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An inspiring AFRAN member for diversity in the STEM sector

University of South Australia researcher Dr Melanie MacGregor is a dual French/Australian national and AFRAN member determined to smash the stereotype of scientists as “old white men in lab coats”.

The 34-year-old, who earned her Master of Chemical Engineering in France before moving to Australia in 2008, was recently named a “Superstar of STEM” for her groundbreaking work to help develop a biosensor for the non-invasive diagnostic of bladder cancer.

Dr MacGregor is one of 60 female scientists – and the only French one – officially recognised as inspiring role models to encourage young women and girls to pursue a career in STEM-related fields – science, technology, engineering and maths.

The Santos-UCL Research Fellow at UniSA’s Future Industries Institute is renowned for her work in materials nano-design, building tiny devices using plasma coatings to capture cancer cells, grow stem cells and to help recover oil and gas for the mining sector.

She has led a team of scientists, engineers and doctors in developing a commercial, non-invasive microfluidic device to diagnose bladder cancer and potentially save thousands of lives each year.

Dr MacGregor’s research involves designing surfaces at a minute scale to influence how they interact with their environment – a specialisation that gives us insights into the future of advanced manufacturing.

The quality of her research, innovation and science communication has been recognised through several awards, including the 2016 John A. Brodie Medal from Engineers Australia, the 2017 Winnovation awards in the Engineering category, a 2018 Young Tall Poppy Science Award and the 2013 Ian Wark Medal for best PhD thesis.

She is an enthusiastic ambassador of diversity in the STEM sector, visiting schools to discuss her research and hopefully encourage young French nationals living in Australia to pursue a career in STEM.

Dr MacGregor also collaborates with the University of Nantes and l'ENSCPB.

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