Program Directors



Dr Julie Cooke

Program Director

Julie Cooke_Biology program Director

Julie is Assistant Professor of Anatomy & Physiology at the University of Canberra.  She has held a number of academic positions lecturing Anatomy & Physiology, and has 15 years experience teaching at a tertiary level as well as teaching the International Baccalaureate (Biology).

Julie’s research interests are in respiratory disease, particularly the role exercise plays in the maintenance of lung function post pulmonary rehabilitation.  Her work is helping to improve the quality of life of those suffering from COPD (Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease).

Julie has been involved with the Australian Science Olympiad program since 2005.  She is a member of the Thoracic Society of Australia and New Zealand (TSANZ), Australian & New Zealand Society of Respiratory Science (ANZSRS), Australian Lung Foundation and Sports Medicine Australia.




Trent Wallis

Program Director

Trent Wallis_Chemistry Program Director

Trent has a Bachelor of Science (Advanced) with First Class Honours from the University of Sydney. Whilst studying for a PhD in Biochemistry he started teaching Chemistry and Junior Science at Sydney Grammar School. Having changed tack from academia to education he completed a Graduate Diploma of Education at the University of New England.

Trent has been involved with the Australian Science Olympiad program since 1998 when he was a student in the program. He was a tutor, lecturer and deputy director the program from 2000-2015 and became director in 2016.




Curious Minds


Dr Kelsie Dadd

Program Director

Kelsie has a PhD in Geology from Macquarie University and a Graduate Certificate in Higher Education (Teaching and Learning) from University of Technology Sydney.

Kelsie spent 20 years at Macquarie University in the Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences serving as Head of the Department for five years and in the Faculty of Science and Engineering as Associate Dean International and Associate Dean Learning and Teaching.Kelsie’s research interests include the volcanology, geochemistry and tectonics of ancient volcanic and sedimentary rocks in eastern Australia and in the oceans surrounding Australia. She is also involved in similar studies in the Canada and Uruguay. Kelsie has participated in two expeditions with the International Ocean Discovery Program/Integrated Ocean Drilling Program (IODP) – Expedition 323 Bering Sea Paleoceanography and Expedition 349 South China Sea Tectonics.

Kelsie also undertakes research into learning and teaching in the earth sciences. Kelsie won a Macquarie University Outstanding Teacher Award in 1999, was highly commended in the Macquarie University Innovation Awards in 2007 for the teaching and learning project “Tailored Problem Based Learning: an innovative approach to teaching undergraduate science”. She received a Vice Chancellor’s Citation for Excellence in Learning and Teaching in 2013.


Earth & Environmental Science


Greg McNamara

Program Director

Greg has a Bachelor of Science with First Class Honours from Monash University and a research-based Master of Science from James Cook University. While teaching undergraduate Earth Science to both science and education students at JCU Greg became interested in education and completed a Graduate Diploma of Education through JCU while managing the Earth Science department’s collections and facilities and helping CSIRO establish the North Queensland Science Education Centre.

After a two year placement in Broken Hill managing the GeoCentre Interactive Rock and Mineral Museum Greg moved to Canberra to establish and run Geoscience Australia’s Earth Science Education Centre where he ultimately managed the education program before starting a consultancy in Victoria.

Greg has provided quality geoscience education and outreach advice and products to national and international clients including Australian Science Innovations since 2004. In addition to his role as Earth and Environmental Science Olympiad Program Director Greg is also the Executive Officer of the highly successful Teacher Earth Science Education Programme.




Dr Kathryn White

Program Director

Kathryn is a Science teacher in Canberra. She was a bronze medallist at the 1993 International Chemistry Olympiad, and was a staff member for the Australian Chemistry Olympiad for several years following. She has a Bachelor of Science (Honours) and a PhD in Physical Chemistry from the University of Sydney and subsequently worked as a post-doctoral researcher in the School of Physics at the University of Edinburgh

Having made the change from research to education, she achieved national certification as a highly accomplished teacher in 2015. She also teaches as part of the ANU Extension program, and previously acted as Deputy Director of ASI’s Curious Minds program.







Dr Matt Verdon

Program Director

Matt Verdon_Physics Program DirectorMatt has been involved with the Australian Science Olympiads since 2000, when he represented Australia at the International Chemistry Olympiad, before changing to physics and competing at the Asian Physics Olympiad and International Physics Olympiad in 2001. Matt has been part of the Physics program ever since. Matt completed a BSc with Honours and a PhD in theoretical plasma physics at the University of Sydney. He has also completed Master of Teaching at the University of South Australia.


Dr Alix Verdon

Program Director

Alix was first involved with the Australian Science Olympiads in 2001 when she represented Australia at the 2nd Asian Physics Olympiad in Taiwan. Since then she has been involved with the training of students in the physics program. Alix obtained her PhD from the School of Physics at The University of Sydney, and has completed a Master of Teaching at the University of South Australia.