10 Sydney women to watch

5 March 2018
This International Women's Day we celebrate 10 remarkable University of Sydney women who are making substantial contributions to improving people's lives and the world we live in.

Anna Dean

Bachelor of Veterinary Science (Hons 1), 2003 and Master of International Public Health (Hons), 2008

Veterinary Epidemiologist, World Health Organization

Anna was drawn to the relationship between the health of animals and people while working at her first job as a veterinarian in Sydney. This led her to complete a Master of International Public Health where she explored infectious diseases, nutrition and the overall wellbeing of humans and animals in developing countries.

“In developing countries, a larger proportion of the population live in close contact with livestock, on which they may rely for their livelihoods and as a route out of poverty. However, living in close proximity to animals also brings certain public health risks."

Anna has spent considerable time volunteering overseas, starting in India with a not-for-profit organisation, Vets Beyond Borders. She joined the executive board and served terms as President and Treasurer. She was also selected as an Australian Youth Ambassador for Development through the Australian government’s overseas aid program (formerly known as AusAID), spending one year working in Vietnam.

Dr Anna Dean

Why Anna is a woman to watch

Anna completed her PhD in epidemiology at the Swiss Tropical and Public Health Institute in Switzerland in 2013, which explored the impact of brucellosis and Q fever in West Africa. She conducted field surveys in Côte d’Ivoire and Togo, working with rural communities and their livestock.

Anna is now working in the areas of zoonotic and drug-resistant tuberculosis (TB) with the World Health Organization (WHO) in Geneva, Switzerland which is the health agency of the United Nations. In this role, she is supporting governments to address the disease in their countries and advocating to donors and researchers about the social and economic impact in the hope of combatting the global epidemic.

Camilla Corbett

Bachelor Music Education, 2017

Teacher at Marsden High School

As a music teacher at Marsden High School, Camilla Corbett is working to encourage more students to take music as an elective by modernising the music program. Camilla Corbett is a Kamilaroi woman, a member of the Gandangara Land Council, and participates as a volunteer in the Community Choir for Brigidine College.

Camilla Corbett

Why Camilla is a woman to watch

Camilla received the NSW Department of Education Indigenous Teacher Education Scholarship in 2012 and Indigenous Australian Progress Award in 2015 and 2016. By the second year of her degree, Camilla secured an internship with Opera Australia which quickly became a job coordinating concerts in Western Sydney and with regional conservatoriums.

In her high school classroom Camilla is using music technology to inspire and engage students and was recently invited to present her work for Google for Education.

Nancy Nguyen

Master of Business Administration, 2017

Commercialisation Manager at Woodside Energy (Technology)

In 2014, Nancy Nguyen was the inaugural recipient of the UN Women’s National Committee Australia MBA Scholarship. She is now a Perth-based Commercial Manager for Woodside Energy with 12 years’ experience in the oil and gas industry.

Nancy is currently working to transition the energy industry towards reliable green operations which includes exploring the use of renewables, batteries and hydrogen technology.  

Why Nancy is a woman to watch

Together with her team, Nancy has successfully enabled Woodside to bring the first LNG powered marine support vessel to Australia, deliberately displacing emissions associated with burning heavy diesel oils.

Nancy Nguyen

In 2017 she also helped to commission the world’s first installation of an industrial scale 1MW lithium ion battery on an offshore oil and gas platform. Both projects target significant reduction in carbon emissions associated with energy generation. This will position both industry and Australia to collectively meet tighter emissions regulatory requirements agreed by 186 countries at COP21 (Conference of Parties) and actions taken at COP23 UN Climate Change Forum.

Ishaa Sandhu

Sydney Law School Juris Doctor student (third year)

Ishaa Sandu was named an inaugural recipient of the 2016 Westpac Future Leaders Scholarship, which recognises exceptional individuals with the potential to make a difference to Australia’s future through technology and innovation, strengthening Australia-Asia ties or enabling positive social change.

In 2017 she was awarded the Davis Project for Peace Prize. The $10,000 grant helped her to establish her project, Beauty & Banking.

Why Ishaa is a woman to watch

The idea for Beauty & Banking came to Ishaa after experiencing difficulties opening a bank account while undertaking a university internship in India after demonetisation.

Ishaa Sandhu

“It took an educated, well-connected, economics and law student from Australia seven visits to the bank branch over four weeks to open an account. So that raised the question as to how difficult the transition must be for the ordinary female in India”, said Ishaa.

Beauty & Banking is helping to close the financial and digital literacy gaps experienced by so many, but particularly women in the historically cash reliant beauty industry.

So far Ishaa has organised six mobile workshops for approximately 300 participants. The positive response to the program has led to discussions with banking partners to provide more accessible advice for women, as well as inspiration to take the idea into other female-dominated industries.

Rowena Tran

Bachelor of Health Sciences, 2016

Master of Speech Language Pathology student

Rowena Tran has been member of the Fairfield Multicultural Advisory Committee since 2016 and a Youth Ambassador for the NSW Multicultural Youth Affairs Network since 2017. In 2017 she represented Australia at the University Scholars Leadership Symposium at the United Nations in Bangkok.

Using skills learned studying health sciences, she has volunteered at a rural school in Taiwan as well as at a rehabilitation centre in Vietnam. This past Australia Day, Rowena was named ‘Young Citizen of the Year’ at the Australia Day Community Awards.

“Access to health care and reducing the inequalities that many people in rural areas face is something that needs to be addressed not just in developing countries, but all around the world.”

Rowena Tran

Why Rowena is a woman to watch

Rowena aims to return to Taiwan and Vietnam to improve health outcomes for children. In Taiwan, she plans to work with teachers from rural schools to implement more sustainable English programs for the children.

In Vietnam she is raising money to improve rehabilitation centre facilities and is organising workshops to help therapists build skills that they can use to provide more effective therapy to the children, “In the future, I would like to be able to influence the policy in Vietnam and change the health care system for the better.”

Nicky Ringland

PhD in Computer Science (Computational Linguistics), 2015

Computing Education Specialist, Australian Computing Academy

Dr Nicky Ringland is a ‘Superstar of STEM’, recognised last year by Science and Technology Australia for her pioneering work in the fields of in science, technology, engineering and mathematics.

The computer science alumna’s accolades include being a former Google Women Techmakers scholarship recipient and being named the Faculty of Engineering and IT Young Alumna of the Year (2016).

Dr Nicky Ringland

Why Nicky is a woman to watch

Nicky is passionate about teaching the next generation, especially girls and young women, the skills they need to become the creators of tomorrow and strives to “show how exciting, diverse and rewarding (not to mention cool!) STEM careers can be”.

As a Computing Education Specialist at the Australian Computing Academy, she is providing primary and secondary educators with the most up-to-date intellectual, technical and practical leadership skills required to teach digital technologies within the Australian curriculum.

She balances this role with her other responsibilities as co-founder of both Grok Learning, an online learning platform that teaches students in Years 3–10 coding and technology, and the Girls' Programming Network, an extra-curricular program for female high school students.

Christine Chen

Master of Engineering (Electrical Engineering), 2011

Board Director, The Warren Centre for Advanced Engineering

Christine Chen is a rising star of the technology industry who was last year identified as an innovator and leader by influential non-profit organisation Girls in Tech Taiwan.

Her list of accomplishments include being named Engineers Australia’s Young Professional of the Year NSW, Australian Industry and Defence Network’s Young Achiever Award NSW, and the Faculty of Engineering and IT Young Alumna of the Year (2014).

Christine Chen

Why Christine is a woman to watch

Christine is a firm believer of the positive outcomes a career in technology can offer, not only because “it’s challenging and exciting, but also as it allows you to build a better future for society”.

The electrical engineering alumna most recently served as Chief Operating Operator and Chief Engineer of medical device start-up Leo Cancer Care (formerly Nano-X). In her role, she was helping to develop a new radiotherapy system to achieve smarter, smaller cancer care with real-time 3D tumour tracking technology. 

She currently serves as a Board Director at The Warren Centre for Advanced Engineering, Australia’s premier independent think-tank on science, technology and innovation, having previously chaired Young Engineers Australia Sydney and deputy-chaired the Australian Society for Defence Engineering (NSW).

Alice Gibson

Bachelor of Science (Hons) 2011, PhD in Nutrition, 2017

Dietitian and Researcher at the Boden Institute of Obesity, Nutrition, Exercise and Eating Disorders

Dr Alice Gibson is passionate about alleviating the obesity epidemic: “In Australia, obesity has affected every facet of our population, with almost two thirds of adults now considered overweight or obese. It is one of the greatest public health challenges globally”.

During Alice’s PhD research she pioneered the method of estimating food and beverage portion size using only hands. For this research Alice was awarded the Dietitians Association of Australia (DAA) President’s Award for Innovation.

Dr Alice Gibson

Why Alice is a woman to watch

Alice aims to determine what we need to eat to reduce our risk of neurodegenerative conditions, such as Alzheimer’s Disease: “I aspire to be an expert focused on the impact of diet in preventing or delaying cognitive decline in older adults at risk of dementia, as well as how to deliver dietary interventions via the internet for population wide impact.”

To achieve this goal, she has teamed up with the Healthy Brain Ageing Group at the Brain and Mind Centre to adapt and tailor a dietary intervention called What to Eat to Beat Dementia (WEB-D).

Isabella Bain

Bachelor of Design Computing, 2016

Senior UX Consultant, IBM

Just one year after completing her Bachelor of Design Computing, Isabella (Bella) Bain was promoted to the role of Senior UX Consultant at IBM. As a user-experience designer Bella has been able to lead exciting projects including FrogID, an app developed with the Australian Museum to put more frog species on the map and track changes to their species and habitats over time.

Isabella Bain

Why Bella is a woman to watch

When she’s not using her design skills to improve our experience of the world, Bella can be found creating large-scale artworks. Shown as part of Vivid Sydney 2017, MailboX is an interactive digital post box that analyses and responds to messages sent via Twitter.

This year Bella is returning to Vivid to show a new project and will take MailboX to I Light Marina Bay in Singapore. Bella was also a 2017 AMY Award Winner for her project developing a wearable tech support solution for lower limbed musculoskeletal disorder rehabilitation. Outside of the tech space Bella is currently co-captain of the IBM Dragon Boating Team and a Dragon Boating World Championships gold medallist.

Cleo Loi

Bachelor of Science (Advanced) (Hons 1), 2014

PhD student, Cambridge University

In 2015, Cleo Loi won the Astronomical Society of Australia and Australian Academy of Science's 2015 Bok Prize for her plasma tube research.

While working on her undergraduate thesis, Cleo discovered and convinced the scientific community the existence of tubular plasma structures in the inner layers of the magnetosphere surrounding the Earth.

Cleo was the first person to successfully prove their existence using a powerful radio telescope located in Western Australia. "For over 60 years, scientists believed these structures existed but by imaging them for the first time, we have provided visual evidence that they are really there", said Cleo. In doing so Cleo discovered a new technique which astronomers can implement when observing and measuring the sky.

Cleo Loi

Why Cleo is a woman to watch

Cleo is currently studying her PhD at Cambridge University on 'Magnetic fields and stellar oscillations' in the Astrophysical Fluid Dynamics Group, under the Department of Applied Mathematics and Theoretical Physics. She is investigating how magnetic fields alter the spread of waves inside stars. “Standard scientific theories tend to neglect the influence of these waves, but they can be measured by a star’s change in brightness. This means that our theoretical ideas can be combined with observation to teach us more about the physical environments deep inside stars”, says Cleo.

Related articles