2019 category winner

Dr Meru Sheel

Dr Meru Sheel is a senior research fellow in global health providing sustainable leadership to improve health outcomes for marginalised populations. In 2006, Meru was the University gold medallist and was amongst the top 5 graduates graduating with high distinction. She earned a PhD in 2010 followed by a Master of Philosophy in Applied Epidemiology in 2018, specialising in prevention and control of infectious diseases. During her PhD, Meru was awarded the QUT International Doctoral Scholarship and the Research Capacity Building Award.

With 14 years of cross-disciplinary infectious diseases expertise, Meru has worked in dynamic and complex environments in Australia, Fiji, American Samoa, Dominica, Samoa and Bangladesh. In 2018, she led a team of public health professionals in response to the highly infectious diphtheria outbreak among the Rohingya refugees living in the world’s largest and densest camp with >700,000 people in Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh.

In March 2019, Dr Sheel’s leadership potential in health research was recognised when she was awarded the prestigious Westpac Research Fellowship valued at over AUD500,00 over three years, to design and lead independent research in health security in the Asia-Pacific region.

Meru is a change-maker and strongly advocate for equity and diversity at workplace, encouraging women and young professionals to take up leadership positions. Meru mentors early career researchers nationally and internationally in research methods and empowerment-based leadership for STEMM careers. She regularly engages with the community through media outlets, non-scientific writing and community events to increase awareness on public health issues facing the marginalised populations of the world. Meru’s 2018 article on diphtheria in The Conversation was read by 6500 people worldwide within 72 hours of publication and led to a media release with the ABC News.

2019 CATEGORY winners

Dr Imran Omar Lum

Director, Islamic Finance, NAB

Astrid Haban-Beer

Barrister, Victorian Bar

Dr Meru Sheel

Westpac Research Fellow, ANU

Tim Fung

Co – Founder and Chief Executive officer, Airtasker

Eddie Woo

Mathematics Teacher, Author & Communicator

Khunapong Khunaraksa

Board Member at Gravity Water and Founder/CEO at Khunapong Consulting

Benjamin Law

Writer and broadcaster

Philip Le Liu

Councilor, City of Melbourne

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