Episode 5:

Pivoting from STEM into Law with Dr Celia

About The Guest

Dr Celia Torres-Villanueva graduated cum laude (with honours) with a Bachelor of Science (Philippines), completed her PhD in Biomedical Sciences (US), and became a DNA vaccine scientist. Celia then became a lawyer in the Philippines and Australia.

She is the Board Chairperson of a 139-year-old pharmacy and a Director in other boards. She is a passionate mentor of migrants and in 2023, she won the EY Oceania CEO Social Contributor Leadership Award and was a finalist for the Corporate Legend award from the Australian Professionals of Colour. Her son, two daughters, and husband are all CALD STEM professionals.

Dr. Celia Torres-Villanueva shares her journey in STEM, from her early interest in science to her diverse career path. Growing up in the Philippines, she had the privilege of being encouraged to pursue STEM and attended a specialized science high school. She initially considered a career in law but ultimately decided to pursue molecular biology and biotechnology. She completed her PhD in the US and went on to establish her own research lab in the Philippines, focusing on DNA vaccines. Later, she transitioned into the field of law and became involved in intellectual property and research contracts. 

Key Takeaways

  • Increasing opportunities for culturally diverse women in STEM requires a holistic approach, addressing recruitment, retention, and promotion within organizations.
  • Mentoring is crucial for career development, and Celia encourages women to seek mentors and also become mentors themselves.

 Find out more


  • Read this article outlining ten simple rules for choosing between industry and academia.
  • Here’s a toolkit from Nature on how to transition from academia to industry.
  • Read this review to understand how peer mentoring programs can benefit CALD refugee and migrant women. 
  • Check out the STEM Women resources on mentoring programs.

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