05 July 2019

LGBT STEMM Day Symposium

The first Australian symposium showcasing great LGBTQIA+ minds in science, technology, engineering, mathematics, and medicine


The Symposium

QueersInScience proudly invites you to the LGBT STEMM Day Symposium [1], the first Australian symposium for LGBTQIA+ researchers and their allies working in STEMM [2].


This symposium will showcase and celebrate the outstanding achievements of internationally recognised Australian LGBTQIA+ researchers, provide role models for emerging professionals in STEMM, and promote awareness and understanding of the issues faced by LGBTQIA+ people in this sector and ways to solve them.

This symposium will include:


  • 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 will discuss 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 can present their research and meet the invited speakers and other LGBTQIA+ individuals and allies working in STEMM.


We warmly invite all LGBTQIA+ individuals and allies studying or working in STEMM to attend. 

The symposium is organised and presented by QueersInScience

[1] The symposium is 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.  

[2] Science, technology, engineering, mathematics, and medicine (STEMM).



The symposium will be proudly held at The Florey Institute of Neuroscience and Mental Health (30 Royal Parade, Parkville, Victoria). Registration tables will be on the ground level and the symposium talks will be held in the Ian Potter Auditorium.

After the symposium, we will move across the road to the Walter and Eliza Hall Institute of Medical Research (1G Royal Parade, Parkville, Victoria), which will proudly host our networking drinks and posters event. The event will be in the beautiful Tapestry Lounge & balcony on the top floor with a stunning aerial view of the Parkville neighbourhood.

We acknowledge the Traditional Owners of country on which this event will take place, the Wurundjeri people of the Kulin Nation, and recognise their continuing connection to land, waters, and culture. We pay our respects to their Elders past, present, and emerging, and extend that respect to other Indigenous Australians



The symposium will feature talks by prominent LGBTQIA+ researchers at the forefront of their fields. Come and hear about the brilliant work being undertaken by LGBTQIA+ researchers in Australia and celebrate the advances they are making in Australian research and society.



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.


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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.


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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.


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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.


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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.  


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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. 


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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. 


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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. 


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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.


Pronouns: She/Her

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. 


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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. 


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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.


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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. 


Pronouns: She/Her

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.


Would you like to showcase your contribution to STEMM? Submit an abstract describing your research (max 250 words) for our networking drinks & poster session. Meet other LGBTQIA+ researchers and be in the running to win a poster prize! 


The symposium will attract people from all STEMM sectors, so your poster and abstract should be pitched to a highly educated lay audience, rather than to experts within your field.


Your poster should be sized A1 or A0 and have a portrait orientation. Please indicate in your abstract submission if you require an alternative poster size. 



Nominations are open for the inaugural Scott Johnson Memorial Award for contribution to LGBTQIA+ advocacy in the field of STEMM.


This award is named in honour of Scott Johnson, a brilliant mathematician and PhD student who was killed in a gay hate crime at a Sydney beat in 1988. He was completing his PhD in Mathematics, in the area of Category Theory, between the Australian National University, Macquarie University, and the University of Sydney. At the time of his death, Scott was 27.

His death was initially ruled a suicide and it took 30 years and three coronial inquests before a gay hate crime ruling was delivered. In 1993, Scott was posthumously awarded his PhD.

This award honours the memory of Scott and is awarded to an individual or organisation who is making lives better, and workplaces safer and more inclusive, for LGBTQIA+ people in STEMM.





Join us at the Florey Institute of Neuroscience and Mental Health to hear stories of success from passionate LGBTQIA+ researchers. Afterwards, a networking drinks and poster viewing session will be held across the road at the Tapestry Lounge of the Walter and Eliza Hall Institute


Click the button on the right to download a PDF version of the final schedule for the symposium. 



QueersInScience and all partners (the organisers) of the 2019 LGBT STEMM Day Symposium are committed to providing a welcoming environment that is safe, respectful, collaborative, supportive, and free from discrimination or harassment for all attendees, including delegates, volunteers, exhibitors, invited speakers/stakeholders, members of the media and service providers. As such, all attendees of the symposium are expected to adhere to the Code of Conduct.


Attendees are expected to behave in a professional manner, showing courtesy and respect for fellow attendees' contrasting and/or opposing scientific hypotheses or conclusions. Discrimination or harassment, whether intentional or unintentional, will not be tolerated.

  • The organisers of the 2019 LGBT STEM Day Symposium define discrimination as: Unfavourable or prejudicial treatment based on age, gender, sexual orientation or sexuality, gender expression, ethnicity, race, disability, religion, political association, appearance or other personal characteristics.

  • The organisers of the 2019 LGBT STEM Day Symposium define harassment as: Any unwelcome sexual, offensive, intimidating or aggressive behaviour that hurts another person (emotionally or physically) or makes another person feel uncomfortable, unsafe, pressured or persecuted. A single incident is enough to be considered harassment - it does not have to be repeated behaviour.

If you feel you have been a victim of discrimination or harassment at our symposium or have witnessed an instance of inappropriate conduct, please report any incident to a member of the 2019 LGBT STEMM Day Symposium Organising Committee (identified by the “Committee”label on their name badge) or contact Queersinscienceau@gmail.com. All incidents are considered confidential.

For matters of immediate physical safety, please approach a committee member onsite.

The organisers of the 2019 LGBT STEMM Day Symposium or security may take any lawful action deemed necessary and appropriate, including immediate removal from the symposium without warning and without refund. QueersInScience reserves the right to prohibit attendance at any future event.




The LGBT STEMM Day Symposium will coincide with the second international #LGBTSTEMdaywhich is held annually on July 5th and was started by UK-based organisation Pride in STEM. This is an international day of celebration for LGBTQIA+ people working in STEMM fields. By recognising and showcasing the contributions that LGBTQIA+ people have made to research, it powerfully challenges the cis-heteronormative stereotype of STEMM. 

Why is this needed?

There is still a great deal of work to be done to create safe and inclusive environments for LGBTQIA+ people in STEMM in Australia. Research shows that LGBTQIA+ people still struggle to openly be themselves in their workplaces, and within STEMM have lower retention rates, and students are more likely to withdraw from University than their heterosexual and cisgender classmates (Yoder et al., 2015). This is attributable to poor visibility of LGBTQIA+ professionals in STEMM, and lack of support for policies, management guidance, and career resources tailored to the needs of LGBTQIA+ employees. LGBTQIA+ employees who are not out at work are 45% less likely to be satisfied with their job, and twice as likely to 'feel down' compared to employees who are out to everyone at work (Diversity Council of Australia, 2018). 


Out LGBTQIA+ employees are 50% more likely to be innovative, and 35% more likely to work highly effectively in their teams (Diversity Council of Australia, 2018) – both essential for excelling in STEMM. To remove barriers to LGBTQIA+ people reaching their full potential in STEMM, we must strive to promote visibility, celebrate diversity, and encourage allies and workplaces to build safe and supportive work cultures.  


The LGBT STEMM Day Symposium is organised and presented by QueersInScience.


QueersInScience is a Victorian-based initiative that promotes, celebrates, and advocates for LGBTQIA+ individuals working in STEMM fields. QueersInScience represents a diverse range of people from across Melbourne, and works in consultation with the other Equality in Science committees to identify and address issues facing LGBTQIA+ individuals working in STEMM, and to coordinate stakeholders from across the Victorian STEMM sector.


For more information and to get involved, visit our website



The LGBT STEMM Day Symposium is made possible through the Victorian Government's Pride Events and Festivals Grant; financial support of our gold, silver, and bronze sponsors; and the efforts of our co-organisers and other supporters. Click the logos below to learn more about these fantastic oragnisations. 


Gold Sponsors


Silver Sponsors

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Bronze Sponsors





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The organising committee for the LGBT STEMM Day Symposium comprises members of QueersInScience who represent a range of research institutes and Universities across the Victorian STEMM sector.  



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Laboratory Head, The Florey Institute of Neuroscience and Mental Health

Dr Gordon is untangling the molecular machinery that governs communication between brain cells to reveal the underlying causes of brain disorders.


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Research Officer, Murdoch Children's Research Institute

Dr Stephenson is pioneering the use of high throughput single-cell technologies to determine the molecular mechanism within brain malformations that cause epilepsy. She is the co-founder and co-chair of QueersInScience. 


Pronouns: He/Him

PhD Student, Walter and Eliza Hall Institute of Medical Research

Robbie analyses the genome and the metabolism of patients suffering from a rare eye disease to find a cure.  He is the co-founder and co-chair of QueersInScience.


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Senior Lecturer/ARC Future Fellow, Swinburne University Centre for Astrophysics & Supercomputing

Dr Fisher researches star formation and how it relates to the evolution of galaxies across the history of the Universe. She received her PhD from the University of Texas at Austin, and has since held fellowships at the University of Maryland and Swinburne before becoming a faculty member in 2017.


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Research Assistant, Epilepsy Research Centre, The University of Melbourne

Matt researches the genetic causes of epilepsy and speech disorders in humans, and is the secretary of QueersInScience. 


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Enterprise Fellow, School of Biosciences, The University of Melbourne

Michelle teaches the Master of Biotechnology at The University of Melbourne, helping to train biotechnology leaders of the future.  


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Senior Project Lead (Knowledge Translation), Murdoch Children's Research Institute

Ken helps scientists and organisations develop processes and activities that get research findings into policy and practice.  


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Postdoctoral Fellow, Melbourne Medical School, The University of Melbourne

Dr Warren is using brain imaging techniques to find novel therapies for people living with epilepsy and neurodevelopmental disabilities.  


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Postdoctoral Fellow, Walter and Eliza Hall Institute of Medical Research

Dr Yang is a postdoctoral researcher that uses robots to screen for small molecules against a repertoire of biological targets. Dr Yang is currently the events manager for QueersInScience.


©2019 by QueersInScience

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