EMCR Forum executive members

2019 executive

Dr Vanessa Wong (Chair)

Dr Vanessa Wong

Vanessa is a soil scientist and Senior Lecturer in the School of Earth, Atmosphere and Environment at Monash University. She completed her PhD at the Australian National University and then worked as a research scientist at Geoscience Australia and Southern Cross University. Her research broadly focuses on soil chemistry, and looks at the interactions between soils, sediments and water. She works in both agricultural environments, assessing the effects of land degradation, and potential remediation options, and natural environments, seeking to understand biogeochemical cycling in wetland soils.

She is keen to communicate the importance of soils to society, and regularly organises outreach events and gives talks to the general public on this topic. She is a Certified Professional Soil Scientist (CPSS) and has been involved in the executive committees in Soil Science Australia and the Australian Regolith Geoscientists Association.

Associate Professor Drew Evans (Deputy Chair)

Associate Professor Drew Evans

Associate Professor Drew Evans is a passionate advocate for high-tech manufacturing in Australia. After completing his PhD at the Australian National University, he worked for a private R&D company on new digital print technology before returning to academia. His team at the University of South Australia’s Future Industries Institute researches thin film materials science and translates it into commercial reality with industry partners—such as the world’s first plastic automotive mirror, of which more than three million have been exported to the US. Associate Professor Evans holds a Future Fellowship from the Australian Research Council to research plastic that conducts electricity. In parallel with this are commercial projects to integrate these polymers into new agriculture and biomedical devices. He has published many scientific papers, holds several patents, and is partnered with industry exploring scale-up manufacturing in commercial products. He is a member of the SA Science Council, and was awarded the SA Tall Poppy of the Year award in 2013 and the BioSA Young Achiever Award in 2016.

Dr Emma Beckett

Dr Emma Beckett

Emma is an NHMRC Early Career Fellow at the University of Newcastle, working in the field of molecular nutrition, studying gene-nutrient-environment interactions. She a multi-faceted research background, with qualifications and experience in food science, nutrition, epidemiology, science management, biomedical sciences, immunology and microbiology. 

Emma completed her PhD, in 2016, as a joint project between the University of Newcastle and the CSIRO.  She attended the 65th Lindau Nobel Laureates Meeting in Germany in 2015, and the 8th HOPE Meeting with Nobel Laureates in Japan in 2016. In 2014 Emma was a Visiting Fellow at the USA National Institute of Environmental and Health Sciences (NIEHS).

Emma is also a passionate science communicator. She has written for newspapers and magazines, and appears regularly on local and national radio. Emma’s science communication work focuses on nutrition myth busting and empowering the public to interpret nutrition research. In 2017 she was named as a NSW Young Tall Poppy, in recognition of both her research and communication work. 

Dr Zsuzsa Banhalmi-Zakar

Dr Zsuzsa Banhalmi-Zakar

Zsuzsa is an environmental scientist and lecturer in Corporate Environmental Management at James Cook University in Townsville. She was born and raised in Budapest, Hungary, then studied in Edmonton, Alberta, CA and obtained her PhD from Griffith University, in Brisbane.

Prior to moving to Australia, she worked for Deloitte as senior environmental consultant and this work sparked her interest in pursuing a PhD investigating how environmental issues manifest as financial risks and opportunities in organisations, and particularly in the financial sector. With her colleagues, she conducted the first study into financing climate change adaptation and resilience in Australia, defined this term and continues to work with stakeholders to find ways to tap into private sector funds. Her most recent, exciting endeavour is benchmarking climate change disclosure practices among the top financial institutions of the world.

Zsuzsa is an experienced public speaker and (has been told she is) a great networker, who is able to engage with multiple industry stakeholders. She has three children, and is passionate about supporting women, mothers, and daughters through their careers, PhD and ECR journeys.

Dr Michael Bowen

Dr Michael Bowen

Michael is a NHMRC Doherty Biomedical Fellow and Senior Lecturer at the University of Sydney’s Brain and Mind Centre and School of Psychology. He uses cellular and preclinical techniques to discover and develop novel pharmacotherapies for brain disorders that currently lack effective treatments. Some of his most important work to date is the discovery and development of novel pharmacological treatments targeting the brain oxytocin system that have the potential to treat a range of disorders, from addiction to autism. More recently, he has joined the leadership team of the Lambert Initiative for Cannabinoid Therapeutics.

Some of his recent career highlights include winning the 2016 Eureka Prize for Outstanding Early Career Researcher, the inaugural NSW Premier’s Prize for Early Career Researcher of the Year (2015), and the 2016 International Behavioural Neuroscience Society Early Career Award. In 2016 Michael was inducted into the World Economic Forum’s Young Scientists Community of 50 of the top scientists under the age of 40 from around the world.

Dr Michelle Christie

Dr Michelle Christie

Michelle is a research fellow at the Department of Biochemistry, University of Melbourne. She is originally from Sri Lanka and undertook her PhD studies at the University of Queensland (2010). Following this she undertook postdoctoral research at the University of Queensland and St Vincent’s Institute for Medical Research.

Her research interests are in characterizing protein interactions to understand biology, design novel therapeutics and develop more effective drug and gene delivery systems. In her current research Michelle uses a combination of methods including x-ray crystallography, electron microscopy and protein interaction studies to determine how bacterial toxins punch holes in host membranes. Prior to this her work focused on studying protein interactions related to membrane fusion. She was also involved in developing and characterizing novel peptide-based carriers for gene therapy.

In addition to her research activities she is also passionate about increasing diversity within the STEM community as well as raising awareness about mental health among EMCRs.

Dr Jinze Gong

Dr Jinzhe Gong

Jin is a Postdoctoral Research Fellow at the School of Civil, Environmental and Mining Engineering at the University of Adelaide. Jin is passionate about solving pressing issues in the water industry through innovation. His key research interest and expertise include Smart Water Network design and data analytics, and condition assessment of water pipelines using controlled hydraulic transient waves. Jin currently works as a Senior Research Fellow at the University of Adelaide, and spends two days per week in South Australian Water Corporation to provide technical support to the Adelaide CBD Smart Water Network project. His work has led to a dramatic reduction in the pipe burst rate in the Adelaide CBD water network. One of his research outcomes – a hydraulic transient-based pipe wall condition screening tool – has been successfully commercialized through a business partner under the trademark of p-CAT.

Dr Adrian T Murdock

Dr Adrian T Murdock

Adrian is an OCE Postdoctoral Research Fellow at CSIRO Manufacturing in Sydney. His research focuses on the synthesis of novel nanomaterials, such as graphene, and atomic-scale electron microscopy of these structures. Applications for these nanomaterials range from future energy storage devices to water membranes.

Adrian studied as a John Curtin Undergraduate Scholar at Curtin University and received a BSc in Nanotechnology with First Class Honours, before completing a DPhil in Materials at the University of Oxford through a Commonwealth Postgraduate Scholarship and a Clarendon Research Grant. In 2013 he completed an internship at the Samsung Advanced Institute of Technology in South Korea.

Adrian has broad interests around Australian scientific innovation and impact, science policy, and STEM education, with over 10 years’ experience in teaching and science communication. Amongst other positions he was an associate lecturer in physics; the director of the Curtin University Siemens Science Experience; a school liaison officer and tutor of materials science for St Anne's college at the University of Oxford; and a guest science presenter for BBC radio Oxford.

Dr Alexie Papanicolaou

Dr Alexie Papanicolaou

Alexie (originally from Greece) is a Senior Lecturer in Bioinformatics at the Hawkesbury Institute for the Environment (Western Sydney University). A science nomad, he has worked at the University of Edinburgh in Scotland, the Max Planck Institute for Chemical Ecology in Germany, the Academy of Sciences of the Czech Republic, the University of Exeter in England, and the CSIRO in Australia.

His research focuses on using genome bioinformatics to decode the blueprint of life (mainly insects but also Australian native grasses, anemones, oysters, and pathogenic fungi). He is interested in understanding how this blueprint drives the evolution of molecular mechanisms such as those underpinning butterfly colour patterns, pesticide and chemical detoxification, chemical reception in insects, and increasingly, the responses to environmental stresses such as climate and pollution.

His teaching is focused on Data Science for post-graduates, and he runs an international workshop for Agricultural Genomics in Bangkok. He is interested in public education and as such he produced the Science in A Cup podcast and is a co-director of an Australian non-profit called The Gene School.

He is part of the ALLY network and analysed gender equity data as part of his university’s Athena Swan application team. After joining the Australian Academia in 2015, he is interested in finding methods to help early career scientists develop soft skills and increase awareness around mental health issues for researchers.

Dr Gina Ravenscroft

Dr Gina Ravenscroft

Gina is an NHMRC Career Development Fellow at the Harry Perkins Institute of Medical Research and the University of Western Australia. Her research interests including identifying the underlying genetic causes and disease mechanisms in patients with rare diseases, in particular severe neuromuscular diseases. She finds her research particularly rewarding as the findings are of immediate clinical utility as an accurate genetic diagnosis enables families to access options to avoid having further affected children. She also enjoys working closely with clinical and diagnostic colleagues around the country and internationally. Her research has attracted a number of awards including the World Muscle Society “Young Myologist of the Year” (2016), a WA Young Tall Poppy Award (2016) and the Vice Chancellor’s Research Award for Early Career Researchers (2014). As a mother to two young children she is passionate about issues surrounding retention of women in the workplace and greater flexibility, in particular greater flexibility for people of all genders. She is also passionate about mentoring and career stability for fellows, as such she is a member of the Harry Perkins Institute’s Student and EMCR Committees, a committee member of the UWA Researchers’ Association and the WA representative to the National Association of Research Fellows.

Dr Justine Shaw

Dr Justine Shaw

Justine is a Research Fellow at the Centre for Biodiversity and Conservation Science, The University of Queensland. Her research focus is on the conservation of threatened species, island ecosystems and terrestrial Antarctica. Her current research investigates interactions between indigenous and non-native species, the risks posed by non-native species to Antarctic ecosystems.

Justine obtained her PhD on sub-Antarctic plant ecology from the University of Tasmania (2005). She undertook a postdoctoral fellowship (2007-2010) at the NRF-DST Centre for Excellence for Invasion Biology, Stellenbosch University (South Africa) researching invasion dynamics of sub-Antarctic islands. She has worked for state and federal government as conservation biologist. In 2012 she commenced a postdoctoral fellowship with the ARC Centre for Excellence in Environmental Decisions, UQ. Currently she leads a research project with the National Environmental Science Programme, Threatened Species Recovery Hub (UQ) on island conservation. She has been undertaking field work in the sub-Antarctic for 20 years. She is a mother of one and passionate about gender equity is science. Justine is a co-founder of Women in Polar Science and Homeward Bound - a global women scientists leadership program.

Dr Irene Suarez-Martinez

Irene Suarez-Martinez

Irene is a Senior Research Fellow at the Physics Department in Curtin University. Originally from Spain, Irene completed her PhD from University of Sussex (UK) in 2007. After a post-doc at the Institute of Materials of Nantes (France), she moved to Curtin University for her second post-doc in 2009. The year after, she obtained an ARC Australian Postdoctoral Fellowship (2010-2014). Her first daughter and her current ARC Future Fellowship award arrived almost at the same time in 2014. Her research career has been mainly dedicated to the atomistic modelling of carbon materials. In collaboration with experimental chemists, physicists and engineers, she has investigated graphite, diamond, amorphous carbons and a range of carbon nanomaterials. She has won multiple prizes for her scientific outreach projects and particularly enjoys creating scientific artistic images.

Former members

  • Dr Amber Beavis (2017)
  • Dr Nikola Bowden (2014-2017)
  • 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)
  • Dr Krystal Evans (2011-2014)
  • Dr Marguerite (Maggie) Evans-Galea (Founding Chair, 2011-2013)
  • Professor Andreas Fouras (2014-2015)
  • Dr Margaret (Maggie) Hardy (2013-2016)
  • Dr Roslyn Hickson (2015-2016)
  • Dr Kate Hoy (2013-2016)
  • Dr Giampiero Iaffaldano (2012-2013)
  • Dr Oliver Jones (2012-2014)
  • Dr Rosemary Keogh (2011-2012)
  • Dr Róisín McMahon (2017- 2018)
  • Dr Elizabeth New (2016-2017)
  • Dr Rachel Popelka-Filcoff (2014-2015)
  • Dr Carly Rosewarne (2016-2018)
  • Dr Darren Saunders (Deputy Chair, 2011-2013)
  • Dr Andrew Siebel (2011-2015)
  • Associate Professor Sharath Sriram (2013-2016)
  • Dr Jackson Thomas (2017)
  • Dr James Tickner (2011-2013)

© 2019 Australian Academy of Science

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