Women Scholars in Residence

St Mark’s College is privileged to host visiting academics and researchers from around the world. In 2019 we are joined by molecular microbiologist Dr Layla K Mahdi and Indigenous scholar and artist Dr Jessa Rogers Metuamate. These scholars are highly knowledgeable and talented in their fields and are able to provide guidance and support to students with their studies.

Dr Layla K Mahdi BSc (Hons), MSc, PhD, MASM

Dr Mahdi is a teaching and research academic in medical molecular microbiology, who has worked in universities and research centres. Currently Dr Layla Mahdi is a Senior Lecture in Clinical Microbiology in the School of Pharmacy and Medical Science, University of South Australia. She has dual degrees in Molecular Microbiology and Tertiary Teaching and learning Practices. She is passionate about the quality of teaching and research to achieve the impact that will make a visible difference. Her research is focused on molecular analysis of bacterial pathogenesis, vaccine development, and undertaking antimicrobial resistance surveillance and testing new classes of antibiotics.

Following completion of her PhD, Dr Mahdi took up a position as an Assistant Professor with the University of Al-Nahrain Medical College in Iraq, where she combined teaching activities with research in the field of Molecular Microbiology. In 2006 she joined the University of Adelaide after being awarded an Endeavour Postgraduate Fellowship. She worked as a Senior Research Officer at the University of Adelaide (2006-2016) focusing on the pathogenesis and prevention of pneumococcal disease. Then she spent a few years doing research and teaching at the University Southern Queensland. Dr Mahdi receives research grant funding from national and international bodies and is a co-inventor in 3 Patents. She publishes regularly in First Rate Journals, and her papers are highly cited.

Dr Mahdi lived at St Mark’s as a member of the Senior Common Room for nearly ten years commencing in 2006. Upon her return to Adelaide in 2019 to take up a position at the University of South Australia, Layla chose to return to St Mark’s to live as a member of the Senior Common Room and offer tutoring to students studying medical science.  With her family in Iraq, she has said “I have come to think of the College staff and students as part of my extended family due to their warm, helpful and caring nature.  St Mark’s is such a safe and happy environment in which to live so I was very happy to return. Living among such beautiful buildings and grounds at College and being within a close walking distance of the university and city, is an ideal location to reside.”

Dr Jessa Rogers (Metuamate) BCI, BEd (Hons), MEd, PhD, CF

Dr Jessa Rogers (Metuamate) is a Wiradjuri academic, educator, and artist currently working for PriceWaterhouseCoopers Indigenous Consulting. Dr Rogers sits on the Nursing and Midwifery Board of Australia, and the Steering Committee of Future Earth Australia, and recently completed a 3-year term on the National NAIDOC Committee and a year on the ACT Ministerial Advisory Council for Women. Prior to taking on her current role, Dr Rogers served as a member of the Federal Government’s Expert Panel on English Literacy Learning for Indigenous Children (ELLIC).

Dr Rogers is an Honorary Fellow in the National Centre for Indigenous Studies at ANU, a 2019 Churchill Fellow, and in 2017-18 was a Fulbright Scholar based at Harvard University. Her academic work has an interdisciplinary Indigenous studies focus; her PhD (ANU) saw her develop an arts-based Indigenous research method (Photoyarn) which she used to understand boarding school experiences of young Indigenous women in Australia, Aotearoa-New Zealand, and Hawaii. Dr Rogers is recognised as a leading expert on education of Indigenous women and girls.

Dr Rogers was the founding Principal of the Cape York Girl Academy, Australia’s first school for Indigenous teenage mothers and their children, and has been recognised with a number of awards, including the Australian Dreamtime Scholar of the Year in 2017, and National NAIDOC Young Person of the Year in 2010. She has two sons and is married to Areti Metuamate, Dean of St Mark’s College in Adelaide.

“Since moving to St Mark’s with Ari, I have really loved getting to know the students. I lived in college during my PhD at ANU and believe in the power of community living. I have especially enjoyed St Mark’s journey toward Indigenous acknowledgement this year. I loved seeing the Aboriginal flag flying during reconciliation week and have shared many conversations with Indigenous students this year attending the college. I have also enjoyed many conversations with non-Indigenous students at Mark’s who have a keen interest in Indigenous health, land management, education and more. St Mark’s is an awesome community of caring students who have made me feel very welcome and I love being a member of this community.”