queensland’s Institute for Molecular Bioscience. Maggie’s dissertation centred on discovering novel, environmentally friendly, orally active insecticides from the venom of native Australian spiders, including funnel-webs and tarantulas. After earning her PhD in 2011, patents were filed protecting the intellectual property created during the course of her research.
Maggie currently works as a Postdoctoral Research Officer on an ARC Linkage Project grant, continuing the work from her degree with an aim towards commercialisation, and publishes broadly in the areas of sustainable agriculture and insecticide toxicology. In June 2012 Maggie became the proud mama to boy/girl twins with her husband, Chris.
Bringing science to the public is one of Maggie’s passions. As an undergraduate and graduate student, she was involved with programs designed to help marginalized and minority students succeed in higher education and careers in science. While a PhD student at the IMB, she founded the IMB Science Ambassador Program to train early career researchers in speaking to the public, to the media, and to funders. In 2008, she was selected as one of the Australian Academy of Technological Sciences and Engineering’s Young Science Ambassadors, where she spoke to high school students and stakeholders in Outback Queensland, and as one of the Queensland Government’s Talking Scientists, for which she appeared at community groups and stakeholder meetings state wide. Because of her work communicating science, Maggie was an invited speaker at the 2009 Queensland Parliament’s Science in Parliament. In addition to her ongoing work with science engagement, Maggie is the Secretary for the International Branch of the Entomological Society of America, the world’s largest professional group for entomologists.
Dr Kate Hoy has been a Research Fellow at Monash University in the Monash Alfred Psychiatry Research Centre (MAPrc) since being awarded her doctorate in 2007. In this short time she has developed her own Cognitive Neurotechnology Research Program, specifically investigating the neurocognitive and neurobiological outcomes of brain stimulation techniques such as transcranial Direct Current Stimulation (tDCS), transcranial Alternating Current Stimulation (tACS), Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (TMS) and Magnetic Seizure Therapy (MST). The ultimate goals of this research are to utilise cutting edge neurotechnologies to develop novel biological approaches to the treatment of cogntive dysfunction. Kate’s research is currently funded by NHMRC, Beyond Blue, Alfred Health, and Monash University.
Kate has received numerous awards for her work, including the Monash University’s Deans Award for Excellence in Research in 2011. She has also been selected into the Monash Research Accelerator Program; which provides mentoring and financial support for the top 3% of ECRs across the university. Kate was selected to represent Monash at the NHMRC 75th Anniversary Symposium and was recently appointed to the newly formed NHMRC Postdoctoral Reference Group in 2012.
Giampiero is a geophysicist and his field of expertise is computational geodynamics. He makes use of numerical models to test hypotheses on the forces driving and resisting tectonic plate motions, which is the process shaping Earth’s surface over millions of years.
He has been trained as a physicist during his undergraduate at the University of Rome ‘La Sapienza’. He then obtained his PhD in Geophysics from the ‘Ludwig-Maximilians’ University of Munich, and moved to Harvard for a two-year post-doc.
Since 2010 he is a Research Fellow in Earth Physics within the Research School of Earth Sciences at the Australian National University.
Dr Jones is an analytical chemist working in the area of environmental pollution and toxicology, particularly as assessed by metabolomics and related systems biology techniques. Currently a lecturer in analytical chemistry at RMIT University he started his research career with a PhD at Imperial College London where his work focused on ascertaining the fate and behaviour of pharmaceutical compounds within sewage works and the receiving aquatic environment (and even potable supplies). He then carried out postdoctoral work at Cambridge University from 2005 to 2009 investigating the cumulative effects to organisms from exposure to complex mixtures of pollutants and stressors. During this time he became involved with issues affecting young researchers and served as the head of the Cambridge postdoctoral associate for just over four years.
In 2009 he was appointed to a lectureship in Civil and Environmental Engineering at the University of Durham where he worked on a research project called ROBUST (Regeneration of Brownfield Land Using Sustainable Technology). He moved to RMIT in 2012 where his group now conducts research on new analytical methods and technologies, particularly in multidimensional chromatography and mass spectrometry for a variety of applications. Oliver has developed an interest in the new wave of cheap computers and microcontrollers such as the Raspberry Pi and the Arduino and hopes to use these for environmental assessment applications.
Dr Jones has won several awards for his work and has written numerous papers, book chapters and reports. He is a charted Chemist and a chartered Biologist and member of the Australia and New Zealand societies for Magnetic Resonance and Mass Spectrometry. He also currently serves as vice president of the Australia and New Zealand Metabolomics Network and when not in the lab he enjoys long distance running and cycling and triathlon.
Andrew completed his PhD studies in 2004 through the Department of Zoology, University of Melbourne working in the field of Reproductive Endocrinology using the Tammar Wallaby as an animal model. In 2005, Andrew received a 4-year NH&MRC Peter Doherty Research Fellowship to work on the Developmental Origins of Metabolic Diseases in a rodent model of growth restriction with Mary Wlodek in the Department of Physiology, University of Melbourne.
In 2009, he moved to the Baker IDI Heart & Diabetes Institute to work with Assam El-Osta in the Human Epigenetics Laboratory investigating the genetic and epigenetic mechanisms underlying the concept of glycaemic memory in a transgenic mouse model. Andrew is currently is a Senior Research Officer working with Bronwyn Kingwell in the Metabolic and Vascular Physiology Laboratory at Baker IDI Heart & Diabetes Institute. He is investigating the beneficial effects of HDL cholesterol in the context of cardiovascular disease and diabetes.
Dr Sharath Sriram is a Senior Research Fellow and joint leader of the Functional Materials and Microsystems Research Group at RMIT University. His expertise includes the synthesis and characterisation of functional thin films, underpinned by skills in microelectronic fabrication techniques. He received his PhD from RMIT University in 2009 for work on high performance piezoelectric thin films. This included the development of the first techniques for quantitative determination of piezoelectric response coefficients of thin films utilising in situ nanoindentation and atomic force microscopy. His current research focuses on functional materials and micro-nano-devices applied to chemical sensing, optical and terahertz plasmonics, electronics, and energy harvesting.
Dr Sriram has more than 70 peer-reviewed publications in leading journals and was a recipient of the Gold Medal for Excellence in Research by the Australian Institute of Nuclear Science and Engineering (2010); an Australian Research Council Post-Doctoral Fellowship (2011-2014); the NMI Prize for excellence in measurement from the National Measurement Institute (2012); and a Victoria Fellowship (2012). He was a member of the ECR-Student Committee of the Australian Research Network for Advanced Materials (2007-2010) and Chair of the Australian Nanotechnology Network Early Career Symposium (2012).
James read physics at Oxford University and completed his DPhil in particle physics at the same institution in 1997. The following year, he moved to Australia to join CSIRO, working on the development of nuclear instrumentation for the minerals and security industries. He specialises in the development of techniques for modelling radiation and using these to invent new ways of solving challenging measurement and imaging problems. He is currently a CSIRO OCE Science Leader and heads the on-line elemental analysis research stream and the nucleonics research team.
Some of the key projects he has worked on include: building a neutron/gamma-ray analyser for bulk cement analysis; developing X-ray analysers for precision, trace-element and mineralogical measurements; and developing novel, radiation-based imaging techniques. With Dr Brian Sowerby, he co-developed the fast-neutron/gamma-ray radiography method for air cargo screening. Following a successful, full-scale demonstration of the technology at Brisbane airport, the air cargo scanner has now been commercialised with a major overseas security company.
James has received numerous awards for his work including CSIRO medals in 2006 and 2008, the 2006 Australian Academy of Science Frederick White prize and the 2009 Eureka Prize for Science in Support of Defence or National Security. He has authored over 100 publications and patents in the fields of particle physics, computer modelling methods and nuclear instrumentation.
Camille Couralet completed her PhD in 2010 at the Royal Museum for Central Africa in Belgium. Her project examined the growth and ecology of tropical trees in the rain forest Reserve of Luki, Democratic Republic of Congo. She then became a Research Associate at the Australian National University to develop a network of tree-ring chronologies throughout the Australian Alps.
In 2012, Camille joined the Australian Academy of Science as the Early Career Researcher Policy Officer in the Science Policy Section. Her work involves the maintenance of a database of Australia’s EMCRs, oversight and production of the Academy’s EMCR newsletter Early Days and the organisation of events for early and mid career researchers, such as the ECR Program at the Academy’s annual meeting Science at the Shine Dome, the Theo Murphy High Flyers Think Tank and the Australian Frontiers of Science.
Camille is the EMCR Forum contact within the Academy secretariat and provides the Forum with advice and practical support for actions and initiatives.
Bob Williamson became Professor of Molecular Genetics and Biochemistry at St Mary’s Hospital Medical School, University of London, in 1976, where he remained until 1995 when he moved to Melbourne as Director of the Murdoch Childrens Research Institute and Professor of Medical Genetics. He retired in 2004, and now is an Honorary Senior Principal Fellow of the Murdoch Childrens Research Institute, the University of Melbourne, and Monash University. Bob has over 400 refereed career publications, including about 40 in Nature, Nature Genetics, Cell and Lancet. He was involved in the identification and cloning of genes for thalassaemia, cystic fibrosis, craniofacial abnormalities, heart disease, Friedreich ataxia and Alzheimer disease.
More recently he has taken a major interest in national science policy, medical and scientific ethics, and has published widely on stem cell science and the ethics of embryo research. He has advised several Premiers, Health Ministers and Ministers for Innovation. Although he has retired, until recently he still worked with a small research group trying to coax cord blood stem cells to help treat cystic fibrosis in children. Since retirement he has increased his activity for a number of medical charities, including cystic fibrosis, Friedreich ataxia and eye diseases. He is a Fellow of the Royal Society, a Fellow of the Australian Academy of Science (where he is Secretary for Science Policy), and an Officer of the Order of Australia.