EMCR Forum executive members

2022 executive

Dr Raffaella Demichelis (Chair)

Whadjuk region of the Noongar Nation | She/Her

Dr Raffaella Demichelis

Raffaella is an ARC Future Fellow and holds a Senior Lecturer appointment at Curtin University. She leads an emerging team who does research in the fields of computational materials chemistry and geochemistry. Her research is focused on understanding how minerals form in systems as diverse as coral reefs and the human body. She led landmark research that proves a new and more comprehensive theory explaining how minerals form in aqueous solutions, and solves the problems related to understanding how atoms arrange into certain mineral structures. Raffaella also contributes to develop software and potential models that are used in laboratories conducting research in chemistry, materials science and earth science worldwide.

Originally from Italy, Raffaella has made Western Australia her home for more than 10 years. She spreads her enthusiasm for science through engaging with outreach and community building activities. She co-initiated networks in WA aimed to teach software skills to PhD students (through the Software Carpentry project) and the WA Women in Chemistry group (under the auspices of the Royal Australian Chemical Society), as well as volunteers much of her time to visit schools and mentor kids to possible STEM career paths with the double purpose of also showcasing gender diversity in STEM.

As a culturally and linguistically diverse woman in STEM with caring responsibilities who has gone through significant and extended career breaks due to maternity and part time work, she has faced numerous barriers to career progression and is using her experience to advocate for a mentally safe, flexible and inclusive research environment, allowing for more sustainable and diverse career paths. Indeed, she contributes much of her time to equity, diversity and inclusion initiatives both locally and nationally. 

Raffaella has received national and international recognition for her research and community engagement through being the recipient of the 2015 Caglioti prize for Early Career Chemists (Italian Academy of Science) and a 2020 WA Young Tall Poppy awardee.

Dr Vanessa Moss (Co-Deputy Chair)

Dharug Country | She/Her

Dr Jinzhe Gong

Vanessa is a radio astronomer based at CSIRO Astronomy and Space Science, working at the boundaries between astronomy, telescope operations and data science. She oversees science operations for the innovative new Australian Square Kilometre Array Pathfinder (ASKAP) telescope, coordinating astronomical observations from specification to the arrival of the data at the Pawsey Supercomputing Centre. Prior to her current position, she worked overseas at ASTRON Netherlands Institute for Radio Astronomy in research and telescope operations and at the University of Sydney as a CAASTRO postdoctoral fellow.

Vanessa has extensive experience in big data analysis/visualisation, automation of complex systems and science communication across numerous contexts. In 2020, she chaired a CSIRO-hosted symposium on "The Future of Meetings", which was an entirely virtual cross-disciplinary conference to explore best practice for professional and social interaction. She is a strong advocate of a digital-first approach and for the process of optimising all interactions by maximising accessibility, inclusivity and sustainability. Vanessa is also passionate about ensuring effective career structures for EMCRs, building stronger relationships and development opportunities between academia/industry, and providing equitable and flexible paths across academia. 

Dr Mohammad Taha (Co-Deputy Chair)

Naarm, Wurundjeri Land | They/Them

Dr Jinzhe Gong

Mohammad is a non-binary queer person of colour and researcher at the Faculty of Engineering and Information Technology at the University of Melbourne. They have experience in electrical engineering, flexible/wearable electronics, materials science/engineering, teaching and science communication.

Mohammad’s research interests centre around novel materials, their design and engineering for different purposes, and the developments of new applications that will better serve communities in Australia and abroad.  Mohammad is passionate about pursuing a more holistic approach to problems such as climate change and believes in the importance of multidisciplinary scientific innovation in order to drive impactful future solutions to current and emerging challenges.

Mohammad is also a long-time champion of Diverse Genders, Sexes and Sexualities, having worked for queer inclusion in several institutions, and they strongly believe in the vital role of diversity in experience and opinion in order to bring fresh perspectives to long-standing challenges, both in the scientific community and the broader society. An important part of Mohammad’s promotion of diversity in STEMM is their work as the co-chair of the Victorian chapter of QueersInScience (QiS) advocating for intersectional and sophisticated inclusion models that can capture and enhance the experiences of people who belong to multiple minority groups. Outside of academia, Mohammad is a fitness instructor, an enthusiastic reader, a writer of fiction/non-fiction and poetry, and an aspiring film maker.

Dr Yee Lian Chew

Kaurna Country | She/Her

Dr Yee Lian Chew

Yee Lian is an NHMRC Research Fellow (Mary Overton Senior Research Fellow) at the Flinders Health and Medical Research Institute (FHMRI) at Flinders University, trying to understand the chemical signals in the brain that trigger learning and experience-dependent behaviours. She leads a young team of researchers who use the small invertebrate model C. elegans (the nematode worm) to address fundamental questions in neuroscience. The lab uses a combination of genetic tools, advanced imaging and behavioural assays in order to dissect pathways of neuronal communication important not only for learning, but also relevant to human disorders such as pain and neurodegenerative disease.

She is an enthusiastic science communicator and has been involved in events at the Cambridge (UK) Science Festival, the Sydney Science Festival and Fresh Science (Science in Public). She has recorded podcasts for the University of Wollongong, an Elevator Pitch video with ABC Science, and stood on a soapbox at Sydney’s Circular Quay to talk science with members of the public as part of Soapbox Science 2019. She enjoys undergraduate teaching and always takes the opportunity to share microscopy images of fluorescing worms, or share the odd worm pun, during her lectures. Yee Lian is currently a Superstar of STEM (2021-2022), a program run by Science and Technology Australia (STA) aiming to highlight women experts in STEM.

Yee Lian always has time to mentor young researchers from underrepresented backgrounds who need help with job/grant/funding apps or just a little pep talk! She is part of the Flinders University College of Medicine and Public Health equity, diversity and inclusion committee and is passionate about creating a stronger, more diverse research community.

Dr Timothy Lau

Kaurna Country | He/Him

Dr Timothy Lau

Tim is a Lecturer of Sustainable Energy Engineering at the University of South Australia. Prior to this role, he was Senior Research Associate at The University of Adelaide, having completed his PhD in mechanical engineering in 2011 from the same university. His main expertise is in fluid mechanics, turbulence, combustion and renewable energy systems (solar, wind and wave), where he utilises a combination of state-of-the-art experimental techniques, laser diagnostics and computational modelling to advance fundamental understanding in these fields. He also has experience in designing green buildings, having worked both within the industry and academia to reduce the carbon footprint and improve indoor environment quality within the built environment.

He is particularly interested in applying scientific knowledge and engineering know-how to address practical challenges, both within the society and industry, such as reducing energy consumption and emissions from systems through improvements in efficiency or the development of new green technologies.

He was awarded an Endeavour Fellowship award from the Australian Government in 2015 to conduct research at Sandia National Laboratories in the US. He has also been featured in an episode of ABC’s Nexus program on the life of international students in Australia, which was broadcast within the Asia-Pacific region.

Tim is also keen in popularising STEM fields, particularly amongst the younger generation, as he thinks this is crucial for Australia to meet the needs of an increasingly automated society.

Dr Vipul Agarwal

Eora Country | He/Him

Dr Vipul Agarwal

Vipul is a NHMRC fellow at Cluster for Advanced Macromolecular Design (CAMD) at the University of New South Wales (UNSW). His research focuses on developing multifunctional polymer/2D material-based composites for application in biomedical engineering and materials science. His current research focuses on developing fundamental principles to control and manipulate the organisation of 2D materials in 2D and 3D polymeric nanocomposites, which in turn dictate the efficacy of these nanocomposites in specific applications.

Vipul Agarwal graduated with a BSc (Honours) in Chemistry from the University of Delhi (DU), India in 2005, MApplSc in Chemistry from University of Tasmania (UTAS) in 2010, and PhD in Nanobiotechnology and Bioengineering from The University of Western Australia (UWA) in 2015.  After a considerable career break, he joined the Indian Institute of Science (IISc), India, in 2016 on the Science & Engineering Research Board – Department of Science and Technology Postdoctoral Fellowship.

Vipul has extensive training and ongoing research interest in conducting multidisciplinary research, working at the interface of materials science, (polymer) chemistry, nanotechnology, biomedical engineering and stem cell biology.  He has recently developed a technology to fabricate electrically conducting 3D nanocomposite foams with ultrahigh porosity (>90%) using an ‘inverse emulsion templating’ method.  He is also working towards the development of stimuli-responsive implants for spinal cord regeneration.

Dr Angela Laird

Dharug Country, Land of the Wallumedegal people | She/Her

Dr Angela Laird

Angela is a Senior Research Fellow within the Macquarie Medical School and Centre for Motor Neuron Disease Research at Macquarie University, Sydney. She leads a team of researchers working together to identify and test potential treatments for neurodegenerative movement disorders such as motor neuron disease and Machado Joseph disease. The team uses various disease models, including transgenic zebrafish, to gain insight into the potential efficacy and mechanisms of these treatments and has multiple ongoing industry collaborations to share this expertise.

Angela grew up on a farm in rural NSW and moved to Sydney to attend UNSW for her undergraduate and PhD degrees. After postdoctoral training at KU Leuven, Belgium, she returned to Australia and established her own research team. So far in her career Angela has enjoyed developing skills in team leadership, mentorship and science communication, with a particular focus on ensuring engagement with patients, caregivers and the general public, including those from rural and remote communities. She now has two young children and vividly remembers the difficulty of juggling workloads with childcare and sleepless nights. She enjoys supporting others going through similar situations, mindful that it can be an isolating time.

Dr Maithili Sashindranath

Wurundjeri region of the Kulin Nation  | She/Her

Dr Maithili Sashindranath

Maithili is a Deputy Laboratory Head at Monash University’s Australian Centre for Blood Diseases (ACBD). She is biomedical scientist who works across the fields of Neurobiology and Haematology, with an interest in understanding how disturbances in blood flow affect the brain and other organs after injury. Maithili leads a team of six scientists who focus on developing therapies that target cells lining blood vessels, known as endothelial cells, with the aim of protecting organs after injury by improving function of these cells.

She has a keen interest in promoting gender equity and diversity in STEM and in advocating for better systems to ensure retention of women with carer responsibilities in the academic workforce. She is a founding member and served as deputy chairperson of the Monash Central Clinical School Gender Equity, Diversity and Inclusion Committee from 2018-2020. She is passionate about science communication and was recently admitted to the Australian Cardiovascular Alliance ‘Cardiovascular Champions’ Program. Maithili maintains a strong community focus, and actively promotes STEM to children, with a special emphasis on inspiring young girls as a ‘CSIRO STEM Professionals in Schools’ partner. She completed a PhD from the University of Melbourne and a BSc Hons degree from the University of Cape Town, South Africa (2003), prior to which she lived in India.

Dr Charlie Morgan

Dharug Country, Land of the Burramattagal people | He/Him

Dr Charlie Morgan

Charlie is a research scientist and program leader in the Translational Vectorology Research Unit at the Children’s Medical Research Institute (CMRI). His research seeks to develop transformative gene therapies to treat rare genetic diseases of the central nervous system. Together with the unit, he collaborates with academic, clinical, and industry partners across Australia, USA, and Europe.

As a postdoctoral researcher at the Laboratory of Molecular Biology, University of Cambridge (UK), he led a Blue Skies collaboration with AstraZeneca and served on the executive committee of the Postdoc Society of Cambridge. He worked to highlight challenges faced by ECRs to university administrators and increase opportunities for ECRs to develop community, teaching experience, and career development.

He is a passionate about science education and can often be found volunteering at science festival and classrooms, lecturing, and mentoring junior researchers. He was a Mirzayan Science Policy Fellow at the National Academy of Sciences (USA) where he worked on the Board of Science Education.

He earned his PhD in Chemical Biology from the University of California San Francisco, USA. There he developed his love of science education with the Science & Health Education Partnership. Charlie moved to Australia in 2021 to follow his partner, who is also a EMCR and lecturer.

Dr Emily Finch

Land of the Wurundjeri people of the Kulin Nation  | She/Her

Dr Emily Finch

Dr Emily Finch shoots x-rays at stuff. Emily is a Beamline Scientist at the Australian Synchrotron and is part of a team building new machinery that will shoot a beam of x-rays at all kinds of samples to learn about their structure and chemistry. Once this beamline is built, Emily will work with scientists from around the world to solve scientific problems like toxins in soil and how drugs are absorbed by the body.

Emily is also a geologist, and researches ways to target critical minerals needed for technologies such as solar panels and electric cars, by studying how elements move around Earth’s crust. This work is becoming increasingly important as the known supply of minerals needed to make green technologies is shrinking and current methods of exploration cannot keep up with increasing demand. By understanding how elements move around the crust, researchers like Emily can better predict where to explore for them.

After completing her PhD in geosciences at Monash University, Emily worked in science policy at the Australian Council of Learned Academies and the Academy of Technology and Engineering, where she provided evidence-based policy advice to government. She was proud to work on the Women in STEM Decadal Plan: a project to attract more women into science, technology, engineering, and maths (STEM) careers, and to support women to have great STEM careers. This project ignited Emily’s passion for improving equity and inclusion for minority groups in STEM workplaces.

Emily is a 2021-2022 Science and Technology Australia Superstar of STEM.

Dr Emma Burrows

Land of the Wurundjeri people, Kulin Nation | She/Her

Dr Emma Burrows

Emma is neuroscientist at The Florey Institute of Neuroscience and Mental Health. She leads a team of enthusiastic people to better understand the links between neurogenetics and behaviour to improve diagnosis, management and treatment of a range of brain conditions including autism and dementia. Emma is emerging world leader in the use of mouse touchscreen testing to assess cognition in mice expressing patient-associated gene variants. Her team use this sophisticated behavioral analysis to assess cognitive domains in mice in similar ways to clinical methods of assessment. Her recent work was the first reverse-translation of a clinical attention task for use in mice. Her team are also using suite of behavioural tools to dissect neural mechanisms underlying social and verbal communication. Emma hopes a greater understanding of brain differences will deliver awareness and better management, and ultimately improve the lives of people living with brain conditions.

Emma is passionate about advancing equity in science and leads local and national efforts to change the culture of academia to one where more people can thrive. Emma has held positions on the board of Women in STEMM Australia and as chair of her institution’s equity committee. She is a current and co-founding member of Women in Science Parkville Precinct and recently led a national conversation and Theo Murphey Thinktank to co-design a STEMM system where everyone’s talent is rewarded. Emma dedicates time and energy to mentoring, outreach and science communication. Her recent venture, promoting the benefits of physical activity on brain health, is a human-sized rainbow hamster wheel, part living lab, part installation and is one of the pieces exhibited at Science Gallery in Melbourne.

Dr Rowan Trebilco

Nipuluna Country in Lutruwita, traditional lands of the Muwineena people | He/Him

Dr Rowan Trebilco

Rowan is a Team Leader in the Coasts & Ocean Research Program with CSIRO Oceans & Atmosphere, and he co-leads the Environmental Change and Adaptation research theme in the Centre for Marine Socioecology at the University of Tasmania. He has an interdisciplinary background and uses his expertise in marine systems ecology and natural resource management to support sustainable management of marine social-ecological systems, working at the interface between science, decision-making and environmental stewardship. The main focus of his work is currently assessing status, trends, risks and opportunities for marine social-ecological systems and on developing strategies for climate change adaptation.

Rowan has worked in Australia, Europe and America across ecosystem assessment, theoretical ecosystem ecology, statistical and mechanistic modelling, fisheries and natural resource management, including several years of fieldwork above and below temperate, tropical, and Southern oceans. He graduated with a BSc (Hons) in Zoology from the University of Tasmania in 2004, completed an MSc in Biodiversity Conservation and Management as a Rhodes Scholar at Oxford (2007-2008) and a PhD in Biology (Marine Ecology) as a Vanier Scholar at Simon Fraser University in Canada (2009-2014). He found his way back to his home state of Tasmania as Research Fellow with the Antarctic Climate and Ecosystems Cooperative Research Centre in 2014, where he was based until moving to CSIRO in 2019.

Rowan is passionate about supporting inclusive, equitable, sustainable and flexible STEM careers and work-life balance. He’s a dad to two rambunctious young daughters (and an equally rambunctious furry four legged adventure companion), bicycle nut, outdoor multi-dabbler, cook, reader of fiction and brewer/appreciator of fermented beverages.

Former members

  • Dr Amber Beavis (2017)
  • Dr Emma Beckett (2018–2020)
  • Dr Nikola Bowden (2014-2017)
  • Associate Professor Michael Bowen (2018-2020)
  • Dr Andrew Brooks (2011-2012)
  • Dr Adrian Carter (2015-2017)
  • Dr Ben Chuwen (2011-2012)
  • Dr Hamish Clarke (2016-2018)
  • Dr Michael Crichton (2015 -2016)
  • Dr Michelle Dunstone (2011-2012)
  • Dr Raelene Endersby (2011-2014)
  • Associate Professor Drew Evans (2016-2019)
  • Dr Krystal Evans (2011-2014)
  • Dr Marguerite (Maggie) Evans-Galea (Founding Chair, 2011-2013)
  • Professor Andreas Fouras (2014-2015)
  • Dr Margaret (Maggie) Hardy (2013-2015)
  • Dr Roslyn Hickson (2015-2016)
  • Dr Kate Hoy (2013-2015)
  • Dr Giampiero Iaffaldano (2012-2013)
  • Dr Oliver Jones (2013-2014)
  • Dr Rosemary Keogh (2011-2012)
  • Dr Róisín McMahon (2017- 2018)
  • Dr Adrian Murdock (2018 - 2020)
  • Dr Elizabeth New (2016-2017)
  • Dr Alexie Papanicolaou (2019-2020)
  • Dr Rachel Popelka-Filcoff (2014-2015)
  • Dr Gina Ravenscroft (2018-2019)
  • Dr Carly Rosewarne (2016-2018)
  • Dr Darren Saunders (Deputy Chair, 2011-2013)
  • Dr Irene Suarez-Martinez (2017-2020)
  • Dr Andrew Siebel (2011-2015)
  • Associate Professor Sharath Sriram (2013-2016)
  • Dr Justine Shaw (2018–2020)
  • Dr Jackson Thomas (2017)
  • Dr James Tickner (2011-2013)
  • Associate Professor Vanessa Wong (2018-2020)
  • Dr Jinzshe (James) Gong (2019-2021)
  • Dr Michelle Christie (2019-2021)
  • Dr Patrick Taggart (2021)
  • Dr Zsuzsa Banhalmi-Zakar (Co-Deputy Chair, 2019-2021)
  • Dr Mary McMillan (2021)

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