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Dr Mirella Atherton

Course Coordinator

Centre for English Language and Foundation Studies

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 intellectually disabled people at police stations and at courts.

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 student confidence in open access and undergraduate programs using "the third person effect". Mirella is actively involved in measuring student engagement in the online and on campus environments. Mirella is currently involved in a project that deals with Public Private Partnerships and banking practices in Australia.

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


  • PhD, University of Newcastle
  • Bachelor of Science, University of Newcastle
  • Bachelor of Science (Honours), University of Newcastle
  • Bachelor of Laws, Macquarie University


  • Chemistry
  • Emerging Torts
  • Law
  • Life Sciences
  • Public Private Partnerships
  • Student Confidence
  • Student Engagement


  • English (Fluent)

Fields of Research

Code Description Percentage
130103 Higher Education 60
030599 Organic Chemistry not elsewhere classified 20
180126 Tort Law 20



Year Award
2015 Best Research Paper
ELFSC Research Committee


Committee Member

Year Title / Rationale
2015 ELFSC Research Committee
Committee has the responsibility of providing oversight on the ELFSC research strategy.
2015 Human Research Ethics Committee
The Human Research Ethics Committee (HREC) operates in accordance with the National Statement on Ethical Conduct in Human Research (NHMRC).


For publications that are currently unpublished or in-press, details are shown in italics.

Journal article (5 outputs)

Year Citation Altmetrics Link
2015 Atherton MA, 'Measuring confidence levels of male and female students in open access enabling courses', Issues in Educational Research, 25 , 81-98 (2015)
2014 Atherton 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]
2002 Sakoff 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]
Citations Scopus - 64Web of Science - 54
Co-authors Stephen Ackland, Jennette Sakoff, Adam Mccluskey
2002 McCluskey 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]
Citations Scopus - 41Web of Science - 38
Co-authors Adam Mccluskey, Michael Bowyer, Jennette Sakoff, Alistair Sim
2000 McCluskey 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]
Citations Scopus - 43Web of Science - 39
Co-authors Jennette Sakoff, Alistair Sim, Adam Mccluskey
Show 2 more journal articles

Dr Mirella Atherton


Course Coordinator
Centre for English Language and Foundation Studies
Academic Division

Casual Lecturer
Centre for English Language and Foundation Studies
Academic Division

Casual Newstep Teacher
Centre for English Language and Foundation Studies
Academic Division

Contact Details



Location Ourimbah
10 Chittaway Road
Ourimbah, NSW 2258