Global honour for alumna

Tan Le Photo: Australia Unlimited

Tan Le Photo: Australia Unlimited

Alumna, innovator and entrepreneur Tan Le has been named one of 17 National Geographic Emerging Explorers for 2013.

The Emerging Explorers Program recognises early-career adventurers, scientists and innovators at the forefront of discovery, adventure and global problem-solving. Each recipient is given $10,000 to assist with future research.

Bachelor of Commerce (Hon) and Bachelor of Laws (Hon) graduate, Ms Le is the co-founder and CEO of Emotiv Lifesciences, a bioinformatics company focused on identifying biomarkers in the brain for mental and other neurological conditions. Her aim is to help detect brain problems earlier and accelerate research that unlocks new treatments for neurological disorders.

Since its inception Emotiv has pioneered first-of-its kind portable EEG technology headsets, a new brain-computer interface, and a platform for sharing crucial brain data globally.

"I want to empower as many people as possible to participate in brain research by making it easier and more affordable," Ms Le said.

"Instead of limiting research to institutions that can afford hundreds of thousands or even millions of dollars in imaging machines, I want to democratise brain research through accessible technology that fosters innovation at the grassroots level."

Her vision would see data collected from thousands of participants via the EEG headset and uploaded into the Cloud where it can be accessed and studied by researchers across the world.

"This platform could accelerate research at a scale and pace we  never imagined a few years ago," Ms Le said.

"Now scientists will be able to compare their patients to a far-reaching general population and draw more meaningful inferences."

Ms Le began her career with one of Australia's leading law firms, Freehills, and was admitted as a barrister and solicitor in 2000. She went on to co-found and lead SASme International, a pioneer in providing Short Message Peer-to-Peer platforms to telecommunication carriers and content aggregators before starting Emotiv Lifesciences in 2003.

Her list of personal accomplishments is impressive. In 1998 she was awarded Young Australian of the Year and voted as one of Australia's 30 Most Successful Women Under 30. She has been a Special Visitor to the UK as a guest of the British High Commission and Foreign Commonwealth Office, a Goodwill Ambassador for Australia in Asia, an Ambassador for Aboriginal reconciliation and a Patron of the Australian Youth Ambassadors for Development Program.

She has been an Ambassador for the Status of Women since 2001 and served on prominent boards, including Plan International Australia, the Australian Citizenship Council, the National Committee for Human Rights Education and the Centre for the Mind.

She has been featured in the 'Who's Who in Australia' list since 1999 and 'Who's Who of Australian Women' list in 2007 and 2008, Fast Company's Most Influential Women in Technology in 2010 and Forbes' 50 Names You Need to Know in 2011. She has been honoured by the World Economic Forum as a Young Global Leader since 2009.

In 2011 she was honoured with the Monash Distinguished Young Alumni Award.