Friday, September 4th, 2009
Women in technology and science are having a significant impact on everything from bone marrow transplants to mining. Their efforts were recognised at the 12th annual Women in Technology Awards, held at Brisbane's Tivoli on Saturday 29th August.

Special guest the Honourable Karen Struthers, Minister for Women and Minister for Community Services and Housing, and 250 industry guests attended the 1920s themed Gala to hear about the inspiring achievements of the eight winners (see full list below).

The Women in Technology Awards recognise the achievements of women working in the information technology and biotechnology industries. In its lifetime, 88 awards have been made with the winners sharing in over $570,000 in cash and prizes, and achieving recognition for excellence in their field.

“Throughout history many brilliant women have not been recognised for their incredible contributions to science and technology," said Anne-Marie Birkill, President of WiT.  "The WiT awards aim to ensure the current cohort of female scientists and technologists are recognised and rewarded for their achievements and to identify wonderful role models for men and women working or aspiring to work in technology.”

For the first time in 2009 WiT has awarded an Employer of Choice, a new category sponsored by the Queensland Government Office for Women. This award was made to the Mining Industries Skills Centre in recognition of its commitment to providing both men and women with a supportive and flexible work environment.

The winners of the 2009 WiT Awards are:

WiT | Biotech Rising Star Award Sponsored by IHBI
Hannah Cullup
Mater Medical Research Institute
Suburb: Arana Hills

Marie Curie Fellowship recipient, Dr Hannah Cullup arrived in Brisbane in August last year to undertake a post-doctoral role within MMRI's Dendritic Cell Antigen Team, where she is pursuing research into graft versus host disease.

GVHD is a serious complication following bone marrow transplantation, occurring in 40-70% of patients. GVHD is caused by the new transplanted immune system recognising the patient's body as foreign, attacking the skin, liver and GI tract. Dr Cullup hopes to determine whether depleting dendritic cells, (a specialised white blood cell which controls the body's immune responses), could play a major role in preventing GVHD.

The research will use an in vitro model of GVHD that she has brought with her from the UK, and a chimeric human/mouse model of GVHD to evaluate the novel antibodies generated by the MMRI. This could potentially be a new preventative therapy for patient's undergoing bone marrow transplantation.
When she's not investigating alternate treatment options for patients, Dr Cullup is getting to know the world beyond the lab. “Brisbane's constant sunshine suits me just fine,” she said.

WiT | Biotech Research Award Sponsored by UQ
Yvonne Buckley
School of Biological Sciences, The University of Queensland
Suburb: St Lucia

Yvonne works jointly in the School of Integrative Biology at UQ and CSIRO Sustainable Ecosystems and is interested in various aspects of applied theoretical ecology. In particular she works on the population dynamics, species interactions and management of invasive plants. She recently moved from the UK where she did her undergraduate degree at the University of Oxford and PhD at Imperial College London, and spent time as a post-doc at the NERC Centre for Population Biology at Imperial.

Yvonne’s current research projects include: disturbance ecology and weed management, the effects in invasive plants, dispersal of Scotch broom (Cytisus scoparius), dispersal and spread of exotic pines in New Zealand, decision making for weed control on a landscape scale, herbivory and biocontrol, frugivory and seed dispersal in fragmented landscapes of the Australian Northern Tropics, plant population syndromes and restoration ecology of native communities.

Yvonne is involved in the Australian Weed Management CRC with collaborative projects on unpalatable grasses, woody weeds and weed dispersal. She has active collaborations with researchers in Oxford University (UK), Imperial College London (UK), University of Sheffield (UK), Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research (Germany), CAB International (Switzerland), Landcare Research (NZ), Stockholm University (Sweden) and ENSIS (NZ).

WiT | Biotech Outstanding Achievement Award Sponsored by QCTN
Zee Upton
QUT Institute of Health and Biomedical Innovation
Suburb: Kelvin Grove

Professor Zee Upton is a biochemist, inventor, tissue engineer and dedicated developer of new Intellectual Property opportunities. Her research outcomes have resulted in traditional scientific/academic outputs and commercialisation outcomes. She is an inaugural Smart State Senior Fellow, a Professor in Life Sciences and Leader of the Tissue Repair and Regeneration Program in the QUT Institute of Health and Biomedical Innovation.

She is also technical founder and Consulting Chief Scientific Officer for Tissue Therapies Limited. Her diverse expertise in growth factor protein, molecular and cellular technologies underpinned her discovery of VitroGro®, a growth factor/extracellular matrix protein complex that stimulates cells to grow and migrate.

Since the award of her PhD in Biochemistry from the University of Adelaide in 1994 Prof Upton has developed a significant record of innovative high quality scientific research that has yielded: $11+ million in research funding from competitive grant schemes and industry; 60+ publications; establishment of several new innovative collaborative research projects; successful development and mentoring of many early career researchers and research students; and 8 patents/pending applications.

Her knowledge, skills and creativity have been recognised by several awards, including the Qld Government 2004 "Smart Women - Smart State Award" and sponsored invitations to describe her research to 17 international and 21 national forums over the last 4 years.

WiT | Employer of Choice Award Sponsored by the Office for Women
Mining Industry Skills Centre Inc – Derek Hunter
Suburb: Spring Hill

Formerly known as the Queensland Mining Industry Training Advisory Body (QMITAB) the organisation was relaunched in 2006 as a centre for excellence and renamed the Mining Industry Skills Centre Incorporated.

The Mining Industry Skills Centre is a Queensland based, not-for-profit organisation that partners with industry and informs government to maximise the skills of workers in the resources industry to assist in the sustainability of the industry.

The judges awarded this prize to this organization based on the following observations:

  • Demonstrated achievement/successes in challenging stereotypes in a male dominated industry.
  • Approach is based on merit, capability and the value women bring to the organisation.
  • Creating an environment of support and reassurance that allows women ‘to fly’.
  • Nurturing and mentoring future generations of senior female executives.

WiT | ICT Professional Award Sponsored by UNISYS
Katherine Dann

Department of Education and Training
Suburb: Fairfield

Katherine’s knowledge and experience of enterprise technology is both broad and deep. She holds a Masters of Commerce, majoring in Information Systems, and has contributed 15 strong years in the ICT industry working for government. The judging panel felt that Katherine’s ‘hands-on’ approach, technical experience, and aspirations for the future, provide an excellent grounding for a very successful career in ICT.

WiT | ICT Outstanding Achievement Award Sponsored by Optus
Sonja Bernhardt

Suburb: Helensvale

Sonja is passionate about her industry and since 1997 has consistently encouraged others to either take up a career in technology or adopt technology in their daily use through a multitude of career, role model, mentoring and board readiness programs . In addition she is the innovator of some high profile, high impact non traditional girl and women in technology activities.

Sonja has several degrees and is a Certified Developer of Enterprise (CDE) and Fellow of the Australian Institute of Management. She was the first Australian inducted into the Women in Technology International Hall of Fame (Silicon Valley 2005).

Sonja was Founder of WiT and AWISE and has held and continues to hold a string of impressive board and executive appointments locally, nationally and internationally. She has founded several start-up companies including her current venture, award-winning Thoughtware.

She is known for her obvious enthusiasm, visionary leadership, intelligent rational thinking and business acumen. The Australian IT industry and her peers recognise her as an action oriented results achieving role model who consistently delivers benefits through her innovation, leadership, pioneering achievement and collaborative contribution to the development of the technology industries.

WiT | PhD Career Start Award Sponsored by Griffith
Therese Seldon

Mater Medical Research Institute
Suburb: South Brisbane

Currently Therese is PhD student at the Mater Medical ResearchInstitute in the field of Biotechnology and a part-time business student completing a Graduate Certificate in Technology and Innovation Management. Ms Seldon is hoping to develop therapeutic DC antibodies to treat or prevent GVHD as well as develop antibodies for DC vaccination of patients against leukaemia and other cancers. She is using antibodies already developed at The Mater Medical Research Institute that recognise DC. Therese has enthusiastically adopted a number of new technologies as well as unfamiliar existing technologies. She manages all this whilst making a strong contribution to institute and the community. She has a promising future in the development of new diagnostics and therapies that will bring health and other benefits to all.

WiT | Executive Award Sponsored by 3W
Barbara Tobin

Queensland Youth Orchestra
Suburb: Stafford Heights

Barbara Tobin has held a range of senior positions in the ICT industry, and has a proven record in the difficult field of sales (including growing the revenue of an IT Distribution Company from $7 million to $38 million in seven years).

While committed to her busy professional career and the demands of her extended family, Barbara has found time to make extensive commitments to the community, including as immediate past-president of WiT and AWISE, and currently as Vice-President of the Queensland Youth Orchestra. She was the founding project manager for the first WiT Board Readiness program, and a driver behind the development of many other WiT ‘products’.

Barbara has been a role model and a mentor for countless men and women in the technology industry. She has contributed to the operations of a number of industry peak bodies, government working groups and voluntary programs and organisations. She has made an enormous contribution to the technology industry both via her work as a successful executive and through these voluntary activities.

Pictures available on request: phone Alice Orozco on 0430 219 091

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Women in Technology

Women in Technology (WiT) is one of Queensland's most respected and active technology industry associations.

Founded in 1997 by just 10 women. The association has now grown to a membership to over 400 women and men. In 2002 Women in Information Technology became Women in Technology; recognising the relationship between IT and emerging fields of science and engineering.

In 2005 WiT launched Women in Biotech and Women in Infotech, separate chapters to cater to the needs of our growing membership. WiT now offers cross-chapter and chapter-specific programs and events to members.

WiT represents the interests of all women working in the technology industries – from students to senior researchers, women working in micro-businesses to multinationals, the public and private sectors, the city and the regions.

WiT runs a range of programs and events including the much lauded Board Readiness Program, which prepares women for roles as Directors on for-profit and not-for-profit Boards.

to arrange photos of the winners or an interview with one of this year’s winners, please contact.

Professional quality photos of all award winners are available on request.

What do the WiT Awards achieve?

• Recognise and reward talented women working in the technology industries.
• Raise awareness of the diversity the technology workforce.
• Promote organisations and companies involved in and supporting WIT, through scholarship sponsorship.
• Encourage young women to pursue a technology career.
• Identify role models for women and men working or aspiring to work in the technology industries.


Alice Orozco
P: 0430 219 091


The eight winners of the 12th annual Women in Technology Awards work in industries as diverse as bone marrow research, enterprise computing and mining. Pictures of the winners are available on request.


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