Stem Talks
Monash Education presents...

STEM Talks

Tuesday, 25 September 2018

Showcasing STEM innovation - Addressing real life challenges in a changing world

The Faculty of Education has invited a group of scientists, engineers and technologists to share their collective insights into some of the big questions that challenge them in their everyday quest for innovative solutions.

Each speaker's story will showcase how diverse approaches to solving problems can be, and will demonstrate that engaging in STEM is seldom formulaic or routine, but is definitely exciting, creative and highly rewarding.

Join them to hear their stories.

STEM Talks 2018


Tuesday, 25 September 2018


Learning and Teaching Building
Ground floor, G81
19 Ancora Imparo Way, Clayton
Monash University
Clayton Campus


Session 1
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Session 2
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Session 1: 1–2pm

What is Engineering about? – People, design and the virtue of being unseen

Pippa graduated with a Masters in Architectural Engineering from Leeds University (UK), incorporating a year at Penn State University (USA). She joined global design consultancy Arup and for 27 years worked on projects as diverse as museums, bridges, masterplans and sculptures in the UK, USA, Singapore, Hong Kong, Malaysia, New Zealand and in Australia. In 2015 she joined Monash University and is currently lecturing and working with industry on multidisciplinary design teams.

Most people are unaware of the impact that engineering has on their daily lives. Behind many of the comforts of life are multidisciplinary teams of engineers working to make the world a better place: more efficient, safer, healthier, sustainable and enjoyable. The mental image of an engineer being a man in overalls with a spanner couldn’t be further from the truth. Find out who is behind the design engineering innovations like earthquake resistant buildings, efficient transport, clean water and clean energy solutions.

Ms Pippa Connolly

Associate Professor (Practice)

Department of Civil Engineering, Faculty of Engineering, Monash University

Gravitational waves: Illuminating the darkness

Dr Greg Ashton completed his PhD at the University of Southampton focusing on timing variations in neutron stars and their implications for gravitational waves. Dr Ashton first worked as a postdoctoral student at the Albert Einstein Institute in Hannover, collaborating with the Continuous Gravitational-wave group before moving to Melbourne to work with Dr Paul Lasky an ARC Future Fellow at the Monash Centre for Astrophysics (MoCA) on gravitational wave research.

Our vast and largely empty universe is still a chaotic and dynamic place full of cataclysmic explosions of unimaginable energies. In the past our knowledge of such events has largely been based on observations using neutrino’s or the electromagnetic spectrum of which light is just a small part. The LIGO detector can now observe these energetic events using the small signature ripples they create in space time - gravitational waves. Greg will discuss GW170817, an event observed on the 17th August, 2017 in which LIGO witnessed for the first time the collision of two distant neutron stars which was ultimately verified by more than 70 observatories on the ground and in space.

Dr Greg Ashton

Member of the LIGO collaboration

Monash Centre for Astrophysics

Imagining future technology - Diversity, development & disruption

Ami is a graduate of Monash University in Electrical and Computer Systems Engineering and the CEO of Robogals Global, a not-for-profit organisation that aims to interest more girls in the study of engineering. Throughout her degree she has worked in various teams to tackle diverse challenges such as clean water sustainability, improving public transport efficiency and affordable asset management. Ami currently works in Telstra’s SMART IoT (Internet of Things) Applications team, where she helps develop and improve IoT products to solve customers’ problems.

In today’s world, the use of technology is already widespread and becoming increasingly prominent in our daily lives. The current ways that we interact with technology are already vastly different to how our parents and grandparents have done in the past. A constant challenge is how to leverage emerging technology to create targeted solutions that help solve real problems while meeting customers’ needs. Ami’s talk will focus on the product development journey and the role that diversity, development and disruption play in creating new products that add real value to people's lives.

Ms Ami Pasricha

CEO, Robogals Global

Networks, SMART IoT Applications team

STEM skills in action: How can STEM capabilities better enable your next career adventure?

Simon is Chairman of Change Agents Worldwide, a global network of skilled professionals focused on helping organisations to enable people to adapt to the challenges of future work technologies and practices. Throughout his career Simon has worked as a technology and change consultant across a diverse range of industries from entrepreneurial startups, e.g. LanternPay, to large multinational organisations, such as Mattel Inc., National Australia Bank and Consolidated Press Holdings Ltd. He strives to promote change in organisations to make “work more effective” and beneficial for all.

Simon’s talk will explore how STEM skills have benefited his career and helped others succeed in a variety of organisational contexts. He will examine how these increasingly critical skills and capabilities can help leverage your experience across different industry sectors and better prepare you for new technologies and changing global markets. Why are the STEM skills and capabilities you learn throughout your education increasingly important for success in so many future careers? How will those skills better prepare you to adapt and to contribute in the rapidly changing future of work?

Mr Simon Terry


Change Agents Worldwide

Session 2: 4–5pm

Sex in a changing world

Bob Wong is an evolutionary ecologist and head of the Behavioural and Ecology Research Group based in the School of Biological Sciences at Monash University. Bob’s research focuses on mate choice and reproductive investment, and how human-induced environmental change affects animal behaviour. Work undertaken in the group encompasses a wide range of species, from insects to fish, and even humans.

Finding the right mate can be a challenge. This sexual struggle can be so powerful that it can shape the course of evolution itself. In most animals, reproduction is finely attuned to the environment. So, what happens when environmental conditions are disturbed due to human activities? Bob’s talk will discuss sex in a rapidly changing world — and what consequences this might have for wildlife populations and the survival of species.

Associate Professor Bob Wong

Associate Professor

School of Biological Sciences, Monash University

The value of data in a sharing economy

Fithriyah completed her degree in Telecommunication Engineering from RMIT University with her final year focussing on how to use light in time and space domains to process information. After spending some time in research, she joined a Technology Consulting firm where she developed her love of data analytics and communication. Now Fithriyah supports Telstra’s strategic roadmaps through her analysis of key business and network data, providing leadership with meaningful information used to solve complex business problems and identifying commercial opportunities.

Whether we’re using Google to wander around the streets of Buenos Aires, purchasing goods advertised on Facebook, or watching our favourite ‘Sit Com’, we are all contributing to the world of data. How do we as consumers generate data, and how do we use data to enhance our day-to-day lives? We’ll take a journey through the world of data analytics, demystify some of its misconceptions, and explore what it’s like to work in this exciting and booming field.

Ms Fithriyah Shalihah

Technology Specialist

Analytics and Modelling - Network Commercial Engineering, Telstra

Using X-rays to shed light on the murky world of T cell communication

Dr Benjamin Gully is a structural biologist at Monash University. After completing his undergraduate studies in England Ben relocated to Australia to undertake a PhD studying the molecular structures of proteins at The University of Western Australia. In 2014 Ben joined the ARC Centre of Excellence in Advanced Molecular Imaging at Monash University, to study the mechanisms of immune cell activation using world-leading facilities.

T cells - a sub-type of white blood cells, play a key role in the human immune system continuously and autonomously fighting off disease, infection and cancer throughout our bodies. T cells recognise friend from foe on a cellular basis, requiring cellular communication on a minute scale (around 1 millionth the size of a pin head). In order to visualise these hidden interactions, high powered X-rays are used to illuminate them in ways that allow us to better understand the precise mechanisms employed in T cell recognition.

In his talk, Ben will explore the science that underpins the development of therapeutic T cell treatments and how X-ray molecular imaging is providing new insights that may one day revolutionise our ability to treat tumours and cancer in the human body.

Dr Benjamin S Gully

Research Fellow

Rossjohn Laboratory and ARC Centre of Excellence in Advanced Molecular Imaging