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NHMRC Emerging Leadership Fellow, Flinders University

Dr Yee Lian Chew, ‘the worm lady’, uses the roundworm C. elegans to study how neurochemical signals in the nervous system work together to coordinate complex behaviours. An NHMRC Emerging Leadership Fellow, Yee Lian uses C. elegans – one millimetre long with only 300 neurons, yet 80% genetically identical to humans – to identify neurochemical signalling pathways that can be targeted for treatment of neurological conditions such as chronic pain. An early career academic, Yee Lian earned her BSc (2010) and PhD (2015) from the University of Sydney. In 2015, she moved to Cambridge UK to study worms in colder weather, at the MRC Laboratory of Molecular Biology. She returned to Australia in 2019 as a teaching-research academic at the University of Wollongong and is currently a Mary Overton Senior Research Fellow at Flinders University (supported by the Flinders Foundation).

Outside the joy of experiments, Yee Lian is a budding science communicator. She has given public lectures at National Science Week, run a children’s outreach program at the Cambridge Science Festival, recorded a podcast, and filmed an Elevator Pitch for ABC Science. She is now part of the 2021-2022 cohort of Superstars of STEM, a program run by Science & Technology Australia to promote the profile of women STEM professionals. Currently the Chair of the EMCR Forum Executive supported by the Australian Academy of Science, Yee Lian also aims to promote equity, diversity and inclusion in academia by removing barriers to retention for minoritised groups.


  • –present
    NHMRC Emerging Leadership Fellow, University of Wollongong
  • 2019–2020
    Lecturer, University of Wollongong
  • 2015–2019
    Postdoctoral fellow, MRC Laboratory of Molecular Biology, Cambridge UK
  • 2011–2015
    PhD candidate, University of Sydney


  • 2015 
    University of Sydney, PhD
  • 2010 
    University of Sydney, BSc (Hons) Class I, University Medal

Grants and Contracts

  • 2020
    Rebecca L Cooper Medical Foundation Research Project Grant
    Sole CI
    Funding Source:
    Rebecca L Cooper Medical Foundation
  • 2020
    NHMRC Investigator Grant
    Sole CI
    Funding Source:
    National Health and Medical Research Council

Professional Memberships

  • Australasian Neuroscience Society

Research Areas

  • Animal Neurobiology (060805)
  • Cell Neurochemistry (060105)


NHMRC Emerging Leadership Fellow 2020 (Australia), EMBO Postdoctoral Fellow 2016 (UK), MRC Career Development Fellow 2015 (UK)