Succeeding in many spheres

Research degree graduates from the Sansom Institute for Health Research have gone on to establish successful careers in a wide range of fields, both in Australia and internationally.

Whether they are working hard in laboratories to find cures to disease, in lecture theatres inspiring a new generation of scientists, or applying their knowledge to any number of occupations in the public and private sectors, our graduates continue to do us proud through their many successes.

This page features a selection of some research degree graduates from the Sansom Institute and its associated schools in UniSA's Division of Health Sciences. If you are a graduate with news to share, please let us know by emailing

For University-wide graduate news and services, see the UniSA alumni website.

Featured graduates

Dr Amy Baker 
Dr Lyndell Bruce 
Dr Tongted Phumoonna Das 
Dr Wendy Hart 
Dr Ben Lewis 
Dr Anthony Lucas 
Dr Natalie Parletta 
Dr Stephanie Reuter-Lange 
Dr Thiru Vanniasinkam 

Dr Natalie Parletta

Research fellow, UniSA
Natlie ParlettaNatalie Parletta has built up an international profile as a leading figure in nutrition and mental health since completing her PhD at UniSA and the CSIRO in 2006.

Currently a research fellow with the Sansom-administered NHMRC Program Grant, Improving Chronic Disease Outcomes for Indigenous Australians, she is known for her applied research examining Omega 3 fatty acids’ effect on children’s cognition, behaviour and mental health.

With a special interest in promoting better nutrition to improve wellbeing in disadvantaged and at-risk populations, Natalie has also published on topics including obesity prevention, parenting styles and children’s diets, and fish oil supplements for older people. 

“I love the people, the flexibility, the independence and the support that I have for my work at the Sansom Institute,” she says.

“Over the past few years the Institute has expanded its profile in areas like public health, population health and nutrition, so it’s been fantastic to collaborate with some truly inspiring researchers in those fields who are all working hard to make a difference.”

Dr Ben Lewis

Programs coordinator, RiAus
PhD graduate, Dr Ben LewisBen Lewis has forged a satisfying career in science communications after completing PhD research which examined a topical treatment for skin cancer.

He currently works as at RiAus, a national non-profit organisation charged with bringing science to the people. A typical week involves anything from setting up an exhibit on the science of chocolate or hosting an event about psychology, to producing an online video bulletin of the week’s top science news.

“Studying at the Sansom Institute and UniSA was great because as well as giving me specialist knowledge in a specific field of study, there were also opportunities to do outreach work. I enjoyed talking to a wide range of people about science and research, and that experience got me interested in science communication.

“The great thing about working at RIAUS is its diversity. As well as contributing to a range of digital materials, I help coordinate live events, in Adelaide and all around Australia, on topics that have ranged from beer to particle theory to supporting early career scientists.”

He says one of the best things about studying at the Sansom was building networks across the spectrum of health science. “I really enjoyed the multidisciplinary environment, and the fact that I got to meet and share ideas with people who were working in a lot of different areas – I’d say it definitely helped get me to where I am today.” 

Find out more about RiAus at

Dr Amy Baker

Research fellow, UniSA/Mental Health in Multicultural Australia
PhD graduate, Dr Amy BakerAmy Baker has built upon her original training in occupational therapy to establish a research career that has seen her examine topics as diverse as mental health, autism and palliative care.

In her current role - a research fellow based at UniSA as part of the federal government’s Mental Health in Multicultural Australia initiative - Amy is helping to improve awareness and support for mental health services for people from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds.

Amy, whose PhD research explored the different types of losses experienced by people as a result of mental illness and how such losses impacted upon human flourishing, says support and flexibility were two of the benefits of undertaking a research degree at UniSA and the Sansom Institute.

“There was a lot of support, not only from my supervisor, Professor Nicholas Procter, but also from across the university.

“I appreciated the amount of freedom offered, that I was encouraged to research something that had been flagged as a key issue for people who experience mental illness and that I saw as important.”

Dr Lyndell Bruce

Exercise science lecturer, RMIT University
Dr Lyndell BruceLyndell Bruce has gone on to a rewarding role as an exercise science lecturer after completing UniSA PhD studies which saw her working with the national netball team at the Australian Institute of Sport.

As the inaugural recipient of a PhD scholarship offered in partnership between UniSA, the AIS and Netball Australia, Lyndell travelled with the Canberra Darters and the Australian Netball Diamonds during her doctoral studies, providing feedback to coaches on skill acquisition and performance analysis.

“It gave me a hands-on job opportunity as well as the PhD, so the experience was invaluable,” she says. “I was based in Canberra but there was a lot of support for me off-campus, including regular phone contact with my supervisor, Annette Raynor.”

Lyndell now works at RMIT’s School of Medical Sciences, where she combines her research interests with teaching undergraduate students. “As well as boosting my skills as a sports scientist and a netball coach, doing the PhD opened the doors to an academic career. I’m now really enjoying my role in educating and encouraging a new generation of exercise scientists.” 

Dr Stephanie Reuter Lange

NHMRC Clinical Research Fellow, UniSA School of Pharmacy and Medical Sciences
Stephanie Reuter LangeThe breadth of experience offered by studying at the Sansom Institute for Health Research gave pharmacokineticist Stephanie Reuter Lange an edge that she says has helped her succeed in both academic and clinical spheres.

She was awarded a prestigious Fulbright Scholarship in 2012 after amassing a wealth of experience over several years combining part-time PhD studies with employment conducting clinical trials. 

Her doctoral research investigated levels of L-carnitine - a naturally occurring compound important to energy production -  in kidney dialysis patients and in people with chronic fatigue syndrome; knowledge gained via the NHMRC-supported study is pointing towards treatments to help alleviate symptoms experienced by renal and CFS patients.    

“A Fulbright Scholarship is generally awarded to well-rounded researchers with a range of experience - it’s not just about getting the highest grades,” Stephanie says.

“I think being part of the Sansom definitely contributed to my success, helping me to broaden my perspective and build networks with scientists from other areas of health that are relevant to my work, such as nutrition.”

Dr Tongted Phumoonna Das

Senior scientist, Alfred Hospital, Melbourne.
After completing her PhD at the Sansom Institute in 2005, Dr Tongted Phumoonna took up a postdoctoral research fellowship at Monash University before being appointed a senior scientist at the Alfred Hospital’s Malignant Haematology and Stem Cell Transplantation Service in Melbourne.

“I have worked in four university laboratories in three different countries and I think UniSA compares extremely favourably. The scientific research facilities are excellent, and the academic and technical staff are friendly, knowledgeable and helpful.

“My PhD work helped secure two patents, and I also got involved as a student representative in the Australian Society for Microbiology, which strengthened my teamwork, decision-making and networking abilities.

“My current role is quite different from my previous studies, but the broad immunology and molecular biology knowledge base I gained at UniSA has allowed me to adapt easily.
“I like the flexible nature of scientific research – it’s exciting and challenging to take and develop an idea into a project that can have a real impact on human or animal health.” 

Dr Thiru Vanniasinkam

Immunology lecturer, Charles Sturt University
Dr Thiru Vanniasinkam’s doctoral research focussed on a DNA vaccine for Rhodococcus equi, a common disease affecting horses. After graduating from UniSA in 2002, Dr Vanniasinkam undertook postdoctoral research at the Wistar Institute in the USA, before accepting a position as an immunology lecturer at Charles Sturt University in NSW. Her current research involves developing novel vaccines for veterinary pathogens.

“The experience I gained as a research student at UniSA helped me establish what’s become an extremely fulfilling career. By the time I’d finished my PhD, I had two international patents, several publications in peer-reviewed journals, and two international conference presentations to my name – factors which helped me go on to win a postdoctoral research position in the United States, and later return to an academic position in Australia.

“I’m now working as an immunology lecturer, which I love because it provides a good balance between teaching and research. I take pleasure in passing on the knowledge I’ve gained, engaging students in the learning process, and fostering what I hope will become their lifelong interest in microbiology and immunology.”

Dr Wendy Hart

Medical scientist
Now working for SA Pathology in the Public Health Unit at the Women’s and Children’s Hospital, Dr Wendy Hart graduated from UniSA with a PhD in Biomedical Science in 2006 and a Master of Applied Science (Biomedical Science) in 2002.

She began working for SA Pathology (formerly the IMVS) in 2006 after completing doctoral research that provided important information on the epidemiology of antibiotic resistance genes in naturally-occurring bacteria.

“I have no reservations in recommending UniSA’s Sansom Institute to prospective research students, because my experience was such a good one.

“My supervisors were fantastic. Professor Mary Barton was a knowledgeable and empathetic teacher who made me feel at home from the start. I always felt that I could go to her and she would have time for me. Dr Michael Heuzenroeder co-supervised, allowing me to carry out practical work at the IMVS, which taught me a lot about public health and lead to the work I’m doing now.
“My job involves an interesting mix of diagnostic and research work. Some of the areas I have been involved in include diagnostic PCR for bacterial antibiotic resistance and identification genes, identification of Shiga toxigenic E. coli, bacterial strain typing, and research and development of new methodologies for the detection of bacterial genes.
“Like every other postgraduate student I have met, there were times when I wondered what I was doing, but now I look back and feel proud of myself and my achievements, and grateful to UniSA for giving me the opportunity.” 

 Dr Anthony Lucas

Vice president of product development, Putney Inc. (USA)
Since completing his PhD at UniSA in 2003, Anthony Lucas has gone on to establish a successful career in medicines development in the United States.

His current position is vice president of product development at US animal health company, Putney Inc. Anthony’s PhD research looked into the interactions of conventional drugs and a group of plant-derived compounds commonly found in diets and used in complementary medicines.

After graduating from UniSA in 2003, he went on to a postdoctoral fellowship at the Higuchi Biosciences Center in Kansas, and then worked  as a senior research scientist at ELANCO Animal Health (part of Eli Lilly and Company) in the US before joining Putney in 2010.

“Completing a research program at UniSA played a vital role in helping me establish an international career in pharmaceutical research and development. My supervisor, Professor Allan Evans, was dedicated, knowledgeable and an excellent role model.

“I’d absolutely recommend the Sansom Institute as a world-class training ground for aspiring research scientists. UniSA gave me the fundamental skills I needed for a successful career: how to critically evaluate a problem, design an experiment analyse the results, and communicate the conclusions to key-stakeholders.” 

Areas of study and research

+ Click to minimise