On the 5th of July 2019, QueersInScience proudly held the first Australian symposium for LGBTQIA+ researchers and their allies working in STEMM.

This symposium showcased and celebrated the outstanding achievements of internationally recognised Australian LGBTQIA+ researchers, provided role models for emerging professionals in STEMM, and promoted awareness and understanding of the issues faced by LGBTQIA+ people in this sector and ways to solve them. It was proudly held at The Florey Institute for Neuroscience and Mental Heald, with networking drinks and poster session held at The Walter and Eliza Hall Institute of Medical Research.

The symposium included:

  • Presentations from distinguished LGBTQIA+ speakers from across the STEMM fields, describing their career pathways and highlighting the important scientific and societal impacts that LGBTQIA+ researchers have achieved.
  • A panel discussion where invited panellists discussed their lived experience as LGBTQIA+ professionals in STEMM, and how they have approached and overcome challenges.
  • A networking drinks and posters session where students and staff presented their research and met the invited speakers and other LGBTQIA+ individuals and allies working in STEMM.

Dr Mohammad Taha won the Scott Johnson Memorial Award at the 2019 symposium.


* The 2019 symposium was named “LGBT STEMM Day Symposium” to communicate its connection to other events being held internationally to celebrate LGBTSTEM Day (05 July, 2019). However, we prefer to use the more inclusive term “LGBTQIA+” when referring to the diverse individuals who will be attending and speaking at the symposium.


Dr Penny Whetton

Pronouns: She/Her

Honorary Research Fellow, CSIRO

Dr Penny Whetton is an Honorary Research Fellow with CSIRO and the University of Melbourne, and formerly a Senior Principal Research Scientist with CSIRO. Dr Whetton led CSIRO’s national climate change projection work from 1992 until 2014 and was a Lead Author of Assessment reports of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change in 2001, 2007 and 2014.

Dr Tana Tan

Pronouns: He/Him

Head of Evaluations and Data Analysis, Safe System Solutions Pty Ltd

Dr Tana Tan is a transport and road safety researcher, consultant, and Head of Evaluations and Data Analysis at Safe System Solutions Pty Ltd. Dr Tan’s background is in the biomechanics of human injury, passenger vehicle safety, and motorcycle safety. He has more than 10 years experience as a consultant.

Associate Professor Penelope Bryant

Pronouns: She/Her

Group Leader, Infection and Immunity, Murdoch Children's Research Institute

Associate Professor Penelope Bryant is a paediatric infectious disease physician and general paediatrician. She is the clinical research coordinator of the Department of General Medicine, and has been group co-leader of the Murdoch Children’s Clinical Paediatrics group since its inception.

Professor David Balding

Pronouns: He/Him

Director, Melbourne Integrative Genomics

Professor, School of BioSciences, The University of Melbourne>

Professor, School of Mathematics and Statistics, The University of Melbourne

David Balding is a Professor of Statistical Genetics at the University of Melbourne, and Director of Melbourne Integrative Genomics, having previously been the founding senior appointment at the UCL Genetics Institute in London.

Dr Jaclyn Pearson

Pronouns: She/Her

Research Group Head, Hudson Institute of Medical Research

Dr Jaclyn Pearson is a microbiologist by training. She currently holds a National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) Career Development Fellowship (2019-2022) and is a Research Group Head in the Centre for Innate Immunity and Infectious Disease.  

Pofessor Julie Owens

Pronouns: She/Her

Deputy Vice-Chancellor Research, Deakin University

Professor Julie Owens is the Deputy Vice-Chancellor Research at Deakin University leading a portfolio that includes responsibility for Deakin Research, Deakin Research Innovations, Institute for Frontier Materials, Institute for Intelligent Systems Research and Innovation, and Applied Artificial Intelligence Institute. Prior to her appointment in 2018, Professor Owens was Pro Vice-Chancellor (Research Strategy) at The University of Adelaide, a position she had held since 2015.

Dr Mohammad Taha

Pronouns: They/Them

Researcher, The University of Melbourne

Dr Mohammad Taha is a researcher in the Electrical and Electronics Engineering department of the University of Melbourne. Their research is centred around the application of metal oxides in plasmonics, energy-saving windows, and wearable electronics. They were awarded the RMIT University Research Impact award in 2018, and are a passionate advocate for diversity and inclusion, having co-chaired the Diverse Genders, Sexes, and Sexualities Working Party at RMIT from 2015-2018.

Associate Professor Daniel Zucker

Pronouns: He/Him

Associate Professor, Department of Physics and Astronomy, Macquarie University

Associate Professor Daniel Zucker is an observational astronomer at Macquarie University, studying the stars of our Galaxy and its nearest neighbours as a key to understanding how galaxies form and have evolved over time. Originally from the U.S., he obtained his PhD from the University of Washington, and after postdocs in Heidelberg, Germany and Cambridge, England, he joined Macquarie in 2009. A past ARC Future Fellow, he is currently chair of the Astronomical Society of Australia IDEA (Inclusion, Diversity, and Equity in Astronomy) chapter steering committee.

Dr Toby Merson

Pronouns: He/Him

Research Group Head, Australian Regenerative Medicine Institute, Monash University

Dr Merson completed his PhD at the Walter and Eliza Hall Institute of Medical Research and undertook post-doctoral training at the Howard Florey Institute as an NHMRC/MS Research Australia Betty Cuthbert Fellow. In 2013, he established an independent laboratory within the Florey Institute of Neuroscience and Mental Health as a Melbourne Neuroscience Institute Fellow. In 2016, he was awarded an Australian Research Council Future Fellowship and was appointed Group Leader at the Australian Regenerative Medicine Institute, Monash University. His group studies neuron-glial interactions in the central nervous system, with a particular focus on the formation and regeneration of myelin in health and disease.

Professor Alice Pébay

Pronouns: She/Her

Principal Research Fellow

Professor, Department of Surgery, University of Melbourne

Professor, Department of Anatomy & Neuroscience, University of Melbourne

Professor Pébay holds a PhD in Neuroscience (University of Paris VI, 2001) and moved to Australia for her postdoctoral studies. Professor Pébay’s research aims to model diseases of the eye and brain using pluripotent stem cells. She has held multiple fellowships and is currently a NHMRC Senior Research Fellow.

Professor Carla Sgró

Pronouns: She/Her

Professor, School of Biological Sciences, Monash University

Professor Carla Sgró is an Evolutionary Biologist based at Monash University. Her research aims to understand the factors that facilitate and constrain adaptation to environmental change, and to use this understanding to better manage biodiversity conservation under climate change.

Professor James Bourne

Pronouns: He/Him

Research Group Head, Australian Regenerative Medicine Institute, Monash University

Professor James Bourne is a neuroscientist and is currently a Group Leader at the Australian Regenerative Medicine Institute and a NHMRC Senior Research Fellow, and is a member of the NHMRC Research Committee and Australian Human Ethics Committee. After completing his studies Imperial College of Science, Technology and Medicine, London, James moved to Australia to pursue his career and has been recipient of both ARC & NHMRC Fellowships and grants.

Felix Kaesler

Pronouns: He/Him

Electrical and Electronics Engineer, Accredited Test Services Land Engineering Agency, Defence Graduate Program

Felix Kaesler is an electrical and electronics engineer with the Defence Graduate Program, where he is currently completing several projects in the Land and Vehicles sector. Felix is an army and navy veteran who served as an Aviation Technician prior to pursuing an engineering career in the Australia Public Service.

Kylie Walker

Pronouns: She/Her

CEO, Science & Technology Australia

Chair, Australian National Commission for UNESCO

Co-Chair, National Research and Innovation Alliance

Kylie Walker specialises in connecting scientists and technologists with governments, business, media, and society – skills built over many years in senior federal communication and advocacy roles in the science and health sectors. The creator of the acclaimed Superstars of STEM program, Kylie’s a passionate campaigner for equity, diversity, and inclusion, and a change-maker for gender equity, including as a member of the steering committee for the new anti-harassment agency, NOW Australia.