2023 IMNIS Catalysts announced

Twenty young science and tech innovators appointed as industry ambassadors

1 May 2023

CARD-CAT announcement BW

A speech pathologist working to rehabilitate those impacted by brain injury, an aerospace engineer working on chemical transportation, and a science publisher working on STEM resources for school students are among the diverse group of 20 emerging leaders in STEM announced to join the 2023 IMNIS Catalyst program this week.  

The Australian Academy of Technological Sciences and Engineering’s (ATSE) IMNIS Catalyst program supports inspiring emerging leaders in STEM to become ambassadors for their professions by providing unique professional development and networking opportunities. Catalysts represent ATSE and its prestigious Industry Mentoring Network in STEM (IMNIS) Initiative as they engage with schools, industry, and academia. IMNIS Catalyst is supported by MTPConnect as part of the REDI initiative. 

The 2023 cohort brings skills and experience drawn from a wide variety of STEM fields and from across the nation. 

The IMNIS Catalyst program is uniquely designed to support emerging STEM leaders to gain experience in communication – one of the top three executive skills in demand today – and enable opportunities to apply these skills in a variety of STEM fields. The 20 IMNIS Catalysts will receive training to: build their public profile; hone their STEM and media communication skills; develop their leadership voice; and communicate with influence. 

Catalysts include Nanditha Sirigiri, who is researching the intersection of combined computational-experimental science and machine learning/AI problem solving in material design at Bondi Labs. Nanditha is strongly motivated to work in business with a focus on improving and expanding renewable and green technologies.  

Also included is Dr Amol Ghodke, who is researching insect and agricultural biotechnology at CSIRO. Dr Ghodke has made an impact on the next generation as a mentor in the Gene Technology Access Centre’s (GTAC) program which provides biology and STEM education to students in Years 5-12.  

Catalyst Adaeze Ekwe is a research scientist completing her PhD in developing gene-modified cell therapy for graft-versus-host disease (GVHD); a condition where donor bone marrow or stem cells attack tissues in the transplant recipient.  Adaeze is passionate about active community engagement and regularly communicating science through her involvement as a science ambassador at the QIMR Berghofer Medical Research Institute.  

And Qiang Gao is a research fellow in the School of Electrical and Mechanical Engineering at the University of Adelaide. Qiang’s research aims to tackle real-world engineering challenges in the development and deployment of ocean based renewable energy, such as offshore wind and ocean wave energy.   

ATSE CEO Kylie Walker said it is exciting to welcome an exceptional cohort to the growing program as it enters its third year.  

“Enabling passionate advocates of STEM to grow their skills and visibility increases diverse opportunities and representation for aspiring researchers and industry professionals." - Kylie Walker

“Programs like IMNIS Catalyst provide the empowering tools needed to communicate research and passions effectively with a range of audiences, and to engage the community in conversations about the future of science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM).

“It is exciting to see our biggest cohort of IMNIS Catalysts yet. Strong and diverse ambassadors for the power and potential of STEM-powered careers enable young people throughout Australia to envisage themselves and aspire to building a career through science, technology, engineering and mathematics,” Kylie Walker said.  


Media Contact: 

Edwyn Shiell – Director, Communications and Outreach
0402 254 968

Full list of 2023 IMNIS Catalysts: 

  • Eslam Ahmed / Health Sciences – Neuroscience / Deakin University (VIC) 
  • Dr Nimal Kumar Balasubramani / Engineering – Aerospace / Omni Tanker Pty Ltd. (NSW) 
  • Dr Sangita Bista / Engineering – Science / Synergy (WA) 
  • Pia Campagna / Health Sciences – Genomics – Immunology and Neuroscience / Monash University (VIC) 
  • Adaeze Ekwe / Health Science – Immunology – Cell Therapy / Queensland University of Technology (QLD) 
  • Daniel (Zheng) Gan / Health Science – Medicine / University of New South Wales (NSW) 
  • Qiang Gao / Engineering – Energy Systems / The University of Adelaide (SA) 
  • Dr Lukas Gerstweiler / Biotechnology & Biochemistry – Biopharmaceutical Process Development / The University of Adelaide (SA) 
  • Dr Amol Ghodke / Biotechnology & Biochemistry – Agriculture / CSIRO (QLD) 
  • Dr Sam Harvey / Health Sciences – Speech Therapy / University of Queensland (QLD) 
  • Emma Kuhn / Biotechnology & Biochemistry – Microbiology and Environmental Health / Flinders University (SA) 
  • Dr Alina Lam / Biotechnology & Biochemistry – Drug Delivery & Pharmaceutical / Oxford University Press (VIC) 
  • Dr Eugene Madzokere / Biotechnology – Virology / SpeeDx (NSW) 
  • Deepak Surendhra Mallya / Engineering – Environmental Engineering / Deakin University (VIC) 
  • Christopher Mesiku / Physical Sciences – Quantum Physics / Australian National University & CSIRO (ACT) 
  • Lydia Qian / Biochemistry – Cell Biology / University of New South Wales (NSW) 
  • Sinead Reading / Health Sciences – Immunology & Cell Therapy / Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre (VIC) 
  • Nanditha Sirigiri / Physical Sciences – Computational Science & Machine Learning – AI / Deakin University (VIC) 
  • Dr Pramod Subedi / Biotechnology & Biochemistry – Structural Biology, Genetics & Biochemistry / La Trobe University (VIC) 
  • Dr Niveditha Vathsangam / Health Sciences – Immunology & Protein Biology / 360biolabs (VIC) 

About IMNIS Catalyst: 

IMNIS Catalysts are alumni of the IMNIS Engage mentoring program. Following the year of mentoring by a senior industry leader, alumni can apply to be considered for the IMNIS Catalyst program.  

Catalysts are provided with the tools and opportunities to share their STEM journeys with a range of audiences, and supported with professional development through ATSE’s STEM Careers programs. 

The IMNIS Catalyst program is part of ATSE’s award-winning Industry Mentoring Network in STEM Initiative. It is powered by MTPConnect as part of the Researcher Development and Exchange in Industry (REDI) initiative. 

About IMNIS Engage: 

IMNIS Engage is the IMNIS Initiative’s flagship professional development program.  

It partners motivated PhD students and early-career researchers in STEM (mentees); with influential, experienced leaders across a range of industry sectors (mentors) in a one-year mentoring and professional development program.  

About ATSE: 

The Australian Academy of Technology and Engineering is a Learned Academy of independent experts helping Australians understand and use technology to solve complex problems.