Past Executive Members and Affiliates

ToriDr Victoria O’Collins loves advancing scientific ideas into practical realities that make life better, and as a neuroscientist with qualifications in law and commerce, she can do exactly that. Building on her zest for the challenge posed by science of reducing complexity to gain insight, she has spent the last decade developing tools and treatments for people with stroke in the National Stroke Research Institute at the Florey Institute of Neuroscience and Mental Health and University of Melbourne. As part of her law degree, Tori studied international law at the University of Amsterdam. Relocating to Singapore, Tori is now immersed in Singapore’s dynamic entrepreneurial environment and has kick-started A Few Good Scientists. She is Co-Founder and Co-Chair of the Australian Science and Innovation Forum which aims to energise and support innovative scientific endeavours of young scientists, engineers and business professionals. She won an Innovation Leader Scholarship in 2015 from Creative Innovation Global. Tori completed her term on the Women in STEMM Australia Executive in Dec 2016 and we wish her all the best for the future!

Mel TDr Mel Thomson completed her Honours degree in microbiology and immunology at the University of Melbourne in 1998. She then migrated to the UK where she worked on various projects as diverse as allergy and cancer before undertaking further studies. She completed a Masters of Research then a PhD in microbial genetic regulation in Neisseria species, both at University of York, UK. After the award of her PhD in 2009, she became interested the host-pathogen interactions at the Leeds Institute of Molecular Medicine, UK. Dr Thomson returned to Australia in 2011 to start her own research group at Deakin Medical School and the Geelong Centre for Emerging Infectious Diseases. A passionate science communicator, she has recently become a national ‘torch bearer’ for the concept of crowd funding academic research, which a track record of three successful ‘Pozible’ crowd funding campaigns, ‘Mighty Maggots’, ‘Hips 4 Hipsters’ and ‘No more Poo Taboo’. Mel is very active on twitter with over 9000 people following her and involved with advocacy for women in science both nationally and internationally. Mel  completed her term on the Women in STEMM Australia Executive in Aug 2016 and we wish her all the best for the future! Twitter: @DrMel_T


Dr Nikola Bowden is Group Leader and Senior Research Fellow at the Hunter Medical Research Institute, a regional translational research institute. Nikola leads a team of researchers investigating DNA repair triggered by sunlight and chemotherapy in melanoma; and the same process in chemotherapy-resistant ovarian cancers. Her overall goal is to develop new combination therapies and diagnostic tests for both melanoma and ovarian cancer. In 2011, Nikola was awarded the University of Newcastle Young Alumni of the Year for excellence in leadership and innovation. A proud Mum of three, she is a strong advocate for young researchers and women in science. Nikola chaired the Early and Mid Career Researcher Forum in Aug 2016 and led the gender equity portfolio. Nikola completed her term on the Women in STEMM Australia Executive in 2016 and we wish her all the best for the future! Twitter: @nikolabowden

portraitDIANEDr Diane Webster is the Research Director for the Prader Willi Research Foundation of Australia. She is also Chair of the Swinburne Biosafety Committee and a member of the Gene Technology Technical Advisory Committee (until Jan 2017). As a highly skilled science professional, with experience in the management of projects, people and research, Diane has a detailed understanding of the Australian regulatory landscape and is adept at working within the scope, policies and procedures of academic and government organisations and committees. Dr Webster has expertise across a diverse range of scientific disciplines and methodologies, including molecular biology, plant biotechnology, protein expression and purification, vaccine development, plant and animal virology, as well as immunological and statistical analysis. Dr Webster has been a Project Leader at the Burnet Institute and a Laboratory Head at Monash University. Diane was also the concluding National Convenor of the Women in Science Enquiry Network (which has now merged with Women in STEMM Australia). Just for fun, she has recently built a new website for the local kindergarten. Diane completed her term on the Executive at Women in STEMM Australia in Aug 2016 and we wish her all the best for the future!


Emma BallDr Emma Ball is Director Therapeutic Area Strategy and Business Development, CSL Limited and is located in Melbourne, Australia. Her role involves ensuring alignment between corporate and therapeutic area strategies, search & evaluation of new acquisition and licensing opportunities and external alliance management. Emma has held a number of roles within CSL including Director Commercial Development (Global Influenza; Adjuvant Technology), Program Director (Influenza and Late Stage Development R&D), Senior Manager Licensing & Partnerships and Senior Project Manager, R&D. Prior to joining CSL, Emma worked in project management in small biotech. She trained initially as a molecular biologist and gained her PhD in 1999 from the University of Melbourne, followed by Postdoctoral studies in oncology and endocrinology at Monash University, Melbourne. Emma also holds an MBA from RMIT University, Melbourne, and is a graduate of the Australian Institute of Company Directors. She was previously Treasurer for the Women in Science Enquiry Network (which has now merged with Women in STEMM Australia). Emma ompleted her term as a WISEnet affiliate with Women in STEMM Australia in Jun 2016 and we wish her all the best for the future!

DebbieDr Debra O’Leary is a Project Officer at St Vincent’s Hospital Melbourne within the Gastroenterology Department. She manages shared care of hepatitis B patients, liaising with community-based GPs, gastroenterologists, software developers and government agencies. Debra completed a PhD in molecular genetics at Monash University before moving to San Diego, USA, where she completed a postdoc at the Salk Institute for Biological Studies studying ErbB-neuregulin signaling pathways necessary for neuromuscular junction development. She then moved into industry, working at the Genomics Institute of the Novartis Research Foundation and Dart Neuroscience, performing assay development and high throughput screening for the identification of targets for the treatment of Duchenne muscular dystrophy, myotonic dystrophy and Alzheimer’s disease. Debra moved back to Australia in 2010 and worked in the antiviral drug discovery field while a Senior Research Scientist at Biota Pharmaceuticals before joining the public health sector in 2013. Debra is a strong advocate for women in science, having served on committees for the Association for Women in Science (AWIS) in San Diego and the Women in Science Enquiry Network (which has now merged with Women in STEMM Australia). Debra completed her term as a WISEnet affiliate at Women in STEMM Australia in Jun 2016 and we wish her all the best for the future!