Mirella Atherton


Mirella Atherton is Course Coordinator, Lecturer and Tutor 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 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, she links student confidence with student progressive and exam marks . Mirella is also currently involved in projects that deal with Public Private Partnerships, Alternative Dispute Resolution 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