Push for Global STEM collaboration

Joseph Brookes
Senior Reporter

A leading science and technology group has announced plans to link local PhD students with international industry experts to boost their skills and global networks in areas like health, agriculture and renewable energy.

Under a partnership with government funded medtech growth centre MTPConnect, the Australian Academy of Technology and Engineering (ATSE) will integrate international mentoring into its industry engagement initiative, which has until now focused on linking students with Australian experts.

A pilot program will see five PhD students paired up with international experts from North America, the UK and Switzerland to develop their understanding of the global and domestic STEM environment and international career pathways.

ATSE chief executive Kylie Walker. Image: ATSE

“ATSE is proud to create this opportunity for Australia’s future STEM leaders to learn about international operating environments and promote inter-cultural competence, global awareness, and understanding,” ATSE chief executive Kylie Walker said.

The new program is being integrated with ATSE’s flagship industry engagement initiative, Industry Mentoring Network in STEM (IMIS)

“By connecting IMNIS mentees with international mentors, we’re providing a unique industry engagement and professional development experience,” Ms Walker said.

The peak body is partnering with health ad biotech industry growth centre MTPConnect to forge the connections through its Researcher Exchange and Development in Industry initiative, a federally funded four-year, $20 million skill development and workforce training program which launched last year

ATSE launched its IMNIS program in 2015, offering industry mentors to PhD students in Australian universities. Over a year, mentors and mentees meet each month to develop professional skills and attributes for the STEM ecosystem.

Mentors volunteer their time while mentees are selected through a competitive process.

Under the global expansion, five students and mentors have been selected.

The mentees are:

  • Meysam Khodaparast Afarmajani, La Trobe University. Meysam’s PhD project is ”rapid in-field detection of pathogens in wastewater”.
  • Joanne Coyle, Monash University. Joanne’s PhD research explores “liquid-liquid phase separation (LLPS)”. Her PhD focuses on advancing current methods that are used to study phase separation, and in creating novel methods to explore this multidisciplinary topic.
  • Joao Mendes, RMIT University. Joao’s research is focused on solar energy.
  • M Arifur Rahman, University of Queensland. Arif is examining the immunopathology of mucosal tissues during chronic inflammatory and infectious diseases.
  • Devi Jenika, University of Melbourne. Devi’s PhD investigates the potential of nanoparticles as vaccine carriers.

Their mentors are:

  • Dr Michael Zalunardo – genetic sciences senior district manager, North America, with Thermo Fisher Scientific
  • Dr Linda Somerville – consultant for the UK Govt Innovation Agency (Innovate UK).
  • Dr Despina Anastasiou – global marketing director, growth platforms with Dow Europe GmbH
  • Dr James Rush – global director, new products with Novartis Pharmaceuticals AG in Switzerland.
  • Professor Bobby Gaspar – chief executive officer of Orchard Therapeutics in the UK.

Do you know more? Contact James Riley via Email.

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