Profiling our emerging leaders

Presented by the Australian Academy of Technological Sciences and Engineering (ATSE)

Event details

Thursday 5 October 2023

Networking drinks (cash only bar): 6:00pm-6:30pm AEST
Presentation (in-person and online): 6:30pm-7:30pm AEST — Free
Optional in-person dinner: 7:30pm-9:00pm AEST — $34


Graduate House, University of Melbourne, 220 Leicester Street, Carlton 3053


Dr Laura Downie, The University of Melbourne
Dr George Chen, The University of Melbourne and Dairy Innovation Hub Australia
Jefferson Lam, Monash University

FWI-VIC-231005 Emerging leaders

Profiling our emerging leaders

What are the challenges facing younger researchers in STEM?

Join us for an exciting evening with three 2022 ATSE Award winners, recognised for their excellence, innovation and impact. Each speaker will give a short overview of their research, followed by a dynamic panel discussion exploring their key to success, the challenges they’ve faced, and strategies for industry engagement. As part of the discussion, we’ll question if current policies support the next generation of Australian scientists and engineers.


Headshot photo Laura Downie high resolution
Associate Professor Laura Downie

Associate Professor and Dame Kate Campbell Fellow, Department of Optometry and Vision Sciences, Faculty of Medicine, Dentistry and Health Sciences, The University of Melbourne

Associate Professor Laura Downie is an Associate Professor and Dame Kate Campbell Fellow for research excellence in the Department of Optometry and Vision Sciences, in the Faculty of Medicine, Dentistry and Health Sciences, at the University of Melbourne. Laura is an academic clinician scientist and practising optometrist, whose achievements span research, education, engagement and leadership. She heads the ‘Anterior Eye, Clinical Trials and Research Translation Unit’, comprising 14 staff and research higher degree students. She is Director of the inaugural Melbourne Cochrane Centre for Evidence-Based Vision Care, one of nine such centres globally recognised for excellence in leading the translation of high-quality research evidence into eye care practice. Laura’s research has a strong translational focus, combining laboratory, clinical and implementation science as a foundation for improving outcomes for patients with eye disease.  In 2018, she was recognised by Optometry Australia as the youngest of 32 “female luminaries” to have pioneered optometric research. She received the David and Valerie Solomon Award in 2022.

George Chen
Dr George Chen

Lecturer of Chemical Engineering, The University of Melbourne and Principal Engineer, Dairy Innovation Hub Australia

Dr George Chen is a Lecturer in Chemical Engineering at the University of Melbourne and a principal engineer within the Dairy Innovation Hub Australia. He is an industry-focused academic with a proven track record of membrane technology development and research translation to enable food manufacturers to reduce waste and energy usage while enhancing sustainability and turnover. His work has been recognised with many awards, including the 2022 ICM Agrifood Award from the Australian Academy of Technological Sciences and Engineering, the 2022 Applied Research Award from the Membrane Society of Australasia, and the 2019 CBE Outstanding Industry Engagement Award from the University of Melbourne.

Jefferson Lam
Jefferson Lam

PhD candidate, Monash University

Jefferson Lam’s passion in preserving the natural world is at the forefront of his engineering research as a second-year PhD candidate at Monash University. His work aims to engineer the next-generation of lightweight solar panels by drawing inspiration from plant leaves, which are the original solar energy harvester. The outcome of his work has the potential to revolutionise the way solar panels are both manufactured and deployed so that solar energy can meet the energy requirements of our future.

His research so far has caught the attention of the nation, with Jefferson being the 2022 recipient of the Ezio Rizzardo Polymer Scholarship. This award acknowledges the potential impact of an outstanding PhD candidate in polymer science or engineering. Jefferson’s research is also supported by the Woodside-Monash Energy Partnership Research Scholarship.