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Staff Profile


Career Summary


Mirella Atherton is Course Coordinator, Lecturer and Tutor of Chemistry and Life Sciences for the English Language and Foundation Studies Centre (ELFSC). Mirella began teaching Open Foundation in 1998 while embarking on her PhD. She then left the University of Newcastle to work for the Australian Government  in the National Analytical Reference Laboratory. Mirella gained detailed knowledge of chemical structures while working with a wide range of pesticides, drugs and steroids. Synthesis of narcotic drugs and steroids led Mirella to an interest in the law. She completed her law degree specialising in criminal law and tort law through Macquarie University in 2014. Mirella now teaches in Law and calls on experience as a volunteer for the Criminal Justice Support Network who assist interlectually disabled people at police stations and at courts.


  • PhD, University of Newcastle, 05/03/2004
  • Bachelor of Laws, Macquarie University, 26/09/2014
  • Bachelor of Science, University of Newcastle, 09/05/1997
  • Bachelor of Science (Honours), University of Newcastle, 01/05/1998


Research keywords

  • Educational Malpractice
  • Student Confidence
  • Student Engagement

Research expertise

Mirella Atherton (as Mirella Keane) has research experience in organic chemistry. She began working with the anticancer activity of analogues of Cantharidin in 1994. This developed into the synthesis of specialised pesticides, drugs and steroids. Mirella Atherton's current research involves assessing enabling student confidence in science subjects using "the third person effect". Mirella is actively involved in measuring student engagement in the online and on campus environments. Mirella is currently evaluating the emerging tort of educational malpractice in Australia.


  • English

Fields of Research

130303Education Assessment And Evaluation40
130103Higher Education40
180126Tort Law20


Teaching keywords

  • Chemistry
  • Law
  • Life Sciences

Teaching expertise

Mirella Atherton began teaching in the Open Foundation program in 1998 and has participated in teaching a range of topics and subjects.



For publications that are currently unpublished or in-press, details are shown in italics.

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Journal article (4 outputs)

2014Atherton MA, Bailey A, 'Assessing disadvantaged student confidence in learning: A case of enabling pathway programs.', Journal of Institutional Research (South East Asia), 12 41-53 (2014) [C1]
2002Sakoff J, Ackland S, Baldwin ML, Atherton MA, McCluskey A, 'Anticancer activity and protein phosphatase 1 and 2A inhibition of a new generation of cantharidin analogues', Investigational New Drugs, 20 1-11 (2002) [C1]
2002McCluskey A, Atherton MA, Walkom CC, Bowyer M, Sim A, Young D, Sakoff J, 'The first two cantharidin analogues displaying PP1 selectivity', Bioorganic & Medicinal Chemistry Letters, 12 391-393 (2002) [C1]
2000McCluskey A, Atherton MA, Mudgee L, Sim A, Sakoff JA, Quinn R, 'Anhydride modified cantharidin analogues. Is ring opening important in the inhibition of protein phosphatase 2A?', European Journal of Medicinal Chemistry, 35 957-964 (2000) [C1]
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Grants and Funding

No funding.


Research Supervision

Number of current supervisions0

No Supervisions.


Dr Mirella Atherton

PositionsCourse Coordinator
Centre for English Language and Foundation Studies
Academic Division
The University of Newcastle, Australia
Casual Teacher
Centre for English Language and Foundation Studies
Academic Division
The University of Newcastle, Australia
Casual Teacher
Centre for English Language and Foundation Studies
Academic Division
The University of Newcastle, Australia
10 Chittaway Road
Ourimbah NSW 2258