EMCR Forum executive members

2023 executive

Dr Mohammad Taha (Chair)

Naarm, Wurundjeri Land | They/Them

Dr Jinzhe Gong

Mohammad is a multidisciplinary researcher exploring the frontiers of materials science, sustainability, and electronic engineering. With a passion for unravelling the mysteries of phase-changing materials, they strive to apply their findings in exciting fields like photonics and sustainable systems. Driven by the belief that a profound understanding of phenomena can unlock untapped potential, they are dedicated to delivering ground-breaking outcomes in their diverse areas of expertise.

Beyond their scientific pursuits, Mohammad is a staunch advocate for the LGBTQIA+ community, working tirelessly to support and empower their fellow members. Their commitment to inclusivity and diversity extends beyond the lab, creating a positive impact on both their academic environment and society as a whole.

As a true wordsmith, Mohammad expresses their creativity through various forms of writing. From thought-provoking poetry and captivating fiction to insightful nonfiction pieces, their written work showcases the depth of their intellect and imagination. Additionally, they have a keen interest in the world of film and contribute their exceptional writing and storytelling skills to the cinematic experience. Mohammad's diverse pursuits encompass scientific excellence, social progress, and artistic flair, making them an inspiring force for innovation and positive change.

Associate Professor Angela Laird (Co-Deputy Chair)

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

Dr Angela Laird

Angela is an A/Prof 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 Charlie Morgan (Co-Deputy Chair)

Ngambri and Ngunawal Country | He/Him

Dr Charlie Morgan

Charlie is a Research Strategist in the Research School of Biology at the Australian National University. He supports major research initiatives that are often interdisciplinary and multi-institutional. Working closely with academics, the research committee, and professional staff he contributes to the development of strategic research directions and activities to build research and translation capabilities.

Previously he served as postdoctoral researcher at the Laboratory of Molecular Biology, University of Cambridge (UK). There 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, gain teaching experience and explore non-academic career pathways.

He is passionate about science education and can often be found volunteering at science festivals 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 Chemistry and 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 an EMCR.

Associate Professor Raffaella Demichelis

Whadjuk region of the Noongar Nation | She/Her

Associate Professor Raffaella Demichelis

Raffaella leads an emerging team doing research in computational materials chemistry and geochemistry at Curtin University. Her research spans from the study of materials structure to crystal growth and mineral surface reactivity via developing classical, quantum mechanical, and semi-empirical models. She led landmark research that proves a new and more comprehensive theory explaining how minerals form in aqueous solutions, and solved the problems related to understanding how atoms arrange into a number of mineral structures. Raffaella also contributes to develop software and models that are used in academic and non-academic 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. Aside from her research, she spreads her enthusiasm for science through engaging with outreach and community building activities and is an active advocate for change in our national research system through leading local and national groups and initiatives. Since 2021 Raffaella has been an Executive member of the Australian Academy of Science's Early- and Mid-Career (EMCR) Forum, which she chaired in 2022. She co-founded networks in WA aimed to teach software skills to PhD students (through the Software Carpentry project, now under the leadership of the Curtin Institute for Computation) and to grow support and allyship in the chemistry community (the WA Women in Chemistry group, under the auspices of the Royal Australian Chemical Society). She also 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, 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 sustainable and diverse career paths.

Raffaella has received national and international recognition for her research and community engagement through being a 2020 WA Young Tall Poppy awardee and the recipient of the 2015 Caglioti prize (Italian Academy of Science), the 2022 F.G. Houtermans Award (European Association of Geochemistry), and the 2023 Dorothy Hill Medal (Australian Academy of Science).

Dr Vanessa Moss

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 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 Maithili Sashindranath

Wurundjeri region of the Kulin Nation | She/Her

Dr Maithili Sashindranath

Maithili is the State Project Manager for the Australian Centre for Excellence in Melanoma Imaging and Diagnosis (ACEMID) and Deputy Laboratory Head at Monash University’s Australian Centre for Blood Diseases (ACBD). A biomedical scientist who works across the fields of Neurobiology and Haematology, Maithili has recently transitioned into the field of clinical project management.

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 member of the NHMRC Women in Health Sciences committee, which develops strategies to improve the participation, retention, and progression of women in health and medical research. 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.

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 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.

Dr Li Gao

Land of the Bunurong people, Kulin Nation | He/him

Dr Li Gao

Li is a Research Strategist at South East Water, focusing on industry-based strategic research and IP portfolio management. He is also an Australian Research Council inaugural Industry Fellow, where he studies resource recovery technology to transform Australian water utilities with the circular economy.

Li has a keen interest in connecting the ‘blue sky research’ from research organisations with the ‘real application’ in the industry sectors, bringing real benefits to the community. As an EMCR with a strong industry background, he is really passionate about driving collaborations/interactions between EMCRs and the industry sectors. He believes this will support EMCRs to gain deeper insights into industry sectors and broaden their career pathways, which is in alignment with EMCR Forum objectives and Australian national research initiatives (e.g., ARC Industry Fellowship, industry PhD program, ARC Linkage schemes, etc.). At the personal level, Li has substantial volunteer experience, including the Chair for Victorian Water Panel (Engineers Australia) and Board Director at Membrane Society of Australasia.

Associate Professor Tomoko Sugiura

Land of the Ngunnawal and Ngambri people | She/Her 

Associate Professor Tomoko Sugiura

Tomoko joined the ANU in 2022 to establish the Health Data Analytics team (HDAT), College of Health and Medicine (CHM). Earlier this year, Tomoko successfully delivered analyses contributing to the first stage of a Workforce Prioritisation Plan, in partnership with Capital Health Network, and Health Practitioners Profiles in partnership with the ACT Health Directorate. Prior to joining the ANU, Tomoko led teams at the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare and the Department of Health and Aged Care in executive roles. She has extensive experience in innovative use of data to inform public service decision making and leading teams from diverse professional and academic backgrounds. She has been a custodian of many Australian administrative datasets, championed data use, led the work on developing data strategies and data governance frameworks, and has supported many expert data advisory groups.

Through her work on the Closing the Gap program and in intergovernmental committees, Tomoko has well-developed relationships within the Australian Public Service, jurisdictional health departments, professional peak bodies such as NACCHO, and research and community organisations.

Tomoko has worked successfully in Asia and in Australia across the private sector, not-for-profit sector, the public service and academic institutions. As a management consultant, she led teams delivering geospatial market analysis for pharmaceutical companies entering Asia-Pacific markets. Tomoko’s teams identified market potential for different therapy areas in Japan, China, South Korea, Vietnam, Australia and New Zealand and assisted clients make critical decisions about optimal allocation of sales workforce resources.

Tomoko has a Bachelor of Sciences with honours in psychology and a PhD in Psychology from the University of New South Wales. Her PhD research explored ways in which adjustment to new environment affected work and academic performance of international managers and students, respectively. During her time at the National Institute of Mental Health in Japan, she contributed to epidemiological studies and published in peer reviewed journals. Tomoko has taught post-graduate courses in research methods and intercultural communication at UTS.

Ms Mibu Fischer

Quandamooka Country | She/Her

Ms Mibu Fischer

Mibu is a marine ethnoecologist in the Sustainable Marine Futures Research Program at CSIRO Environment. She looks for ways to integrate and respect Indigenous & Traditional Peoples’ knowledge and science specifically in fisheries, climate change and restoration practices. Educating STEM professionals on the importance of respecting, engaging and acknowledging the knowledge and science of Indigenous and Traditional Peoples is in addition to her work as a researcher.

Mibu is passionate about diversity in STEM, with a particular interest in increasing the representation of Indigenous voices (both nationally and internationally). She informally mentors young Indigenous women who are interested in marine/environmental science and always has time to provide a safe space to chat about the challenges that exist for Indigenous researchers who work within the Indigenous science space, by providing compassion and common ground that exists around cultural complexities and worldviews when working in a western focussed system.

She is equally as passionate about science communication. As a team member for That’s What I Call Science, Mibu works with a group of ECRs to produce STEMM podcasts and related events, like the Diversity in STEMM Gallery. She has participated in numerous panel discussions around the inclusion of Indigenous people in research and the importance of recognising Indigenous Knowledge. Mibu has appeared in Channel 10’s Scope television show and has written several articles including for CSIROBlog, Subak Australia and Australian Strategic Policy Institutes ‘The Strategist’.

Dr Jordan Pitt

Kaurna Country | He/Him

Dr Jordan Pitt

Jordan is descendant of the Birri Gubba people and Lecturer at the University of Adelaide in applied mathematics. Jordan completed his PhD at the Australian National University in 2019 developing numerical techniques used in modelling the impact of tsunamis and storm surges. His current research focuses on developing mathematical models of the interaction between ocean waves and sea ice, which influences the annual growth and melt of sea ice and thus the Earth’s climate. This research combines Jordan’s passion for mathematics and his love of water and the way it moves, which is at the heart of many issues facing society and some of the most complex problems in mathematics.

Jordan is deeply committed to improving inclusion of all peoples in Science and STEM more broadly. This deep commitment comes from his own experience as a First Nation’s person working in both academia and government. He also believes in the necessity of a diversity of voices at the table to make meaningful progress on society’s largest challenges, such as climate change. For this reason, he is currently sitting on the board of Australian Earth-System Simulator as their First Nations representative. Jordan also hopes to see more mob doing science, and better appreciation of the science that mob are already doing, such as their Traditional Knowledges.

Dr Isabella Bower

Kaurna Country | She/Her

Dr Isabella Bower

Isabella is Postdoctoral Research Fellow at the University of South Australia working in the field of environmental cognitive neuroscience. Her research explores whether we can improve brain functioning and mental health through built environment design. During her doctoral thesis she investigated how building design impacts cognitive functions such as perception, attention, and emotion regulation.

Prior to her current position, Isabella has worked at Deakin University, The University of Melbourne and in the Victorian State Government. She joined the EMCR Forum Executive in 2023 and is also currently on the Steering Committee for the Australian Brain Alliance EMCR Brain Sciences Network and is a General Member of the Australasian Cognitive Neuroscience Society ECR Committee.

Isabella brings experience working across the life and social sciences, with the rather unique perspective of crossing disciplines and sectors during her career. She is an advocate for the importance of research communication, and has won awards for her public speaking, writing and visualisations. She has also previously served as President for Students of Brain Research and Chief of Staff for Pint of Science Australia.

Former members

  • Dr Vipul Agarawal (2021–2022)
  • Dr Zsuzsa Banhalmi-Zakar (Co-Deputy Chair, 2019–2021)
  • 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 Emma Burrows (2022)
  • Dr Adrian Carter (2015–2017)
  • Dr Yee Lin Chew (2020–2022, Chair 2021)
  • Dr Michelle Christie (2019–2021)
  • 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)
  • Dr Emily Finch (2022)
  • Professor Andreas Fouras (2014–2015)
  • Dr Jinzshe (James) Gong (2019–2021)
  • 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 Mary McMillan (2021)
  • 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)
  • Dr Justine Shaw (2018–2020)
  • Associate Professor Sharath Sriram (2013–2016)
  • Dr Patrick Taggart (2021)
  • Dr Jackson Thomas (2017)
  • Dr James Tickner (2011–2013)
  • Associate Professor Vanessa Wong (2018–2020)

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