Sciences Chapter - Committee Members


Melissa Sykes  (Chair)

Melissa is a Research Fellow in Discovery Biology at the Griffith Institute for Drug Discovery, Griffith University and has over 16 years experience developing and establishing in vitro high throughput assays for application in early drug discovery. Her current research utilises image-based technology to identify the activity of new compounds against the protozoan parasite that causes Chagas disease, Trypanosoma cruzi. Melissa is involved in early career research committees in addition to outreach and mentoring roles and is particularly interested in supporting and encouraging professional development for careers in science and technology.



Dr. Kinnari Shelat

Dr Kinnari possesses PhD in material science from University of South Australia, with expertise in providing consulting and problem solving to different clients ranging from PhD students, postdocs and industry. Presently, I have dual role at the University of Queensland, Senior Professional officer at AIBN, ANFF-Q and Research fellow at QAAFI.  My role involves varied responsibilities; training & supervision of PhD students, designing & implementing various experiments and providing ‘tailor-made’ solutions for a range of different types of samples from food to minerals particularly for characterising complex structure and surface properties using RAMAN, FTIR and AFM.  She currently plays a role of nexus between food industry and material science, which allows her to identify gaps within food product development and provides a platform to apply material science analytical techniques to generate unique information in the field of food microstructure and properties. She is also an active member of polymer division of RACI & Women in Technology.


Lena Constantin

Lena is a research scientist with 10+ years of laboratory experience in life sciences. The author of numerous articles and reviews in prestigious journals and book series, writer and contributor of successful grants, coordinator and manager of collaborative and interdisciplinary teams, and supervisor and mentor to over fifteen students and staff.  She has a diversified skillset and portfolio. Strong interest in science communication, mentorship, leadership, and strategy. Deeply passionate about how advances in sci-tech improve life quality and positively impact communities.


Brit Winnen

Brit is a Research Development Manager at Griffith University where she helps Griffith researchers develop large-scale research grant funding opportunities and strategically important partnerships to increase the University’s research income, reputation and impact. Such partnerships span industry, government agencies, universities, philanthropic foundations and other organisations. Brit received her PhD in medical microbiology from the ETH Zurich in Switzerland and has more than 12 years professional experience in research, research management and coordination. 

Brit developed and implemented public outreach initiatives to promote research activities and strengths, she was an UQ Science Ambassador and co-hosts a science show on community radio. In her spare time she enjoys ’making bubbles’ (scuba diving) to explore the amazing underwater world in Australia.


Maria Nguyen

Maria is a senior research assistant that manages a multi-disciplinary biology research laboratory at Griffith Institute for Drug Discovery, Griffith University. Whilst she has extensive experience in neurodegenerative disorders and cancer research, her focus lies in laboratory and occupational workplace health and safety, where she has managed PC2, PC3 and BC2 facilities. Other strong skillsets also include managing and providing simple to comprehensive application training on various high end microscopes and laboratory equipment. Her motivation and ultimate reward is being able to facilitate HDR students and staff colleagues to achieve the best results in their projects. Maria’s enthusiasm for science and research is also demonstrated in the science outreach events she had helped organise and played pivotal roles in.




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