International Speakers

Robert Lang (Origami phenomenon)

Robert J. Lang has been an avid student of origami for over fifty years and is now recognised as one of the world’s leading masters of the art, with over 700 designs catalogued and diagrammed. He is noted for designs of great detail and realism, and includes in his repertoire some of the most complex origami designs ever created. His work combines aspects of the Western school of mathematical origami design with the Eastern emphasis upon line and form to yield models that are at once distinctive, elegant, and challenging to fold. They have been shown in exhibitions in New York (Museum of Modern Art), Paris (Carrousel duLouvre), Salem (Peabody Essex Museum), San Diego (Mingei Museum of World FolkArt), and Kaga, Japan (Nippon Museum Of Origami), among others.
Dr. Lang is one of the pioneers of the cross-disciplinary marriage of origami with mathematics; he has been one of the few Western columnists for Origami Tanteidan Magazine, the journal of the Japan Origami Academic Society, and has presented refereed and invited technical papers on origami-math at mathematical and computer science professional meetings. He has consulted on applications of origami to engineering problems ranging from air-bag design to expandable space telescopes. He is the author or co-author of seventeen books and numerous articles on origami art and design and in 2011 was elected an Honorary Member of the British Origami Society.
Dr. Lang was born in Ohio and raised in Atlanta, Georgia. Along the way to his current career as a full-time origami artist and consultant he worked as a physicist, engineer, and R&D manager, during which time he authored or co-authored over 80 technical publications and 50 integrated optoelectronics. He is a Fellow of the Optical Society of America, a member and past Vice-President of the IEEE Photonics Society, and from 2007–2010 was the Editor-in-Chief of the IEEE Journal of Quantum Electronics. In 2009, he received Caltech’s Distinguished Alumni Award and in 2013, he was chosen as one of the inaugural Fellows of the American Mathematical Society.

Marinna Madrid (Cellino)

Marinna co-founded Cellino while finishing her PhD in Applied Physics at Harvard University. During her PhD, she developed expertise in cell biology, laser optics, and an array of nanofabrication processes, including photolithography, metal deposition, self-assembly, and template-stripping. She is a co-inventor of several laser-activated intracellular delivery techniques. Before her PhD, Marinna attended Riverside Community College, received a BS in Biophysics from UCLA, and an AM in Applied Physics from Harvard University. In addition to applying physics to complex unsolved problems in biology, Marinna is passionate about increasing diversity in STEM.

Lydia Ng (Allen Institute, USA)

Lydia received a B.E. in electrical engineering and a B.Sc. in computer science from the University of New South Wales (Sydney, Australia) and a Ph.D. in electronics at Macquarie University (Sydney, Australia). She joined the Allen Institute for Brain Science in 2004 and is currently the Senior Director of Technology and leads a team of software engineers and data scientists through the whole scope of product development from data management and architecture, data processing and analysis, to the creation of online data visualization, mining and access tools on the Allen Brain Map portal. Her research background includes image processing and analysis, image registration, data analysis and mining.

Sebastián Pérez (Universidad de Chile)

Sebastián is an astrophysicist who has worked on a range of topics from black holes to planet formation. He serves as a bridge between theoretical work and observations, contributing to a better understanding of the planet formation processes using both, state-of-the-art telescopes and radio interferometers, as well as hydrodynamics in high performance computing clusters. His recent papers present astrophysical predictions for detecting on-going planet formation.
During 2017, he led an embodied learning research initiative which aims at providing experiences where students can acquire an intuition about physics and astronomy using movement of their bodies alone. He works closely with Anya Yermakova on art+science creative initiatives. In 2017, they worked on a concerto for charango and orchestra together, which is based on the fundamental laws of nature. Sebastián served both as astrophysicist and charango soloist for this piece. He is the director of the Skies Concert project (Concierto Cielos), which combines music and astronomy. His adventures in the art+science world started in 2013/2014 as director of the Art, Astronomy, Technology and Society group at the Contemporary Arts Museum of Chile. He did his PhD at Oxford University, UK and now works as a researcher at Universidad de Chile. Committed to science education, he wrote an engaging children’s novel about astronomy aimed at motivating girls to pursue scientific careers. The novel was published in 2015 and all 10000 copies have been sold out, read across Chile’s public schools.

Steve Perrault (ReadCoor Inc.)

Steve Perrault received his Ph.D. from the University of Toronto’s Institute of Biomaterials and Biomedical Engineering, with scientific contributions in plasmonic, and optical nanomaterials for nanomedicine. He then moved to the Wyss Institute at Harvard as a Fellow of the Canadian Institutes of Health Research, and as a Technology Development Fellow of the Wyss. His work focused on characterising how 3D nucleic acid nanomaterials (DNA origami) interact with cells, and how they behave in vivo. He then moved to George Church’s lab as a Scientist, and helped to develop an in situ sequencing technology that became the basis for a start-up company. ReadCoor, Inc. was launched in late 2017. Steve works as a Senior Scientist and continues to develop the technology and chemistry toward commercialisation, as well as helping to build the company and manage its development.

Sarab Sethi (Imperial College London)

Sarab is a PhD student across the Applied Mathematics, Design Engineering and Tropical Forest Ecology departments at Imperial College London. Previously, he studied Engineering Science (M.Eng.) at the University of Oxford, graduating in 2016. In addition to scientific research, Sarab’s interests include the application of electrical and software engineering to create engaging and reactive artworks and installation pieces.

Anya Yermakova (Harvard)

Anya grew up in Russia, where she attended an experimental primary school, before migrating to the US in the 90s. She is almost the embodiment of “interdisciplinary”, with degrees in biochemistry, piano performance, logic, and Russian philosophy (first two at Northwestern; last two at Oxford). She is currently doing a PhD in the History of Science at Harvard University. She is fascinated by the relationship between art and science.
Anya spends much of her time listening to, recording, playing with, composing from small sounds in the field and on instruments. Her recent work includes: a Charango Concerto in collaboration with Sebastián Pérez, which is based on the fundamental laws of nature, producing performance art sci installations in Boston, assistant directing Creatures of Prometheus with Ballet Chicago, composing poly_x for 40 speakers, 2 screens and 3 dancers, curating and performing in the “Berg sonata for piano and dancers” in New York and in Tunisia, and ongoing site-specific instantiations of Fermata, for Pianist and Someone

National Speakers

Ben Fulcher (University of Sydney)

Ben Fulcher is a lecturer in neurophysics at the University of Sydney. His current research spans statistical time-series analysis, machine learning, and applying physics-based modelling techniques to understand how the brain works.

Vini Gautam (ANU)

Vini received her Ph.D. in Materials Science from the Jawaharlal Nehru Centre for Advanced Scientific Research (India) working on integrating optoelectronic materials with blind retinas for application in bionic vision implants. She has an experience of experimental techniques in both materials science and neurophysiology, and she currently collaborates with researchers across physics, chemistry, engineering and neuroscience. Vini’s current research interests focus on biointerfacing of advanced materials for developing neuroprosthetic implants, and exploring novel biomaterials for tissue engineering and drug delivery applications. This year she received one of only two Westpac Fellowships, awarded to extremely promising young researchers.
Vini leads a team of students at the Australian National University who are developing nanoscale scaffolds to engineer the growth of neurocircuits. If successful, this technology has the potential to repair brain damage through neuroprosthetics.

Francois Ladouceur (UNSW)

François is an internationally recognised researcher in the area of photonics, more specifically in integrated optics and optical sensing networks. His career straddled both academia and the private sector and consequently focuses on applied research complemented with important commercialisation activities. Since joining UNSW in 2005, François co-founded two startups (Silanna, Zedelef) which are now important UNSW research partners.
François holds both a BEng and a MEng degree from École Polytechnique de Montréal and graduated with a PhD in optical telecommunication from the Australian National University (ANU) in 1992. His professional life started as a research engineer in France (LÉTI, Grenoble) – a position I held until 1994 when he returned to the ANU for the following four years.
Following this early academic career, he moved to the private sector in 1998 to commercialise network simulation tools with Virtual Photonics Pty Ltd (now VPI Photonics). In 2001, he became the founding Managing Director of the Bandwidth Foundry Pty Ltd. Professor since 2012, François’ research effort focuses on the development of novel optical sensing technologies with potential applications in the fields of distributed sensors, monolithic Q-switched lasers and brain/machine interface.
Francois is a long term friend and collaborator of Leon Poladian.

Tanya Latty (University of Sydney)

Tanya Latty is an entomologist with a special interest in insect behaviour and ecology. She has a BSc in Biology and Environmental Science from Trent University (Canada), and a PhD in insect ecology from the University of Calgary (Canada). Her highly interdisciplinary work involves local and international collaborations with researchers in a broad range of fields including mathematics, computer science, forestry and operations research.
Much of her work is focused on understanding collective behaviour and swarm intelligence. Ants, bees and slime moulds are capable of achieving amazing feats of problem solving despite having small, or in the case of the slime moulds, no brains. How do they accomplish this? Understanding how simple systems solve complex problems can lead to the development of new bio-inspired technologies and computer algorithms. As such, Tanya works closely with mathematicians, computer scientists and operations researchers to apply what she learns from nature toward solving some of our most difficult technological problems.
Tanya’s other research interests include the ecology and behaviour of Australian native bees and the management of insect pests.

Yu Heng Lau (University of Sydney)

Yu Heng Lau is a researcher, lecturer and group leader in the School of Chemistry. His research lies at the interface of synthetic chemistry, synthetic biology and bioengineering, and takes inspiration from macromolecules found in nature. It uses the power of biocompatible chemistry to create new medicines, advanced materials and catalysts. He has a keen interest in equity and ensuring that enthusiastic and talented individuals from diverse backgrounds are given the best opportunities to succeed in science. Yu Heng completed his PhD at the University of Cambridge, developing new chemical methods for synthesising peptide-based therapeutics. He then moved to Harvard Medical School as a Sir Henry Wellcome Postdoctoral Fellow in the field of synthetic biology, building recoded synthetic genomes in bacteria and engineering self-assembling protein nanocompartments in yeast. Outside his academic work food is a major interest, so using food to teach physics and chemistry is a natural fit.

Jane MacMaster (Ponder)

Jane is interested in how to approach solving complex problems, of many different varieties. She is the founder of Ponder, which people and organisations to develop strategies to achieve outcomes for the complex challenges they are grappling with. Her approach is highly inter-disciplinary, drawing on techniques from a range of sectors and disciplines including systems engineering, design,complexity science, theory of strategy, behavioural insights, logical reasoning, agile development, and it embeds eight higher-order thinking styles (strategic thinking, systems thinking, structured thinking, critical thinking,design thinking, creative thinking, analytical thinking and futures thinking.
Jane has a Bachelor of Engineering (Mechanical, University of Sydney), a Masters International Relations (Deakin) and a Certificate IV In Training and Assessment from the Australian Institute of Management. She worked as an engineer (on rocket science!), as a consultant, and as a senior policy advisor in the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet before founding Ponder.

Cibby Pulikkaseril (CTO,Baraja)

Cibby Pulikkaseril graduated from the University of Alberta with a BSc, following it up with a Masters of Engineering from McGill University and a PhD from the University of Sydney. His research areas have all been in optical communications and fiber optic systems, and at Finisar Australia, he led the development of novel optical instrumentation.
Cibby is a co-founder of Baraja, a Sydney-based startup that is redefining the idea of laser scanners for driverless cars. They are currently working with companies around the world on a shared vision for the future of mobility.

Corey Tutt (University of Sydney)

Corey Tutt is a proud Indigenous man from the South Coast, who currently working and studying at Sydney University. Corey has a passion for working with Indigenous youth and animals.
Corey worked at Roo gully WA , Shoalhaven zoo, as an Alpaca shearer, and with then RSPCA and Animal Welfare League, before deciding to continue his studies. When he started work at the Garvan Institute of Medical Research, his passion for science developed further. He started to teach himself genetics, starting with primary school level and eventually working up to fourth year biology. When he moved to the University of Sydney in 2016 and his first point of call was to find AIME, the very group that mentored him as a teenager. Today is Corey learning more about his culture and is looking develop pathways to science within the university for indigenous students by creating an indigenous science committee and podcast to be released July 2019. Outside of the university he is spreading the word of about science by helping indigenous people find science in remote areas. Using his connections within the animal industry, he is also to find young indigenous people work.
Corey hopes to develop and collaborate these programs and ideas to a spread to other remote communities and create the pathways to science moment to encourage more indigenous people to pursue science and to work with animals

Anna Wang (UNSW)

Anna is a graduate of Sydney University, escaping from Medicine to study Physics, Mathematics and Biochemistry. She then did a PhD in applied physics at Harvard University. Her PhD project brought to together ultra-fast digital holography, colloids and biological systems. A dedicated foodie, Anna took the opportunity in Harvard to do the Science and Cooking course, which aims to teach chemistry and soft condensed matter through innovative cooking. The workshop she will present with Yu Heng Lau, is a taster of this course. After she finished her PhD Anna become Post Doctoral Fellow at Massachusetts General Hospital, working with Nobel Laureate Jack Szostak, on origin of life science. She won a NASA fellowship to support this work. She returned to Australia in 2018 to take up a Scientia Fellowship at the University of NSW.

Shelley Wickham (University of Sydney)

Shelley’s whole research career has been interdisciplinary. Her first research projects were on the optical microstructures in iridescent butterfly scales, and understanding their evolution. Leon Poladian was one of her supervisors. She now works on “DNA Origami”, designing and making of programmable nanostructures out of DNA, with applications in cell biology,materials science and nanomedicine. Shelley has lot of degrees! She earned her Bachelor of Arts(Russian), Bachelor of Science and Master of Science at the University of Sydney, and her PhD in Condensed Matter Physics from the University of Oxford,UK. She then moved to a postdoctoral fellow position at Harvard Medical School,USA, based in the Department of Cancer Biology, Dana-Farber Cancer Institute,and the Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering. Shelley is the Professor Harry Messel Research Fellow and Postdoctoral Research Fellow in the School of Chemistry and the School of Physics at the University of Sydney. In 2018 she was awarded one of only two Westpac Research Fellowships. Undergraduate students interested in Shelley’s research area should consider joining her BioMOD team—an international biomolecular competition. They need lots of different disciplines, including people to help make videos and websites.

Srini Srinivasan (Queensland Brain Institute)

Srini Srinivasan’s research focuses on the principles of visual processing, perception and cognition in simple natural systems, and on the application of these principles to machine vision and robotics. Research from his laboratory has transformed our understanding of the elegant ‘short cuts’ that are used by animals with small brains and relatively simple nervous systems to see and perceive their world, and to navigate in it. These studies have revealed how flying insects negotiate narrow gaps, regulate the height and speed of flight,estimate distance flown, and orchestrate smooth landings. Apart from enhancing fundamental knowledge, these findings have led to novel, biologically inspired approaches to the design of guidance systems for unmanned aerial vehicles with applications in the areas of surveillance, security and planetary exploration. Srini holds an undergraduate degree in Electrical Engineering from Bangalore University, a Master’s degree in Electronics from the Indian Institute of Science, a Ph.D. in Engineering and Applied Science from Yale University, a D.Sc. in Neuroethology from the Australian National University, and an Honorary Doctorate from the University of Zürich. Srinivasan is presently Professor of Visual Neuroscience at the Queensland Brain Institute and the School of Information Technology and Electrical Engineering of the University of Queensland. Among his awards are Fellowships of the Australian Academy of Science (1994), of the Royal Society of London (2001), of the Royal Institute of Navigation (2014), of the Academy of Sciences for the Developing World (2006) and of the German National Academy of Sciences, Leopoldina (2017), the Australia Prime Minister’s Science Prize (2006), the U.K. Rank Prize for Optoelectronics (2008), the Distinguished Alumni Award of the Indian Institute of Science (2009), the Queensland Science Championship (2014), the Harold Spencer-Jones Gold Medal of the Royal Institute of Navigation (2014), and the Membership of the Order of Australia (AM) in 2012.

Alice Williamson (University of Sydney)

Alice E Williamson is a chemist and science communicator based at The University of Sydney. She is the founder of the Breaking Good project – a citizen science project that aims to empower high-school and undergraduate students to be active researchers in projects that will improve human health. In 2016, students working as part of the Breaking Good pilot project recreated the price-hiked medicine Daraprim for just a few dollars, sparking an international conversation about access to medicine and demonstrating the impact that students can have when they are involved in real research. Breaking Good was a 2018 Finalist in the Google Global Impact Challenge.
Originally from the North West of England, Alice completed her PhD at The University of Cambridge, where she worked with colleagues to develop two new chemical reactions. Alice moved to Australia to take up a position as the principal synthetic chemist for the Open Source Malaria project, who are pioneering an open source drug discovery project and are trying to prove that science is better and more efficient when all data and results are shared. The team do not patent any of their findings; instead they publish all of their work online in real time so that anyone can access their research. Alice is recognised as a leading international science communicator. In 2015, she was named as one of ABC RN and UNSW’s Top 5 Under 40 in recognition of her passion for sharing science stories. She was the RACI Nyholm Lecturer for 2017/18 and a finalist in the 2017 American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) Early Career Award for Public Engagement with Science. Alice is the co-host of the ABC Science podcast, Dear Science, and has been the host of a weekly science slot on FBi Radio’s breakfast show since June 2015.

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