A/Prof Hannah Power

University of Newcastle
Research Field: Coastal Science, Marine Science

Coast around the world are being impacted by the changing climate and will experience more frequent and severe coastal erosion and flooding events. This means we need to use the best available science to manage our coasts and preserve these unique environments.

Hannah’s research aims to better understand the processes that drive change on our coasts and coastal hazards like extreme waves. The outcomes from her research will drive better coastal management processes in the face of climate change and enhanced safety outcomes for coastal communities.

Hannah has been interviewed for renowned  news outlets such as BBC World News, Al Jazeera and ABC National Radio breakfast. She has also participated in Pint of Science Festivals in 2016 and 2019, and the CSIRO STEM Professionals in Schools program.

Hannah completed her PhD in 2011 through the University of Queensland and is now an Associate Professor of Coastal and Marine Science at the University of Newcastle.

Dr Orazio Vittorio

UNSW Sydney
Research Field: Cancer Immunology, Neuroblastoma

Neuroblastoma is one of the deadliest childhood cancers, with poor survival rates despite intensive therapy. Immunotherapy – a treatment that works through the stimulation of a patient’s immune system – has offered real hope for some tumours. However, neuroblastoma can shield itself from current immunotherapies.

Dr Vittorio aims to understand what makes neuroblastoma so aggressive and resistant to immunotherapies. He discovered that neuroblastoma is dependent on copper for growth and uses it to hide from and escape immune system attack. As an exciting advancement of his research, Dr Vittorio is studying drugs which remove excess copper from the body, enabling a boost in the immune response to neuroblastoma.

Orazio’s passionate science communication spans radio, newspapers and television interviews. He has been given regular public lectures and school presentation about the importance of cancer research. He organised a series of Zoom talks for primary school students to improve awareness of STEM subjects.

Orazio received his PhD from the University of Pisa in 2011 and he is currently a NHMRC Fellow and Senior Lecturer at the University of New South Wales and Team Leader at the Children’s Cancer Institute.   

Dr Brett Scholz

Australian National University
Research Field: Consumer, Health Systems

Health systems co-produced with or led by consumers provide more relevant, safer, and innovative care. However, there are barriers to such involvement and resistance to a paradigm shift that positions consumers as experts in the health system.

Brett’s research program explores ways in which barriers to consumer leadership can be overcome to facilitate consumer-led health policy, health services, health education and health research. In fact, much of his research is conducted together with consumer co-authors and goes beyond traditional outreach by bringing consumers into all stages of research conceptualisation, production and dissemination.

Dr Scholz’s research on end-of-life care was used to establish the Tiered Consumer Engagement Model for Palliative Care in ACT Health and was integral to the development of the ACT COVID-19 Intensive Care Triage Process. He is the co-founder and co-editor of The Operative Word – the podcast of the International Society of Critical Health Psychology which has increased worldwide engagement with critical health psychology.

He completed his PhD in 2015 at The University of Adelaide. He is currently a Senior Research Fellow in the ANU Medical School at The Australian National University.

Dr Fabien Vincent

Monash University
Research Field: Immunology

The health disparity between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians is a national tragedy. Dr Vincent’s research tackles a devastating autoimmune disease called ‘lupus’. For reasons unknown, lupus is two to four times more common (and more severe) in Indigenous Australians. His vision is to unravel the reasons for this and use this knowledge to improve the lives of Indigenous Australians with lupus. 

To do this, Dr Vincent and his team take blood from patients and measure many thousands of genes and proteins. Using complex data analysis methods, known as bioinformatics, they analyse all these blood markers at once. This study is a first to establish a national Indigenous lupus registry and biobank. This will allow doctors in the near future to find the right drug for the right patient. 

Fabien has successfully engaged with the media to raise awareness of autoimmune diseases, publishing many articles in The Conversation, participating in radio and TV interviews and in a film documentary about lupus.

Dr Vincent completed his PhD in immunology at Monash University in 2018 and is currently a NHMRC Emerging Leadership Fellow at Monash University.

A/Prof James Trauer

Monash University
Research Field: Health policy, Epidemiology, Modelling

The COVID-19 pandemic has been an unprecedented threat, not just to human health, but to all aspects of our society and economy. From early 2020, Dr Trauer has supported the Victorian Government and many countries of the Asia-Pacific Region to understand and address the epidemic. 

During Victoria’s second pandemic wave from winter 2020, Dr Trauer’s group provided regular projections of the burden of cases, deaths and health service requirements. In collaboration with the World Health Organization Western Pacific Region, his group provided regular support and projections for Malaysia and the Philippines, extending to countries of South East Asia. They have been aiming to improve in-country expertise for epidemiological modelling and improve preparedness for future pandemics. James has also overseen the development of a robust, transparent and publicly available software platform for constructing infectious diseases models.

Dr Trauer has been regularly interviewed by both local and international media on the Covid pandemic and he has written for The Conversation.

James was awarded his PhD in 2016 from the University of Melbourne. He is currently the Head of the Epidemiological Modelling Unit (School of Public Health and Preventive Medicine), Monash University.

Jane Tiller

Monash University
Research Field: Genetic Discrimination

Genetic testing can save lives through preventing diseases such as cancer. However, Australian life-insurance companies can legally use applicants’ genetic test results to decline cover or increase policy cost. Research shows genetic discrimination fears deter at-risk individuals from clinical testing and research participation, creating significant barriers to research, clinical outcomes and precision-medicine initiatives. Many countries restrict or ban insurers’ access to genetic test results. 

 Jane Tiller is a lawyer, genetic counsellor and bioethics researcher with a passion for consumer protection in this area and has conducted research to gather evidence about genetic discrimination in Australia. 

Jane has lobbied government; spoken to media (print, online, radio and TV); presented at professional and consumer conferences; engaged with patient support groups, international researchers and other stakeholders and given evidence to a Parliamentary Inquiry to campaign for greater government oversight.  As a result, the life-insurance industry introduced a partial moratorium (ban) on using genetic test results in underwriting in 2019. Jane now leads a national project to monitor its effectiveness for consumer protection and make recommendations to enable evidence-based implementation of policy to empower preventive genomic medicine.

Jane is an Ethical, Legal & Social Adviser in Public Health Genomics at Monash University.

Dr Sarah Stephenson

Murdoch Children Research Institute
Research Field: Epilepsy, Genetics

Epilepsy is a serious brain disorder that typically presents in childhood and is associated with cognitive, intellectual and behavioural disabilities and an increased risk of sudden death. In some children, seizures cannot be fully controlled by medication. A major cause of drug-resistant epilepsy is a malformation of cortical development (MCD), which accounts for ~50% of childhood epilepsies that require surgery. Surgery to remove the dysplastic tissue is often the only effective treatment to control seizures in these individuals. 

Dr Stephenson and her team have established one of the world’s largest biorepositories of surgically resected MCD tissue, enabling advanced methods to deduce the composition of lesions and identify the molecular mechanisms of seizures. Sarah’s innovative analyses of resected brain tissue will drive understanding of the dysregulated brain functions underlying epilepsy, facilitate personalised medicine and better care for patients.

In 2018 Sarah co-founded Queers In Science to encourage an inclusive environment for LGBTIQA+professionals and students in STEMM.

Sarah completed her PhD in 2015 at the University of Melbourne. She is now currently a team leader within the neurogenetics group at Murdoch Children’s Research Institute.

Dr Freya Shearer

University of Melbourne
Research Field: Infectious Disease, Epidemiology

Dr Shearer’s work is focused on mitigating the impact of infectious diseases on society by integrating approaches from mathematical and statistical modelling and decision science. Since January 2020, I have been using models to assist Australian and regional governments to respond to COVID-19. Her team performs real-time monitoring of SARS-CoV-2 transmissibility by estimating the “effective reproduction number” for states/territories and we recently estimated the impacts of different vaccination-prioritisation strategies on transmission and clinical outcomes to inform Australia’s national re-opening plan. 

Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic she has provided commentary on SARS-CoV-2 epidemiology and the scientific evidence underpinning Australia’s response. In July 2020, I was interviewed on the ABC’s 7:30, close to the peak of the Victorian second epidemic wave. She is also a “#LivingWithCOVIDExpert” for a project supported by the Victorian Secondary Schools Representative Council that provides young people with accurate information on COVID-19 through a social media campaign.

Freya completed her PhD at the University of Oxford in 2018 and she is currently a Senior Research Fellow at the Melbourne School of Population and Global Health, The University of Melbourne.

Prof Florian Mueller

Monash University
Research Field: Human-Computer Interactions

Traditional computer games make us sedentary and contribute to the global obesity epidemic. Prof. Mueller is changing this paradigm by researching the area of human-computer interaction (HCI), which involves greater physical exertion as a way of encouraging players to be more active. 

The research Prof. Mueller conducts has helped industry and academia to understand how to integrate physical exertion into the design of human-computer interactions. The outcome of his research is a healthier, happier and more playful technology future. Industry examples of the success of this type of approach can be seen in games such as Pokemon Go and Ring Fit Adventure.

Prof. Mueller’s research has been featured in the New Scientist, The Age, Herald Sun, BBC, Discovery Channel, Channel 7, 9, 10, and the ABC. He also promoted science through his new interface games at Wired’s NextFest in San Francisco, USA.

Prof. Mueller received his PhD in 2012 from the University of Melbourne, and is now Professor of Future Interfaces at Monash University, and director of the Exertion Games Lab.

Dr Rachel Hill

Monash University
Research Field: Neuroscience, Mental Health

Schizophrenia is a devastating psychiatric illness that debilitates people for life. Current treatments for schizophrenia are largely ineffective and have severe side effects and thus better treatment options are urgently needed.

A/Prof. Hill is using cutting edge neuroscience technologies to understand what is happening in the brains of people with schizophrenia. She has identified key brain cells and molecules that are altered in schizophrenia and is developing new targeted therapies to recover brain changes.

A/Prof Hill is a neuroscience ambassador for the ‘HOPE’ campaign of the Victorian non-for-profit, One in Five, bringing hope to people with a mental illness through research. She has given multiple public lectures on biological research in the mental health space. She has led school outreach programs and has been a leading voice in the community through multiple media campaigns including mainstream media (ABC television and radio), and pedestrian TV (both Fairfax and Newscorp mastheads).

Rachel completed her PhD in 2007 at Monash University and is currently head of the Behavioural Neuroscience program in the Department of Psychiatry at Monash University.