Celebrating female researchers for IWD

La Trobe University is home to some amazing female academics in the regions, doing incredible work in their respective fields.

Media are welcome to contact the following La Trobe academics directly for any profiles or interviews to celebrate International Women’s Day.

Associate Professor Leesa Hooker– Violence Against Women

Based at La Trobe’s Bendigo campus


  • Associate Dean of Research and Industry Engagement at La Trobe Rural Health School
  • Principal Research Fellow and Research Stream Lead (Child, Family & Community Health) at Judith Lumley Centre La Trobe University

Associate Professor Leesa Hooker co-led significant research on reducing violence against women and children. The Australian-first pilot study has been shown to help mothers and children who have experienced family violence emotionally reconnect. Read more about the RECOVER project here.

Dr Kerryn Bagley – Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD)

Based at La Trobe’s Bendigo campus


  • Lecturer in Social Work in the La Trobe Rural Health School
  • Researcher at the La Trobe Living with Disability Research Centre

Dr Kerryn Bagley’s research focuses on how health professionals can respond to the needs of people living with Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD). Kerryn is an active contributor to capacity building for FASD services and support, and recipient of the 2020 Australian FASD Centre for Research Excellence National Mid-Career Research Award.

Dr Donna Whelan – Cancer Cell Researcher

Based at La Trobe’s Bendigo campus


  • Bruce Stone Fellow in Chemical Biology based in Bendigo as a part of the La Trobe Institute for Molecular Science

Dr Donna Whelan is a biomedicine and biophysics researcher that draws on various elements of medicine to understand what goes wrong inside our cells to cause illness. Donna is known for building an incredibly powerful, next-generation microscope, that she uses to look at individual molecules inside cancer cells.

Dr Corina Modderman– Social Work Expert (Gender In-equality and Rural Health)

Based at La Trobe’s Shepparton campus


  • Senior Lecturer in Social Work at La Trobe University
  • Chair of the Board of the Centre Against Violence in the Ovens Murray Region

Dr Corina Modderman is passionate about raising awareness of gender inequality and how geographical and social structures influence social values and norms in the rural and regional communities where she lives and works. She is also involved with First Nations led research focused on a better understanding of the unique strengths of Aboriginal youth mentoring programs on Yorta Yorta Country.

Dr Huda Kahwaji ­– Education

Based at La Trobe’s Shepparton campus


  • Lecturer in Pedagogy, Curriculum & Education

Born in Syria, Huda is a passionate educator and researcher, and has worked within educational sectors across Australia and the Middle East. Motivated to continue to learn, and with clear intent to guide and support students from diverse cultures to pursue academic pathways. My interest in pedagogy, English as Second Language, multiliteracies, Early Childhood Education as well as students’ engagement, and inclusive education continues to drive my research focus.

Dr Aleicia Holland – Aquatic Ecologist

Based at La Trobe’s Albury-Wodonga campus


  • Senior Lecturer in Biology at La Trobe University

Dr Aleicia Holland is an award-winning aquatic ecologist/ecotoxicologist. Her research investigates the role of dissolved organic carbon in aquatic ecosystems especially regarding its characterisation, ability to ameliorate toxicity of contaminants to aquatic organisms, and direct influence on aquatic organisms such as fish and microbial communities.

Associate Professor Ing Kong, Engineer

Based at La Trobe’s Bendigo campus


  • Deputy Head of Department of Engineering, La Trobe University
  • Course Coordinator, Industrial Engineering

Associate Professor Ing Kong’s research focuses on the development of advanced materials, such as functional polymer composites, magnetic nanoparticles, carbon nanomaterials and superconductors. Ing and all three of her sisters, have graduated with PhDs in STEM fields. Working in one of the most male-dominated profession in STEM, engineering, Ing is excited to transfer her passion in engineering to young women, helping them realise their potential and ensuring that they are equipped with full range of employability skills needed to thrive as engineers in the 21st century.