December 11, 2018

2019 constellation of Australian superstars of STEM announced

Superstars of STEM aims to smash society’s gender assumptions about scientists and increase the public visibility of women in STEM. The program was created by Science & Technology Australia to create a critical mass of celebrity Australian female scientists and technologists – role models for young women and girls – and to work towards equal representation in the media of women and men working in all fields in STEM.

This morning, the 60 women of the 2019 cohort were announced, selected from hundreds of impressive applicants. This is the second cohort of Superstars, with 30 women completing the  inaugural program. The Superstars will smash gender stereotypes by being public examples of the diverse range of people working in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM), and being role models to encourage girls to consider a career in STEM.

Here at Inspiring South Australia, we’d like to congratulate all of the amazing Superstars of STEM, but especially the two South Australian representatives:

Dr Roberta De Bei

Research Fellow

The University of Adelaide

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Dr Roberta De Bei’s research focuses on helping viticulturists worldwide to improve their vineyard management to consistently produce quality wine.

Despite growing up in the only province of Italy where there is no wine production, Roberta pursued a career in viticulture and she moved to Australia after completing her PhD at the University of Padova.

2018 marked Roberta’s ten years at the University of Adelaide where she is a research fellow, funded by Wine Australia, in the School of Agriculture, Food and Wine of the faculty of Sciences. Her research interests include vine physiology, vine performance and sustainable vineyard management.

Roberta is passionate about delivering practical outcomes for the wine industry and is the co-inventor of a smartphone App that enables real time monitoring of grapevine canopy architecture to improve vineyard management. She won the Australian Women in Wine award for Researcher of the Year in 2016 for her contribution to the Australian wine industry.

Having established a strong network of global collaborators, Roberta is often invited to present her research at national and international forums. She regularly engages grape growers by delivering seminars and organising growers-days; she also communicates her research to students through her teaching, supervision and outreach events.

Roberta has an encyclopaedic knowledge of wine and food, has travelled extensively and speaks four languages.

Dr Melanie Macgregor

Research Fellow

University of South AustraliaMacgregor-Melanie-1-600x400

Dr Melanie MacGregor is renowned for her ground-breaking work in biomaterial nanodesign. Developing tiny devices using plasma coatings, she can capture cancer cells from urine samples, grow stem cells, and in the mining industry improve the recovery of oil and gas.

Melanie earned her Master of Chemical Engineering in France before moving to Australia in 2008 as an intern. By 2013 she had become an Australian citizen, completed a PhD and started a young family. The 33-year-old is a Santos-UCL Research Fellow at the Futures Industries Institute at the University of South Australia.

Her research involves designing surfaces at a minute scale to influence how they interact with their environment – a specialisation that gives us insights into the future of advanced manufacturing.

She has secured several competitive grants to support her research on the capture of cancer cells from urine samples. With a team of 12 scientists, Melanie has helped to develop a non-invasive microfluidic device to detect bladder cancer cells in urine. The team is now undertaking clinical trials using this new, pain-free technique and hope to commercialise the technology.

Melanie is an enthusiastic ambassador of diversity in the STEM sector and reaches out to promote science career pathways to the younger generations. Her community engagement extends through Science Alive!, media interview , primary school STEM education grants, ECR Theo Murphy initiative, social media, lab tour for schools and more.

The quality of her research, innovation and science communication have been recognised through several awards, including the 2013 Ian Wark Medal for best PhD thesis, the 2017 Winnovation awards in the Engineering category, and a 2108 SA Young Tall Poppy Science Award.

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