Dr Kiara Bruggeman


Australian National University

It’s not often you hear someone advocating for getting brains on drugs, but that’s exactly what Dr Kiara Bruggeman is trying to do. She’s a biomedical engineer, researcher, and lecturer at ANU, recently named one of the ABC’s top 5 early career researchers in the sciences (2020), and she’s using nanotechnology to design materials that mimic healthy brain tissue and hiding therapeutic drugs inside them to get to damaged brain tissue after stroke.

Kiara has produced more than 20 publications and presented research talks around the world, in a field called tissue engineering, or regenerative medicine, which focuses on encouraging cells to heal themselves by providing structural support and biochemical guidance. To work, it needs artificial biomaterials that mimic healthy tissue while the new tissue is growing, which requires drawing on physics, chemistry, biology, medicine, and engineering. It’s a very interdisciplinary approach, so she has to know and do a bit of everything. At ANU, she teaches biomaterials, materials engineering, and mechanics. Before starting her position in 2018, she completed a Biomedical Engineering PhD at ANU (2017), as well as two honours degrees in Nanotechnology Engineering (2012) and Chemistry (2013) from The University of Waterloo in her frozen homeland of Canada.

Dr Kiara Bruggeman is a Superstar of STEM.