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Professionals boosting STEM education at Meriden

Meriden’s professional STEM partners provide students with opportunities to engage with STEM beyond the boundaries of a traditional classroom setting. Through these partnerships, students have gained a greater appreciation for STEM and invaluable insight on its relevance in everyday life and a glimpse of what a career in STEM might look like.

Meriden is part of the CSIRO STEM Professionals in Schools program, which partners STEM – Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics – professionals and teachers in schools across Australia. STEM skills are beneficial to all, regardless of occupation and interests because of the transferability of related skills such as problem solving, critical thinking and communication.

These professional partners not only provide the students with resources and applications to support their studies, they bring with them contemporary STEM knowledge and support the teachers to develop innovative programs and activities.

Meriden currently has three professional partners:

  • Ms Belinda Zhang, Chemical Biology PhD student and Postgraduate Teaching Fellow at The University of Sydney
  • Dr Emma Harding, Virologist and Post-doctoral Researcher at the University of Oxford
  • Mr Samir Sultani, Economist from Macquarie University and Analyst at the NSW Education Standards Authority.


Ms Belinda Zhang

Belinda joined Meriden as a professional partner in 2023. She is a valuable resource for anything chemistry-related and has been instrumental in supporting Meriden in developing activities that enable our HSC Biology students to undertake cutting-edge DNA analysis.

For her PhD, Belinda is studying targeting chemokines, a protein in the body that controls the movement and positioning of immune cells.

Belinda also has industry experience as a Forensic Chemist, working for the Australian Federal Drug Laboratory, analysing police drug seizures, using techniques including qNMR, gas chromatography, mass spectrometry, chiral electrophoresis and isotope ratio analysis.


Dr Emma Harding

Virologist, Dr Emma Harding is Meriden’s newly matched STEM professional. She has completed her PhD and is a molecular microbiology researcher at the University of New South Wales (UNSW).

Year 12 Biology and Chemistry students recently heard about Emma’s fascinating research in the growing field of viral fossils in the human genome – remnants of ancient viral infections that are present in our DNA.

Emma shared her many discoveries regarding the viromes of Australian marsupials, explained the uses of technologies like CRISPR (a genetic tool), and the role of viral fossils in building the human immune system.


Mr Samir Sultani

Economist, Samir Sultani is assisting Meriden with planning and designing learning activities for Mathematics and statistics. He is an expert in mathematical modelling, analytics and statistics. He has experience in the finance industry and is currently working at the NSW Education Standards Authority.

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