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Dr Mirella Atherton

Casual Lecturer

Centre for English Language and Foundation Studies

Career Summary


Mirella Atherton is a Course Coordinator, Lecturer and Tutor. Mirella began lecturing and researching at the University of Newcastle 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 bioactive compounds, including 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. 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 analogues of Cantharidin in 1994. This developed into the synthesis of specialised bioactive pesticides, drugs and steroids. To improve her teaching methods, Mirella assesses student retention via 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 in a wide range of courses. Mirella is also actively involved in projects that deal with Data Analytics, Vulnerability and Alternative Dispute Resolution in Australia.

Teaching Expertise
Mirella Atherton is a diverse and highly skilled academic who began lecturing in 1998 and has contributed to course development for a wide 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


  • Alternative Dispute Resolution
  • Chemistry
  • Law
  • Life Sciences
  • Organic Chemistry
  • Public Private Partnerships
  • Student Confidence
  • Student Engagement


  • English (Fluent)

Fields of Research

Code Description Percentage
030599 Organic Chemistry not elsewhere classified 20
180199 Law not elsewhere classified 60
130103 Higher Education 20

Professional Experience

UON Appointment

Title Organisation / Department
Casual Lecturer University of Newcastle
Centre for English Language and Foundation Studies



Year Award
2016 Excellence in Teaching and Learning
English Language and Foundation Studies Centre, University of Newcastle
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.

Chapter (2 outputs)

Year Citation Altmetrics Link
2018 Atherton MA, 'Banking and Finance', Australasian Dispute Resolution, Thomson Reuters, Australia (2018)
2017 Vuong QV, Atherton MA, 'Utilisation of bioactive compounds derived from waste in the food industry', Utilisation of Bioactive Compounds from Agricultural and Food Waste, CRC Press, Boca Raton 342-357 (2017) [B1]
Co-authors Vanquan Vuong

Journal article (7 outputs)

Year Citation Altmetrics Link
2017 Atherton MA, Vazquez J, Shah M, Griffiths Z, Jackson B, Burgess C, 'Using learning analytics to assess student engagement and academic outcomes in open access enabling programmes', Open Learning: The Journal of Open, Distance and e-Learning, 32 119-136 (2017) [C1]
DOI 10.1080/02680513.2017.1309646
Citations Scopus - 2Web of Science - 1
Co-authors Mahsood Shah, Catherine Burgess
2017 Atherton MA, 'A comparison of student confidence levels in open access and undergraduate university courses', Issues in Educational Research, 27 1-12 (2017) [C1]
2015 Atherton MA, 'Measuring confidence levels of male and female students in open access enabling courses', Issues in Educational Research, 25 81-98 (2015) [C1]
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 - 73Web of Science - 62
Co-authors Jennette Sakoff, Adam Mccluskey, Stephen Ackland
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 - 46Web of Science - 43
Co-authors Adam Mccluskey, Alistair Sim, Michael Bowyer, Jennette Sakoff
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 - 52Web of Science - 49
Co-authors Alistair Sim, Jennette Sakoff, Adam Mccluskey
Show 4 more journal articles

Dr Mirella Atherton


Casual Lecturer
Centre for English Language and Foundation Studies
Academic Division

Contact Details



Location Ourimbah
10 Chittaway Road
Ourimbah, NSW 2258