Michael Smout

Research Officer, James Cook University

"Parasitic worm spit: how it heals, then kills."

FameLab Australia 2014 winner Michael grew up in Brisbane. A confirmed geek from six years old, science would always be a passion. Genetics captured his imagination in high school and university, but it wasn’t to be. After attempting to fly during a cycling accident, his face broke his fall and eventuated in graduation delays. But, through a convoluted series of wonderful events he now loves all things wormy and toxic at James Cook University.  

Francis Torres

University Lecturer, University of Western Australia

“Space-exploration tools based on light and sound interaction."
After working on biomedical computational physics in Canada, and on space-exploration technologies in Australia, Francis decided to engage with his true calling: communicating science to the general public. Francis loves the stage, whether it be as a musician, actor, acrobat or inspirational speaker. After a stint as a university lecturer, Francis discovered that students give back in the same measure as does a dedicated teacher.


Niraj Lal

Australian Renewable Energy Agency Postdoctoral Research Fellow, Australian National University

“Making solar panels better with Buddhist singing bowls”

Dr Niraj Lal is a Postdoctoral Research Fellow at the ANU, making solar cells better with nanophotonics. In 2012 Niraj graduated as a Gates Scholar with a PhD in physics from the University of Cambridge. Niraj has worked as a bicycle courier and science presenter to school kids across WA. He has appeared on the BBC’s Naked Scientists Radio, written a kids' book about chaos theory and was named 2013 ACT Young Tall Poppy of the Year. 

Lydia Tong

Resident in Veterinary Pathology, University of Sydney

“CSI Vets Close In On Animal Abusers”

Dr Lydia Tong is a veterinarian and veterinary pathologist who with a special interest in veterinary forensics, particularly the pathology of animal abuse. Lydia's research that used fractures to separate accident from abuse injuries in dogs was the first of its kind in the world. Lydia trained to be a vet at Cambridge University, and has worked at a monkey sanctuary in South Africa, and at Sydney's Taronga Zoo. 




James Makinson

Postdoctoral Researcher, The University of Sydney

"Killer bees looking for a tree near you!"

Dr James Makinson is a postdoctoral researcher in the Social Insects Lab at Sydney Uni. His academic career began with studying how Asian honey bees choose new nesting locations. Upon completing his PhD, James was still passionate about bees, so turned his attention to studying how urbanisation influences native bee diversity in Sydney. James is soon to relocate to London where he will study navigation in bumblebees.

Vince Polito

Early Career Research Fellow, Macquarie University

“Cracking the curious case of confused control”

Dr Vince Polito is an Early Career Research Fellow in the Department of Psychology at MacQuarie Univeristy in Sydney. Vince's work looks at the subjective experience of personal agency, i.e., the sense that our conscious intentions cause our actions.  Vince holds a PhD in Cognitive Science from Macquarie University.


Nick Roden

PhD Candidate, University of Tasmania and CSIRO

“Speeding towards an acidic ocean”

Nick Roden's work has seen him spend time in Antarctica, where he conducted research on ocean acidification, which refers to a decrease in the pH and dissolved carbonate ion concentration of seawater. Nick is currently a PhD Candidate with the CSIRO-UTAS PhD Program in Quantitative Marine Science.

James Aridas

Bachelor of Medicine/ Bachelor of Surgery & Doctor of Philosophy student, Monash University

“Jetlag treatment could prevent permanent newborn brain damage”

James Aridas is completing his Monash PhD student  has found that a simple skin patch could reduce brain damage in babies. James's research shows that melatonin, currently used in the US to treat jet lag, has the potential to reduce death rates and prevent disabilities caused by birth asphyxia. Funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, James' research team hopes to begin clinical trials in India next year.

Linden Servinis

PhD Candidate, Deakin University

“Chemistry and Carbon Fibre – A New Age of Technology”

Dr Linden Servinis is an Associate Research Fellow at Deakin University in Melbourne, with a PhD in Organic Chemistry of Carbon Surfaces. Linden's research addresses means of is making carbon fibre surfaces stronger, lighter and more crash-resistant.

Tim Brennan

Australian Institute for Bioengineering and Nanotechnology (AIBN) PhD student, University of Qld

“A fuel for the future”

Dr Tim Brennan holds a PhD from the University of Queensland's Australian Institute for Bioengineering and Nanotechnology (AIBN). Tim's PhD research saw him working with colleagues using sources such as sucrose from sugarcane to make renewable jet fuel.