Six Indian and Sri Lankan-Australian women recognised as Superstars of STEM

Superstars of STEM aims to smash society’s gender assumptions about scientists and increase the public visibility of women and non-binary people in STEM.

Six Indian and Sri Lankan-Australian women have been recognised as Superstars of STEM by Science & Technology Australia (STA) for 2023-24.

STA is Australia’s peak body in science and technology and represents more than 105,000 scientists and technologists.

Superstars of STEM aims to smash society’s gender assumptions about scientists and increase the public visibility of women and non-binary people in STEM.

“The people in the program are all committed to building a public profile and becoming role models for the next generation of STEM stars.”

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Every year, STA supports 60 Australian experts employed in STEM to become highly visible media and public role models. This year Dr Dona Jayakody, Neelima Kadiyala, Dr Anurika De Silva, Dr Ana Baburamani, Dr Indrani Mukherjee, and Dr Sathana (Sat) Dushyanthen has been recognised as Superstars of STEM.

Image source: Dr Dona Jayakody (Superstars of STEM)

Dr Dona Jayakody, a Hearing Clinician Scientist at the Ear Science Institute Australia, has made it her mission to delay or arrest dementia by treating its number one risk factor – hearing loss. Dr Jayakody is an internationally recognised researcher, leading large clinical trials and producing numerous outputs. She advocates for hearing health in the community through radio interviews, public health seminars, YouTube videos, podcasts, and newspaper articles. As STA’s STEM Ambassador, she works closely with Senator Dorinda Cox to increase awareness of hearing loss and dementia in Aboriginal communities.

Image source: Neelima Kadiyala (Superstars of STEM)

Neelima Kadiyala, IT Program Manager at Challenger Limited, has over 15 years of experience delivering extensive transformation programs across multiple industries including Financial Services, Government, Telco and FMCG.

Neelima moved to Australia in 2003 as an international student to pursue Master of Business in Information Systems. She says:

“I actively want to further extend my voluntary services for broader IT community across Australia. Coming from a culturally and linguistically diverse (CALD) background, want to extend support to CALD women through sharing my learnings and insights.”

Earlier, she was selected as GEEQ Australia Ambassador which is a not-to-profit organisation empowering women and promoting gender equality.

Image source: Dr Anurika De Silva (Superstars of STEM)

Dr Anurika De Silva is a Biostatistics Research Fellow with the Methods and Implementation Support for Clinical and Health Research Hub (MISCH) at the University of Melbourne.

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Originally from Sri Lanka, Dr De Silva completed an Honours degree in Industrial Statistics at the University of Colombo. Anurika completed her PhD in Biostatistics at the University of Melbourne in 2019, funded by a Victorian International Research Scholarship, examining statistical methods for missing data. She is passionate about teaching and much loved by her students.

Image source: Dr Ana Baburamani (Superstars of STEM)

Dr Ana Baburamani, Scientific Advisor in the Department of Defence – Science and Technology Group, has always been fascinated by how the brain grows and works. As a biomedical researcher, she seeks to piece together the complex process of brain development and the mechanisms contributing to brain injury.

In addition to her research, Dr Baburamani is dedicated to supporting and enabling early career researchers, making science accessible and promoting wider participation in and uptake of STEM careers. She completed her PhD at Monash University and has spent 10 years as a post-doctoral researcher in Europe. Dr Baburamani has now moved back to Melbourne and is a member of the Royal Society of Victoria and volunteers with BrainSTEM.

Image source: Dr Indrani Mukherjee (Superstars of STEM)

Dr Indrani Mukherjee, Deep time geologist at the University of Tasmania, focusses on “what drove that biological transition?” She says:

“My research questions key concepts, and explores links between early Earth evolution, the origin of complex life and formation of precious mineral deposits. Geology has offered me a wonderful medium (the rock record) to travel as far as 3.5 billion years ago!”

Dr Indrani Mukherjee’s moved to Australia in 2014 to pursue her PhD at the University of Tasmania. She adds:

“As a person colour, a migrant and as a woman I am always ready to communicate issues pertaining to intersectionality.”

Dr Mukherjee has been working as a postdoctoral researcher in Tasmania alongside branching out into fields of public outreach, geoscience communication and diversity initiatives.

Image source: Dr Sathana (Sat) Dushyanthen (Superstars of STEM)

Dr Sathana (Sat) Dushyanthen, Medical Educator at the University of Melbourne, specialises in the use of new and engaging technologies in online education in Digital Health, for health professionals, and leads the development of the new professional development programs. She also teaches the Master of Cancer Sciences Research Capstone.

Dr Dushyanthen completed a PhD and Masters through the University of Melbourne and Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre. She is also a Science Communicator and has participated as a National Finalist in the FameLab Science Communication competition, Pint of Science(conspiracy theories) and gives STEM talks to PhD and school students. Her most recent educational endeavour includes a YouTube channel and business called ‘Science in Motion’ that covers popular science and research topics using sci-mation, as well as helping other scientists communicate their science effectively.

The Superstars of STEM program began 2017 and there are currently 150 Superstars of STEM. It is open to women and non-binary people, the program equips brilliant diverse STEM experts with advanced communication skills and opportunities – in the media, on stage and in schools.