A/Prof. Sarah Verdon
Sarah is a speech pathologist, early childhood researcher and mother of three. An Associate Professor in Speech Pathology in the Faculty of Science and Health at Charles Sturt University, her research spans five continents and focuses on embracing the diversity of children from different cultures, languages, geographic areas, socioeconomic backgrounds and levels of ability to create equitable opportunities for all.
Sarah has represented Australia on the World Health Organisation Development Group for Autism Spectrum Disorder, overseen the development of the Speech Pathology Australia national position paper and clinical guidelines for “working in a culturally and linguistically diverse society” and hosts the “Talking Children Podcast”, a podcast designed to support caregivers and educators to give their children the best start to life.
She also runs a rural speech pathology practice to provide much needed services to geographically isolated children with communication needs.
Nation Building Through Animation and Visual Effects
Bernard Higgins is a proud Wiradyuri man who was born in Wagga Wagga and raised in Leeton. Both sides of Bernard’s family are Wiradyuri; his father’s family is originally from the Narrandera and Leeton area, while his mother’s family hails from the Euabalong region.
Bernard combined his two greatest passions, sciences and creative arts, graduating with a Bachelor of Animation and Visual Effects as well as a Bachelor of Science (First Class Honours). Merging these skills with his Wiradyuri culture, strengthened by completing a Graduate Certificate in Wiradyuri Language, Culture, and History, Bernard now creates animations and films in Wiradyuri language.
Classically trained, rock bred, with heavy electronic dance music influences, Cello Riot amalgamates styles to create music for moods. A seasoned professional performer, with over 20 years industry experience, Clare Brassil emerges as Cello Riot in 2015, after many years searching for a convincing partnership between the classical cello discipline that shapes her, and the non-classical electronic, innovative sounds of the music she loves.
Cello Riot started her experimentation with looping through an experiment with Bach's 3rd Cello Suite. She takes each half of each of these exquisite dances, and loops it, adding layer upon layer of harmony and dissonance, to create a sonic landscape. Her loopy Bach is a post-modern homage to 400 years of compositional innovation.
The next steps on her compositional journey are inspired by the learning environment of her secondary school students. As she delves deeper into cognitive process, teaching and learning, emotion and music, and technologies for music-making, she is more and more amazed by power of texture and sound in music that moves us.
Storytelling in Comedy
The undisputed Comedy King of Wagga, Dane Simpson burst onto the scene in 2015 as a national finalist on Deadly Funny. Dane’s stratospheric rise has included bagging spots on Thank God You’re Here, Just for Laughs, Would I Lie To You?, The Melbourne International Comedy Festival Gala, Have You Been Paying Attention?, Wil Anderson's Question Everything, The Hundred with Andy Lee, SBS's Letters & Numbers or showing off cooking skills (or lack thereof) on The Cook-up with Adam Liaw.
Dane has also appeared on the Opening Night Comedy Allstars Supershowand Get Krackin. He produces the monthly Riverina Comedy Club and is a programmer/producer of the Wagga Comedy Festival, as well as being a regular guest on ABC radio with Anna Moulder and Richard Glover’s TGIF show. This year, Dane launched his new stand-up show Always Was Always Will Be…Funny at the Melbourne International Comedy Festival.
Dr Jonathan Ho
Forensic Medical Practitioner
Dr Jonathan Ho is a Forensic Medical Practitioner, and Mental Health Drug & Alcohol GP based in Wagga Wagga. Dr Ho works closely with organisations such as Domestic Violence Advocacy Services, homeless shelters, Mental Health Drug and Alcohol Services, Disability services, Justice Health and Forensic and Medical services.
Dr Ho’s “patient centered care” and “trauma informed” approach has seen him develop a great rapport with patients and health professionals alike, and he has earnt great respect from the indigenous community and the LGBTIQA+ community in Wagga Wagga and the surrounding region, as he focuses on providing an inclusive and safe environment for all.
His dedication to the community was recognized in 2017 when he received the GP Registrar of the Year Award, and then in 2019 he was awarded the NSW Mental Health Commissioners’ Community Champion Award.
Dr Rachel Hogg
Rachel Hogg is a psychology academic whose work focuses on human-animal interaction, social psychology, gender and feminism, mental health, and the psychology of work. Her PhD research examined horse-rider relationships in elite equestrian sport. She now conducts research on animal-assisted therapy, sustainability in farming, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander experiences of mental health services, neurodiversity, social media, and the gendering of mental health diagnoses and systems.
Rachel has contributed to academic and media discourses around wellness culture, sex education and consent, and domestic violence reforms, and is regularly sought after as a researcher and public commentator.
Rachel grew up on a wheat and sheep farm in south-eastern Australia and this upbringing has infused her work, alongside her engagement with literary and performing arts.
Dr Yazdan Mansourian
Human Information Behaviour
Yazdan Mansourian is a senior lecturer in the School of Information and Communication Studies at Charles Sturt University. He received his PhD in Information Science from the University of Sheffield in 2006.
Since then, his research interests have been shaped around the cognitive and affective aspects of Human Information Behaviour (HIB) in different contexts. Since 2017 he has focused on HIB in the context of Serious Leisure. In this ongoing research program, he explores the role of joy and other positive emotions in engaging people with hobbies, amateurism and voluntary activities and how joyful experiences inspire them to seek, share and use information. He also investigates to what extent people's engagement in joyful information activities can contribute to their overall wellbeing.
AgriTech Research and Innovation
Jonathan Medway is the Director of the Global Digital Farm initiative at Charles Sturt University with more than 35 years experience working to improve agricultural management systems.
Understanding the capability and application of digital technologies for cropping, livestock and intensive industries is the central focus of his research and consultancy activity. At CSU Jonathan is building the University’s digital agriculture program, working closely with technology developers and suppliers to meet the challenges of building technological capability and its appropriate application as well as driving industry adoption.
Jonathan has completed more than 2,200 projects across Australia and internationally providing a range of data and digital technology based services to over 1,200 clients representing individual private and corporate businesses, retail service and consultancy providers and advisers, government agencies, research institutions and large corporate organisations.
Prof. Shokoofeh Shamsi
Prof. Shamsi leads the parasitology teaching and research team at Charles Sturt University in Wagga. She has qualifications in veterinary and medical sciences, and skills in conventional morphological and molecular parasite identification and diagnostic methods.
She is a taxonomist with a huge interest in identifying species, who goes beyond taxonomy to understand parasitism, parasites transmission through food webs, behavioural changes due to parasitic infections, food safety, biosecurity, and how parasites population changes in response to anthropological and environmental factors, in various ecosystems.
Throughout her career, Prof. Shamsi has made significant contributions, including the discovery of over 40 new species. She serves as a board director on Australia's Food Safety Information Council, and as a board member on the World Federation of Parasitology. She is also a Senior Editor at leading journals such as Parasitology Research and Current Clinical Microbiology Reports.
That Geraldine Chick
That Geraldine Chick writes songs from the heart and tells great stories. She is brutally honest and refreshingly direct about the challenges of love life and politics.
Her weapon of choice? The bass.