Meet our Guests

The Discovery Pod, Season 3.

Dr Rachel Burton

Professor Rachel Burton

Professor Rachel Burton is a Senior Research Fellow at the University of Adelaide. She has been Chief Investigator on two Australian Research Council Centres of Excellence—Plant Cell Walls and Plant Energy Biology—and was named a Superstar of STEM by Science and Technology Australia in 2017. Rachel investigates plant-based sustainability solutions and believes Australia has the potential to boast a booming biofuel industry. Imagine: your house built from seed husks, your car manufactured using cannabis components, and your fuel extracted from the cactus we use to make tequila.

Listen to Professor Burton on Season 3, EP01: Growing our way out of the climate crisis.

Noune Melkounian

Dr Noune Melkoumian

Dr Noune Melkoumian is a senior lecturer in the University of Adelaide’s School of Civil, Environmental and Mining Engineering. She specialises in swarm robotics, an advanced area within the biomimetics field. Noune has patented cutting-edge sensor technology designed to mitigating disasters here on Earth—and potentially off-world on other planets. She currently has two companies interested in commercialising this invention—one for Australia and New Zealand and the other ready to go global.

Listen to Dr Melkoumianis on Season 3, EP02: Biomimicry: engineering innovations inspired by nature.

Portrait of Dr Anne-Lise Chaber

Dr Anne-Lise Chaber

Dr Anne-Lise Chaber is a senior lecturer in the University of Adelaide’s School of Animal and Veterinary Science. She is steering Australia’s groundbreaking participation in a huge international research effort: training dogs to identify COVID-19 and prevent the spread of the virus. Anne-Lise has over 10 years’ experience as a field epidemiologist in England, Botswana and the United Arab Emirates, and has conducted research on the transmission of multiple diseases, including Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus at the wildlife-livestock-human interface.

Listen to Dr Chaber on Season 3, EP03: Dogs saving lives with a sniff. How can we decode disease with scent?

Dr Alice Jones

Dr Alice Jones

Dr Alice Jones is a lecturer in the School of Biological Sciences at the University of Adelaide. She was awarded the Faculty of Sciences Dean's Award for Research Partnership in 2019, won a 2020 Women in Innovation Award, and was named a 2021 South Australian Young Tall Poppy in Science. Alice is an Associate Editor for the journal Remote Sensing in Ecology and Conservation—published by the Zoological Society of London—and serves on blue carbon technical reference panels for the South Australian government, the Commonwealth government Department for Agriculture Water and Environment, and the Australian Clean Energy Regulator.

Listen to Dr Jones on Season 3, EP04: Is blue carbon the answer to lowering emissions? The science of sinking carbon.

Dr Stephen Rodda

Dr Stephen Rodda

Stephen Rodda is Chief Innovation and Commercialisation Officer at the University of Adelaide. He holds a PhD from the University of Adelaide, was a Fellow at Harvard University, trained at the Harvard Business School and is a fellow of the Australian Institute of Company Directors. Stephen has supported the start-up and scale-up phases of over 15 companies and secured more than $300m in investment, grants and other funds. He is currently chair of Sparc Hydrogen Pty Ltd and The Hospital Research Foundation Group Board. He is also a non-Executive Director for Greenhill Energy Pty Ltd. 

Listen to Dr Rodda on Season 3, EP05: The Business of Innovation. What does it take to bring big ideas to market?

Associate Professor Carolyn Semmler

Professor Carolyn Semmler

Carolyn leads the Applied Cognition and Experimental Psychology (ACEP) research group, focusing on the application of theories and models of cognition, judgement and decision-making to legal and medical contexts. 

The group’s research aims to understand human interaction with intelligent agents and the development of human-machine interfaces for defence and national security. Their work is driven by human rights and the value of reducing harm to humans through technology and innovation.

Listen to Professor Semmler on Season 3, EP06: The algorithm will see you now. Can AI fill the gaps in our mental health care system?

Dr Julie-Anne Toohey

Dr Julie-Anne Toohey

Dr. Julie-Anne Toohey completed her PhD in Criminology through the University of Adelaide and is a teacher and researcher at the University of Adelaide, South Australia. Key areas of research include the importance of maintaining connections between incarcerated parents and their children, and the lived experiences of incarcerated women with cognitive disabilities. Her research has taken place in a number of prisons throughout Australia and privileges the voices of incarcerated people. Julie-Anne has taught Criminology at the University of Tasmania, the University of South Australia, and Flinders University, and has been part of research teams associated with the Criminology Research Unit at the University of Tasmania and the Crime and Policy Research Unit at Flinders University.

Listen to Dr Toohey on Season 3, EP08: How can we rethink reoffence?

Professor Melissa Nursey-Bray

Professor Melissa Nursey-Bray

My research investigates the connection between people and the environment. I focus on how to engage communities to be part of environmental decision making, particularly in the context of climate change and biodiversity protection. I have worked with Indigenous, ports, local government and fishing communities on a range of projects. These projects have examined how conflict, social and cultural values, knowledge, social learning and perceptions affect how people become involved in or help drive environmental sustainability.

My most recent work explore how different communities can adapt to climate change. This has included developing adaptation strategies for Indigenous peoples, looking at how urban areas can be ‘greened’ and the ways in which fisheries can be made more resilient and responsive to climate threats.

I am currently working on an ARC Future Fellowship that investigates how different knowledges can work together to address biodiversity and climate change impacts.

I welcome inquiries from Masters and PhD candidates interested in: urban ecology, Indigenous resource management, climate change adaptation, co-management, and fisheries/marine management.

Listen to Professor Nursey-Bray on Season 3, EP09: Dedication or deception? How greenwashing impacts us all.

Professor Deborah Turnbull

Professor Deborah Turnbull

Deborah Turnbull was awarded the Chair in Psychology at the University of Adelaide in 2005 and has been researching in the area of health and clinical psychology for over 20 years. Her major contributions have been in relation to breast and colorectal cancer screening and maternity care; her work has influenced the development of services in Australia and the UK. Professor Turnbull has published widely during her career. Her work has been published in high quality outlets including The Lancet, International Journal of Behavioral Medicine and Medical Screening. Her research group regularly presents at the peak international meetings relevant to her field, including the International Congress of Behavioral Medicine.

Listen to Professor Turnbull on Season 3, EP10: How can we build better care for men’s mental health? The conversation Australia needs to have.

Professor Michelle Waycott

Professor Michelle Waycott

Michelle is Head of the State Herbarium of South Australia  and as Chief Botanist she  supports and enhances our understanding of the flora of South Australia with a particular emphasis on systematics and taxonomy. In addition to her own research, which has a focus on the systematics of seagrasses, she encourages research activities on the flora the student research projects, supporting Herbarium staff to conduct research in their areas of interest and by facilitating access to the herbarium for other researchers to use.

Michelle is a strategic advisor within the Department of Environment Water and Natural Resources on a wide range of natural resource management issues. She currently has research activities underway that aim to inform management of threatened species, restoration and to identify knowledge gaps for seagrasses and seagrass ecosystems in South Australia.

Michelle continues to teach in the School of Biological Sciences in the Evolutionary Biology and Marine Biology programs and take on honours, masters and PhD students as a supervisor.

She currently has research partnerships with funding with James Cook Univeristy, The University of Virginia, Edith Cowan University and The University of Western Australia.

My research group undertakes to utilise modern new and 'in-development' molecular and analytical techniques to investigate our research questions. We have a strong collaborative focus and try to get the best outcomes both cost effectively and in a learning environment.

Listen to Professor Waycott on Season 3, EP11: If a tree falls in a forest, what happens to its carboncredits? Unpacking Australia’s carbon offset scheme.

Dr Dominic McAffee

Dr Dominic McAfee

Dominic’s work centers on the recovery of lost marine ecosystems. This research seeks to understand and leverage the ecological and social complexities of marine socio-ecological systems, to develop solutions that ensure marine habitat restoration is both a social and environmental success. Dominic’s research focuses on four main areas:

  • Investigating the role of ecological interactions and technology in accelerating the restoration of lost shellfish reefs.
  • Understanding how shellfish ecosystems, particularly oysters, enhance the resilience and function of coastal ecosystems.
  • Developing conservation messaging strategies that leverage people’s cognitive biases to enhance public engagement with conservation.
  • Understanding the socio-political drivers of conservation successes so they can be disseminated and replicated.

Dominic is deeply fascinated by conservation psychology and what makes conservation efforts successful. He loves all things oyster and communicating science to diverse audiences.

Listen to Dr McAfee on Season 3, EP12: Can we revive extinct ecosystems with music? Exploring the ocean orchestra.

Lewis Dunnigan

Dr Lewis Dunnigan

Lewis Dunnigan is the Managing Director of Bygen, a company he helped co-found in 2018. Bygen is a spin-out from the University of Adelaide's Chemical Engineering department. Prior to his involvement in Bygen, Lewis's research career included investigating molecular simulations in porous materials and the air pollution impacts of biomass thermal treatment processes. While at Bygen, he has raised over $1.6M in funding from both government grants and venture capital and has helped scale the technology from the bench-top scale to industrial scale.

Listen to Dr Dunnigan on Season 3, EP13: Turning waste into worth. Could activated carbon be the answer to cleaning up our environment? With Dr Lewis Dunnigan

Dr Valerie Caines

Dr Valerie Caines

Dr Valerie Caines has a Doctor of Philosophy (Management/OB) from the Australian National University, Canberra. She joined the University of Adelaide in February 2022. Val is currently the Head of Discipline for Management in the Adelaide Business School and serves on the Engagement Committee.

Prior to joining University of Adelaide, she worked at Flinders University (South Australia) and has had a long career in the private sector in senior HR Executive roles and Management Consulting. She is a Certified Practitioner with the Australian Human Resources Institute and is devoted to the HR profession and HR practitioner education.

Val is focussed on making ageing at work a positive experience for both individuals and organisations. She is affiliated with the Work and Ageing Research Network (WARN) located at the Australian National University. Her program of research focuses on the management and development of older workers, mature entrepreneurship, retirement transitions, and employee development in late career.

Listen to Dr Caines on Season 3, EP14: From box-ticking to goal-kicking. Achieving workforce diversity.

Dr Sanjay Mazumdar

Dr Sanjay Mazumdar

Dr Sanjay Mazumdar, Executive Director of the Defence Trailblazer for Concept to Sovereign Capability, is a leading defence industry specialist with more than 30 years’ experience in the sector. During his career, he has held senior positions in the defence sector. At BAE Systems Australia he was Head of Engineering Operations and Acting Engineering Director. He has also held a position as CEO of the Data to Decisions Cooperative Research Centre (D2D CRC Ltd) and founding Board Director of the D2D CRC's spinout companies - Fivecast and NQRY.

Listen to Dr Mazumdar on Season 3, EP15: Fortifying Australia’s defence capabilities. How do we prepare for tomorrow’s challenges today?