Discursive Theatre (Room B080-05-012), RMIT City Campus, 445 Swanston St, Melbourne

International Women’s Day Discussion Panel


International Women’s Day Panel Discussion: Inspire Inclusion in Academic Research

This year’s International Women’s Day 2024 campaign theme is ‘Inspire Inclusion’. “When we inspire others to understand and value women’s inclusion, we forge a better world. And when women themselves are inspired to be included, there’s a sense of belonging, relevance, and empowerment. Collectively, let’s forge a more inclusive world for women.” (https://www.internationalwomensday.com).

Australian Research Council (ARC) Industrial Transformation Research Initiatives have joined forces to host the 2024 International Women’s Day Panel Discussion on the theme of Inspire Inclusion in Academic Research.

Special guest speaker will be Associate Professor Harriet Whiley (Flinders University),  who will present on how she was inspired, and how she continues to inspire others on her journey in academia and academic research.

Join us for an insightful panel discussion and hear from a range of female researchers, including Professor Jia-Yee Lee (University of Melbourne), Dr Indu Chandrashekaran (Monash University), Dr Bhavna Middha (RMIT University), Dr Jana Zielinski (University of Melbourne), Dr Alka Rani Batra (Environment Protection Authority Victoria (EPA)), moderated by Ms Vesna Stefanovski (Swinburne University).

This International Women’s Day Panel Discussion is proudly supported by the following ARC Industrial Transformation Research Initiatives: ARC Training Centre for Biofilm Research and Innovation, ARC Training Centre in Surface Engineering for Advanced Materials (SEAM), ARC Training Centre for Medical Implant Technologies (CMIT), ARC Training Centre for Fragment-Based Design (CFBD), ARC Training Centre for the Transformation of Australia’s Biosolids Resource, ARC Training Centre for Personalised Therapeutics Technologies (CPTT), and ARC Research Hub for Transformation of Reclaimed Waste Resources to Engineered Materials and Solutions for a Circular Economy (TREMS).


Speakers Biographies

Associate Professor Harriet Whiley is an academic in Environmental Health and Deputy Director of the ARC Training Centre for Biofilm Research and Innovation. As an environmental microbiologist and accredited Environmental Health Officer her research is aimed at informing best practice control of microbes to protect human health. She is passionate about collaborative research with industry and government partners to facilitate the feedback loop between research, regulation, and practice. Her research areas include infection control, biofilms, water quality, food safety and risk assessment. Associate Professor Whiley is a member of the Department of the Home Affairs Independent Medical Advisor Panel (HAIMAP), the National Health Medical Research Council (NHMRC) Water Quality Advisory Committee and the National Legionella Management Advisory Group.

Professor Jia-Yee Lee, inaugural Director, Centre for Advanced Defence Research and Enterprise (CADRE-OCE) at University of Melbourne, is recognised for her expertise in medical research, industry engagement, technology start-ups, commercialisation, and strategy development. She works with the Australian Defence “Operating in Chemical, Biological, Radiological and Nuclear Environments” (OCE) STaR Shot program to foster industry-academic-defence engagement for research translation of novel sensing technologies. Professor Lee is on the Steering Committee of BridgeTech that is hosted at Queensland University of Technology, and Executive Management Committee of the ARC Training Centre for Medical Implant Technologies at University of Melbourne. Jia-Yee was formerly Director, Health and Life Science Business Team at National ICT Australia (now Data61, CSIRO) and was responsible for translating research in “Diagnostic Genomics”, “Assistive Technologies” and “Biomedical Informatics”. She has led NHMRC-funded projects at the Victorian Infectious Diseases Reference Laboratory and Macfarlane Burnet Centre (now Burnet Institute).

Dr Indu Chandrashekaran is a senior research fellow at the ARC Centre for Fragment-Based Design, Monash University. She specialises in biophysical characterisation of biomolecules of therapeutic interest. After completing a PhD in Biophysics from Jawaharlal Nehru University in India, Indu relocated to Australia to undertake postdoctoral training at WEHI and later at Monash University. During her postdoctoral research, Indu has contributed to several drug discovery projects, presented her research at international conferences and published over 27 peer-reviewed papers. Indu is interested in understanding how biomolecular structure dictates function and develop small molecules that modulate those functions. Her goal is to help generate transformative therapeutics that will provide improved patient outcomes. Indu is a strong advocate of gender equity and inclusion in STEM and is passionate about addressing the barriers faced by women in STEM. In 2023, she was selected to participate in the veski inspiring women STEM sidebyside program.

Dr Alka Rani Batra completed her Bachelor of Biotechnology and Masters of Microbial Biotechnology from Panjab University, Chandigarh, India. She pursued her Ph.D. degree in Applied Biology and Biotechnology from RMIT University under the supervision of Professor Andy Ball. She recently defended and archived her thesis. In her Ph.D. she researched in the field of advanced molecular and microbiology field. Her thesis was focused on the development and evaluation of a point-of-care molecular assay for the detection Escherichia coli O157:H7 in food and beverages. Alka has always been passionate about public health and their well-being. Therefore, she was always keen to work within the public sector where she can gain more insight and experience in understanding the big picture of how government bodies work to prevent and reduce the harmful effects of pollution and waste on the public. She joined EPA in 2023 as an intern and then successfully secured a full-time role as a Project Officer.

Ms Jana Zielinski graduated from the University of Melbourne in 2020 with a Bachelor of Science majoring in Pharmacology. She received her Honours degree in 2021 under the supervision of Prof. Alastair Stewart, with the thesis titled: “The Art and Artefact of Static Culture”, in which she investigated the paradigm of increased pro-inflammatory cytokine expression after treatment with Non-Steroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs in static cell culture and the phenomenon of IL-1-induced epithelial-mesenchymal transition in A549 cells. Jana then began her PhD in 2022 with Prof. Alastair Stewart focusing on the characterisation of Casein Kinase 1 delta in circadian rhythm and breast and lung cancer tumorigenesis.

Dr Bhavna Middha is an environmental sociologist and an urban researcher at the Centre for Urban Research at RMIT University. Her main research area is sustainable consumption, which she has investigated through topics such as food, energy and waste. Focusing on spatialities and just transitions, Bhavna’s work has explored and advanced the practice perspective in the design of everyday life and sustainable consumption. Bhavna’s undergraduate degree is in Architecture, which she received in India and she pursued her Masters of Environmental and Urban Planning and her PhD in Sustainable food consumption at RMIT University. Bhavna has been awarded the prestigious Australian Research Council funded DECRA fellowship, which she will be starting in 2024. Her DECRA research titled, “Tackling food-related single-use plastics in diverse consumption contexts”  aims to investigate the uneven impacts of interventions that target consumers’ engagement with single-use food plastics by utilising critical social science approaches. Bhavna is currently the Research Fellow in the ARC Industrial training and research hub for Transformation of Reclaimed Waste Resources to Engineered Materials and Solutions for a Circular Economy (TREMS). As part of the hub, she is researching the social and policy dimensions of waste minimisation, production, consumption and management.

Ms Vesna Stefanovski is currently the Manager for Major Research Awards, with the Research Services team at Swinburne University of Technology. She has a Bachelor of Arts degree with further education in Public Relations (RMIT University) and University Management (The University of Melbourne). Vesna has extensive experience working in research management across the humanities and STEM disciplines with a range of academics managing a range of research initiatives, grants and awards, with The University of Melbourne and Swinburne University of Technology. She currently manages the Major Initiatives team with Swinburne University working on a range of projects across a number of disciplines. Vesna has worked with Early Career Researchers for over fifteen years and in that time has mentioned and supported a number of young women researchers and her passion is to continue to encourage women and girls to have equal opportunities to build their capabilities and strengthen their capacity to become future leaders across a range of organisations and institutes. Vesna is an avid supporter of women academics and is always looking at ways to inspire and support future female research leaders so they can become changemakers and reform systems and remove barriers to make way for the next generation of female academic leaders to realise their full potential.


Associate Professor Harriet Whiley, Deputy Director of the ARC Training Centre for Biofilm Research and Innovation


05 March 2024


12:00 pm - 2:00 pm (GMT+10)
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Discursive Theatre (Room B080-05-012), RMIT City Campus, 445 Swanston St, Melbourne

Discursive Theater (Room B080-05-012)
RMIT City Campus
445 Swanston St, Melbourne
Get tickets here

Or join online via https://arcse.am/teamsitrpiwd

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