Meet Our Mentors

The Innovators’ Tea Party have over 200 women who generously volunteer their time to mentor young people at speed networking events around Western Australia. Read about some of our mentors below.

Forensic Chemist

PittsKari is a Forensic Chemist at ChemCentre, and will be joining us for our Perth 2018 event. We asked her to tell us more about what a Forensic Chemist does.

“My typical day involves analysing trace evidence using chemical techniques for criminal matters. I use a wide range of instruments for a wide range of evidence types, from arson debris to zircons. I issue reports, liaise with police, defence lawyers and prosecutors, and testify in trials as an expert witness if required.

I’m often asked if Forensic Chemistry is like CSI. I am like the lab workers in CSI – I do all the analysis for my specialty. I get to use my chemical knowledge and scientific and I get to help society by contributing to the justice system. But no, I don’t normally go to crime scenes, I don’t interview suspects and I don’t know everything about every area that happens to be needed. It would be good to be able to finish a case in an hour though!”

Aquaculture Research Scientist

aislingAisling is a PhD Student at Curtin University working with the Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development, and volunteered with us at our 2017 Perth event. We asked her to share a bit about what she does, and how she came to study climate change & aquaculture.

“I spend the day culturing algae, looking after scallops, oysters, lobsters, and abalone, building aquaculture systems, and running experiments where I try to make baby abalone or determine how future climate change is going to impact abalone. During nice weather, I can also spend my days on the boat counting abalone stocks along the WA coastline.

I always liked sport, science and maths in high school, and chose to study Marine and Coastal Management and Science Communication at University. Considering I thought I hated biology after doing one term of it in year 11, I don’t think my teenage self would have expected me to be here at all! But I’m very grateful I kept an open mind over the years as I love what I do.”

Breast Cancer Research Scientist

CiaraCiara is a PhD Student at the Harry Perkins Institute of Medical Research and The University of Western Australia. Ciara has recently won a Western Australian Young Achiever Award for Innovation! Her research is supported by the Cancer Council Western Australia. We asked her to share a bit about how she got to where she is.

“When I was a teenager I had no idea I would be doing what I am doing today. I was originally aiming for medicine, and only realised how much I enjoyed research when I did my Honours year. I am currently researching whether honeybee venom (what gets injected into you when you are stung by a bee) could be used to effectively treat aggressive breast cancer cells. This involves putting the bees to sleep, manually collecting the venom, and then testing its effects on breast cancer cell lines. It’s such a great feeling when you discover something new in your field of research.”

Energy Efficiency Project Officer

65Karin is an Energy Efficiency Project Officer at the City of Mandurah.

We asked Karin to tell us how she got to be in her current role, and why she loves it.

“When I left school I had no idea what I wanted to do and didn’t start my degree until I was 28. I spent my 20s travelling and working in hospitality and administrative roles – it took me a long time to discover my passion and decide on a direction. I chose to work in sustainability because I wanted to contribute to climate change mitigation and the only way to do that is to decarbonise our energy supply.

I studied an undergraduate degree in Sustainable Development, and am currently completing a Graduate Diploma in Energy Management. Landing this job at the City of Mandurah doing exactly what I want to be doing was a culmination of many years of study (next to working full time) and working in a related area of the commercial sector. I really feel like all the hard work has paid off and it has turned out to be an amazingly positive working environment. When you get to work every day to contribute to a cause that you genuinely care about and connect with like-minded people you really feel like you are making an impact. I couldn’t be happier with where I am right now.”

Speech Pathologist

Read, CarisCaris is a Speech Pathologist at the Statewide Speech and Language Service.
We asked Caris to tell us what she does and why she chose to be a speech pathologist.

“I currently work with teachers to support children with language, speech and literacy difficulties in the classroom. Prior to this I was working in private practice where I provided individual therapy to children with speech, language, literacy & fluency (stuttering) difficulties.

I chose to study Speech Pathology because of my interest in health and human biology. I chose to work in the paediatric field because I found it so rewarding to help children develop skills that would help them to achieve academically, socially & emotionally throughout their lives. It is a basic human need to be able to communicate effectively with others and be understood – to help clients achieve that is a great feeling.”

Medical Research Scientist

19667547_1709860855709541_3730652959174663403_o.jpgGina is a NHMRC Career Development Fellow at The University of Western Australia and Harry Perkins Institute of Medical Research. She works on neurogenetic diseases with her team and tries to identify the cause and mechanism of these diseases in families or patients. We asked her to tell us a little about her work and why she loves what she does.

“I love that what we do helps patients and families, I’m very lucky that the research I do is immediately translated into diagnostics. One of the most amazing parts of my job is that I get to travel to conferences in fantastic destinations and get to meet and work with amazingly clever people from all over the world – the muscle research community is my second family. I have travelled to Italy, Spain, Oxford, Berlin and Amsterdam for conferences and/or collaborations.
The most rewarding experience of my career so far was receiving a letter from a neurologist in Turkey with a photograph and a thank you letter on behalf of a family that had lost two babies to a muscle disease. We identified the cause of the disease in the family and they were then able to have prenatal diagnosis for their third pregnancy and had a healthy baby boy. This was their first healthy baby.”


19554906_1717923821569911_4751407806094257378_n.pngLynne’s role as a Palynologist is very varied as a researcher and supervisor at Curtin University and a consultant to mining companies, CSIRO and the police. She studies pollen extracted from sediments to provide information about their age, the climate and vegetation at the time they were deposited, and from soil and forensic exhibits to determine if there is a relationship between them. We asked her to tell us a little about how she came to be a Palynologist.

“I did my geology degree as a mature aged student after 10 years of high school teaching (Phys Ed and Science). When I went to school girls were not encouraged to do science, so I came to it late. I have always been fascinated by rocks and the Earth’s history. The forensic aspect of my work came about by happenstance 20 years ago when I was asked to work on a Queensland murder case. Since then I have worked on numerous homicide, rape and drug cases. What I love most is solving the puzzles pollen analysis presents. What age is this rock and what type of vegetation contributed to the pollen and spores within it? Is the suspect guilty – or not?”

Planetary Scientist

19983435_1724799007549059_789940176757626337_o.jpgLucy is a Research Associate in Planetary Geology at Curtin University, having recently completed her PhD in the field. She studies lunar soils collected from the Moon and meteorites found in the desert under a microscope to find answers about how asteroids and other parts of our solar system were formed. More recently she has moved on to looking at Martian meteorites to calculate how long it has been since these rocks left the surface of Mars. We asked Lucy to tell us more about what excites her about her work.

“I didn’t realise I would still be as excited by my work as a full-time researcher compared to when I was a student. I think that is the beauty of finding a career that you are so passionate about. I went down the scientific route as I had quite a passion for vulcanology, physics, and understanding how things work. I love rocks- especially space rocks! I find the idea that I can discover new and exciting things about the Universe from looking at a little meteorite that has travelled to Earth quite incredible. No one was here to witness the Solar System forming, so I’m a bit like a space detective, which is pretty awesome.”

Sports Scientist

20233009_1732474286781531_4383275067123540768_o.jpgSophia currently wears a number of hats as a Sport Scientist for Surfing Australia, High Performance Manager for Softball WA and Associate Professor at Edith Cowan University (ECU). In these roles she works with athletes, coaches and companies to help measure, discover and innovate ways to improve sporting performance or reduce sporting related injuries. She also works to promote women in sport using sports science to engage youth. We asked Sophia to tell us about why she chose to work in sports science.

“I have always loved sports, science and tinkering around with computers or electronics. I wanted something that could challenge my science brain but excite my sporting interests. Luckily the field of sports science and sport technology has erupted and let me combine the best of these formerly divergent interests. I love creating new knowledge and changing the way we investigate and improve sporting performance. My favourite part of the job is having the chance to be a true innovator every single day.”

Game and Virtual Reality Developer

20287001_1737901272905499_4990617476187492856_o.jpgCamille is a Game and Virtual Reality Developer. She collaborates with teams across the globe to discuss, design and implement gameplay features for interactive mobile games and virtual reality applications. We asked her to tell us about how her passion became her career.

“I grew up with 3 brothers and through them was exposed to games from a young age. I loved playing games, and at around 10 years of age I also started making my own art. I really didn’t know what I wanted to do after high-school because no one thought game development was a viable, practical option, so I did Law/Commerce instead. I was lucky enough to fail a unit after a year, causing me to rethink my choice and change to a games degree. Instantly my grades became High Distinctions and I loved studying. It was a career choice of interest and passion. My favourite part of my job is constantly getting to improve my skills and knowledge in the ever-growing field of technology. I also like getting to say that I make games and work with emerging technologies for a living.”

Data Scientist

DABASIA to add.jpgLakshmi works at Woodside, where she uses data to help with the prediction and optimisation of different engineering processes. We asked her to share some tips for those students interested in pursuing a career in maths.

“I studied mathematics in university and didn’t realise how many career options were out there until my last year. Mathematics is something that is used across all industries but is not as commonly heard about. Don’t be afraid to pursue it if you are interested in it – there are so many amazing things you could do with it! Also, be proactive and willing to take on opportunities outside your comfort zone. With this, you will end up with a deeper understanding of how your skills can be used, and maybe even have found your dream career path.”

Industrial Chemistry Research Scientist

HIGGINBOTTOM.PNGShani is a Research Scientist in Industrial Chemistry. Shani works at Alcoa in their research and development group. In this role she develops new analysis methods and trials new technologies in the alumina refinery plants. We asked her to tell us more about her work life.

“I had always wanted to be a scientist but after years of studying, I wanted more than just a standard laboratory job – I wanted to be out in the real world! My current field blends my love of science and research with real-world applications, letting me work in many different areas and on many different projects. I lead one of our teams of experts to help improve the production of our global refining business. Some days I’m in the laboratory doing tests to find ways to improve the current methods of my industry, other days I am out in the refineries doing field work or helping management with decisions about how best to implement our new discoveries.”

Materials Engineer

MACEY to add.jpgJane is a Materials Engineer and was recently appointed Head of Engineering at Roy Hill. We asked her to share some advice for students interested in pursuing careers in Engineering.

“You aren’t an engineer forever – you don’t need to be in a technical role to get an advantage out of STEM. I’ve used my engineering background to provide a broad foundation to launch into opportunities to work with great people, in a wide range of industries in a range of roles. The roles have ranged from technical engineering roles to hardcore, big team front line leadership roles managing maintenance/operations teams. I’ve had industry exposure to aerospace, manufacturing, nickel refining, oil and gas and iron ore.  Engineering doesn’t trap you in a life in an office as an engineer. It is a base platform that enables you to take on a huge range of alternate career paths. Consider your education in STEM to be the toolkit that you develop to enable you to access any industry as a geek, a business person or a leader of people – wherever your desire leads you.”

Radio Astronomy Research Associate

SOBEY copyCharlotte is a Research Associate in Radio Astronomy. Charlotte has worked and studied around the world and is currently based at ICRAR-Curtin, in a joint position with CSIRO Astronomy and Space Science. She uses next-generation radio telescopes to observe pulsars and study magnetic fields, including that of the Milky Way. We asked her to tell us why she chose to pursue a career in astronomy and to share the most rewarding experience of her career.

“From a young age, I was always fascinated by space. I became especially interested in looking at and learning about things in the universe, which led me to study physics and astronomy/astrophysics. The most rewarding experience of my career to-date was using a brand new cutting-edge radio telescope to learn something new about an object in our Galaxy that we thought we understood fairly well. I discovered and described changes in the radio emission from a pulsar’s magnetosphere. I used the LOFAR telescope in the Netherlands, as well as three other radio telescopes simultaneously, so it was a substantial project!”