26th October 2021

Four researchers from QUT have been recognised in the annual Women in Technology Awards.

The awards, which were announced last week, highlight the talent of women in STEM and the important contribution they make to research, policy, economic and social development across a range of categories.

QUT’s Dr Catarina Moreira from the Centre for Data Science was awarded the inaugural Sonja Bernhardt The Heart of Our Values Award for her work in data science.

Dr Catarina Moreira.

Dr Moreira is a lecturer at the School of Information Systems, where she holds the role of Deputy High Degree Research Academic Lead.

Dr Moreira’s research looks at how machines make decisions which may negatively affect different groups in the community – such as women being discarded in job applications, or minority groups in healthcare.

“We try to understand what artificial intelligence is doing so we can have more conscious human-centric decisions,” Dr Moreira said. “Encouraging more decision-making from computers to human is essential so that we have more fairness and more transparency where we make those human-based decisions.”

“I am passionate about supporting women in research and STEM to contribute to a society that promotes equal opportunities across all genders to engage in STEM,” she said.

Associate Professor Divya Mehta – Centre for Genomics and Personalised Health – was awarded the Research Leader Science Award.

Associate Professor Divya Mehta is geneticist at QUT who analyses big data to better understand how our genes contribute towards our health.

Associate Professor Divya Mehta.


Her research looks at the biological, psychological and social drivers of our stress response and suggests that positive lifestyle factors such as good diet, regular exercise and increased social support can reduce and even reverse some of the negative effects of stress on our genes.

“These awards, and the fact that QUT won four on the night, are a reflection of QUT’s commitment to women in research,” Associate Professor Mehta said.

The Rising Star Science Award winner was Dr Kate Helmstedt (pictured, main image) from the Centre for Data Science.

Dr Helmstedt is a senior lecturer and ARC Discovery Early Career Research Award Fellow who uses mathematics to understand how complex ecosystems work, and how we interact with them.

She examines ecosystems including the Great Barrier Reef, Antarctica, arid Australia, Queensland agricultural lands, and tropical ecosystems and then builds mathematical models representing species and ecosystems, including impacts from people – both good and bad.

“The recognition of women contributing to technology is very important because you can’t be what you can’t see. It’s important to give visibility to careers to encourage women to consider math in their future,” Dr Helmstedt said.

Maureen Ross with Professor Mia Woodruff.


QUT PhD student Maureen Ross won the Emerging Achiever Science Award.

Ms Ross’ research delves into the multi-disciplinary field of biotechnology and biomedical manufacturing. She uses a combination of 3D scanning methods, advanced image analysis and multi-material bioprinting methods to create scaffolds for ear cartilage.

The four researchers were joined at the awards night by four QUT finalists – Associate Professor Chamindie Punyardeera, Associate Professor Sara Couperthwaite, Dr Pranali Harshala Gammulle, Dr Fiona Lamari and Melody Dobrinin.

QUT Vice-Chancellor Professor Margaret Sheil congratulated the nominees. 

"It is wonderful to see the work of our female researchers highlighted - throughout the world the number of women in science and engineering roles decreases with seniority," Professor Sheil said. "Research shows that the more visible women are in science and academic roles, the more students can see themselves following those pathways when they come to choosing their career."



Media contact: 
Madeline Healy, QUT Media, 3138 3083 or m5.healy@qut.edu.au
After hours, Rod Chester, QUT Media team leader, 0407 585 901, media@qut.edu.au

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