Alan Robertson

Alan Robertson has wild hair, a cute dog and a commitment to helping more people use the information in their DNA to guide their clinical care. He does this both as an academic researcher, and as the founder of a genomics start-up. Alan is an alum, who has been extensively involved in the start-up ecosystem at The University of Queensland. Alan believes that some problems are best solved by universities, some problems are best solved by industry and some are best solved by the combination of the two. In his talk, Alan will explore how researchers, academics, people with ideas can all benefit from thinking about commercialisation as an avenue for translation.

Ashley Hanger

Ashley is a Startup Founder and Digital Content Creator experienced in storytelling and young-blooded digital strategy. Her love for words began at an early age after visiting The Courier Mail factory on a Grade 5 excursion and was cultivated by studying a Bachelor of Journalism/Communication at The University of Queensland (Class of ‘15). After seeing the challenges of Type 1 Diabetes in her partner, Ashley found her passion providing support to people living with chronic illness. She founded Stripped Supply, Australia’s first diabetes subscription box, with a vision to make diabetes healthcare more accessible. She’s personally fundraised over $10,000 for Type 1 Diabetes research and was named UQ Entrepreneur of the Year in 2021. Ashley will join us to share how words can harm people living with chronic illnesses, like diabetes. 

Caroline Wilson-Barnao

Caroline Wilson-Barnao is a lecturer in the School of Communication and Arts at The University of Queensland, and her recent book Digital Access and Museums as Platforms investigates the tensions and benefits involved in making cultural collections available using digital technologies. Caroline’s career spans two decades of experience in communication and marketing, supporting non-profit, arts organisations and in the corporate sector. She currently teaches in theory and practical subjects at The University of Queensland and in 2019 filled the position of acting director of the Master of Museum Studies program. In her talk, Caroline will discuss how digital technologies are shaping culture and memory institutions. This, she argues, is important because large technology companies are increasingly powerful and now shape our culture and memory institutions.

Christina Zdenek

Dr Christina Zdenek is a former Fulbrighter, former professional basketball player, and a 2021 ABC Top 5 Scientist. As a biologist and toxinologist, she manages the Venom Evolution Lab at The University of Queensland. Her research, published in over 50 scientific publications, explores the systemic effects of animal venoms, therapeutic options to treat snakebite, as well as snake ecology, and snake behaviour. Her passion for wildlife and snakes in particular began as a child when her family pet wasn’t a fluffy dog but rather a scaley 2.5-metre Boa constrictor snake. Her unwavering passion for wildlife fuels her avid science communication where she uses science to promote a better world for both humans and wildlife. In her talk, Christina questions the logic behind the fear and maligned reputation of Australia’s highly venomous snakes. In seven clear and convincing points, she offers a new and surprising perspective on this precarious subject.

Jacqui Barfoot

Dr Jacqui Barfoot is an alum of the School of Health and Rehabilitation Science at The University of Queensland, an experienced Occupational Therapist, and Postdoctoral Clinical Researcher. She is passionate about creating a shift in early childhood intervention where parents are at the centre of therapy, supporting lifelong and rich relationships with their children. Jacqui has developed an innovative and practical training package for early childhood practitioners to feel confident incorporating a relationship-focused approach in their therapy as a foundation for all other areas of child development. She is also involved in several clinical research projects that focus on supporting parents who have a child with a disability. Jacqui will join us to explore why it can be hard to express our feelings and how this can affect the learning and development of children.

James Kesby

Dr James Kesby is a behavioural neuroscientist who has focused on the brain circuits that underlie psychotic disorders and addiction. As an Amplify Fellow at the Queensland Brain Institute at The University of Queensland, he is particularly interested in how the brain computes uncertain situations in order to make an optimal choice. His work spans circuit-based approaches in rodents to psychological studies in people (including those with psychosis). Problems with decision-making are a large burden for those with psychotic disorders, impacting their ability to achieve their goals and prosper. Unlike psychotic symptoms, there are currently no treatments that improve decision-making. In his talk, Dr Kesby will highlight how we all take for granted our brain’s ability to make the best choice amid uncertainty, and the impact it can have when we don’t do this consistently. 

Jeremy Hunt

Jeremy Hunt is a Penultimate Year Medical Student at The University of Queensland, with an undergraduate dual-major Bachelor of Science in Computer and Biomedical Science. He is the founder and CEO of The VacSeen Project, a registered charity providing innovative preventative healthcare to people experiencing vulnerability, 2022 Young Brisbane Citizen of the Year, and currently works as a research associate at The Grattan Institute. Jeremy Hunt will join us to share about his experience working in improving the accessibility of healthcare and vaccinations. 


Jessica Korte & Julie Lyons

Dr Jessica Korte is passionate about the ways good technology can improve lives. Dr Korte is a lecturer at the School of Information Technology and Electrical Engineering at The University of Queensland. To ensure technology is “good”, she advocates involving end users in the design process, especially when those people belong to “minority” user groups. Her philosophy for technology design is that the needs of people who are disempowered or disabled by society should be considered first; everyone else will then benefit from technology that maximises usability.

Julie Lyons is passionate about sports, drama and Auslan. She is one of the Deaf leaders within the Queensland Deaf community, being involved in major community sporting and cultural events. She has been a teacher of Auslan for 28 years, and the State Administrator at Deaf Sports & Recreation Queensland for 17. She loves being involved in any projects that might be beneficial for the Deaf community, especially those developing technology for better access for Deaf people to communicate with the wider communities.

Dr Jessica Korte and Julie Lyons will join us to discuss their project of developing “Alexa for Auslan” and the importance of co-developing the solution with Deaf people. 

Pieter van Heerden

Pieter van Heerden is on a mission to reduce personal vehicle ownership. He dreams of a world that relies less on large metal machines that cause congestion, global warming, and take up space in our cities. This passion has prompted him to spend his career working on alternative transport modalities. After graduating from The University of Queensland with a double degree in Commerce and Civil Engineering, Pieter joined the team who brought the first major ridesharing app to Brisbane. He currently manages Beam Mobility for Queensland. Beam partners with local governments like Brisbane City Council to replace car trips with carbon-neutral e-scooters and e-bikes. Beam is also a transport partner of ODIN Pass, a journey planning app and mobility as a service trial at UQ. Pieter van Heerden will join us to discuss how giving up our cars could improve our own and other people’s lives.

Serena Mak

Serena Mak is an alum of the Business School at The University of Queensland and an accomplished musician who finds deep fulfilment in sharing her love for life and music with her piano students. She has taught piano for over 18 years and is a two-time recipient of the Yamaha Keyboard Festival Teacher Award. She has also managed and trained teachers for eleven different piano school locations. As a young girl, Serena pushed through piano exam after piano exam, completing her diploma in performance at the tender age of 13. Later in life she began her teaching journey, returning to the sacred altar of piano exams to offer up a new generation of young musicians for dedication and sacrifice. But after many years of burning-and-learning alongside her students, Serena is ready to upturn the entire system. In her talk, Serena will unravel the problem with traditional, assessment-focused learning and propose a new and exciting alternative.

Tamielle Brunt

Tamielle Brunt is an ecologist, researching platypus populations within South-East Queensland as part of her PhD through the University of Queensland. Tamielle is also the PlatypusWatch Project Officer for the Wildlife Preservation Society of Queensland, helping to advocate and implement conservation efforts to protect this iconic species. Tamielle is speaking about her cute aggression for the platypus and how this has led her on a journey of passion for protecting them. Tamielle is encouraging us to reconnect with nature – to create a connection that bursts us with emotions to ignite action to help the natural world. Not matter how small the action, together, it has a ripple effect and makes a big difference. 

Unngoorra & Injarra Harbour

Unngoorra and Injarra Harbour are brothers from Winton, Central West Queensland. They are descendants of the Warluwarra, Eastern Arrente, and Yirendali peoples. With family connection spanning from the North Western regions of Queensland, into the Central Desert regions of the Northern Territory. Injarra is in his second year of biomedical science and will commence the Medicine program in 2024, Unngoorra is currently in his 2nd year of the Medicine program, both at The University of Queensland. Unngoorra and Injarra’s talk will explore the contemporary Indigenous concept of ‘living in two worlds’ and how it applies to the younger generation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait people, particularly through balancing the weight of expectations placed by both worlds.