UoN Alumni Awards Achievers in 2019

Filed under Education, News ~ by Press on  11 Jul 2019

The University of Newcastle announced its 25 achievers for the 2019 Alumni Awards.

One of the achievers will be named as the overall recipient of the Alumni Medal at the Gala Breakfast on Thursday 5 September in the University’s Great Hall.

This year more than 120 nominations were received across the nine categories.

The overall recipient of the University’s original award, the Newton-John Award for innovation and creativity in arts and culture, will also be named at the gala breakfast.

The University’s Vice-Chancellor Professor Alex Zelinsky, AO, said the calibre of the nominations was exceptional.

The University is built on the success of our alumni and it’s a great triumph to see our people demonstrate exceptional leadership across the globe,” he said.

These awards celebrate the limitless innovation of our alumni and what they have achieved so far in their respective careers.”

Steven McArthur, Liesl Tesch MP and Dr Ruth Lopert have been named as ‘achievers’ for the Alumni Medal for Professional Excellence, the highest honour of the University of Newcastle’s Alumni Awards.

All three have been recognised for their excellence in leadership, knowledge and professional practice in their respective fields.

Steven McArthur is the Scientific Director at Genea and has made a major impact in the world of fertility.

His innovations have contributed to the doubling of successful IVF procedures since the 1990s.

Mr McArthur said the practical and hands-on nature of the science program at the University equipped him well to participate and lead in the treatment of fertility globally.

It challenged me to develop critical thinking and problem solving skills but also gave me the confidence to push boundaries and always consider a better way,” Mr McArthur said.

He said this led directly to the world-first publication and practical implementation of Day 5 Blastocyst biopsy of human embryos, which revolutionised pre-implantation genetic diagnosis supporting couples from around the world to fulfil their dream of having a healthy baby.

Proud Gamilaroi man Luke Pearson is one of three named as an Indigenous Alumni Award achiever.

Mr Pearson graduated with a Bachelor of Teaching and a Bachelor of Arts in 2004.

Mr Pearson is a teacher, public speaker, and trainer and Founder of @IndigenousX, which uses social platforms to renegotiate the representation of Indigenous voices in the media.

His platform, @IndigenousX, is a rotating Twitter account that has given a voice to more than 300 Indigenous hosts to its 48,000 followers.

Mr Pearson said his student life at Newcastle helped shape his career. 

I was involved in student politics and university gave me my first experience of being involved with structured activism,” Mr Pearson said.

I’ve used my core teaching skills to educate people on how mainstream media and institutions filter our stories.

University taught me the importance of standing up and speaking the truth.”

The University’s Director of Advancement, Rebecca Hazell, said this year’s Alumni Awards Achievers were pushing the boundaries of excellence.

They are each outstanding in their own right but, when we bring them together, it is a powerful reminder of the great impact our University is making across the globe,” she said.

Tickets to the 5 September Gala Breakfast at the Great Hall are available now from here.

University of Newcastle’s 2019 Alumni Awards Achievers full list

Alumni Medal for Professional Excellence

Dr Ruth Lopert – Consultant, LWC Health. M Medical Science (Clinical Epidemiology) 2001; B Medicine 1995. Dr Ruth Lopert is a public health physician and independent consultant in global health, pharmaceutical policy and health technology assessment.

Steven McArthur – Scientific Director, Genea. B Science 1993. As the Scientific Director at Genea, he has made a major impact in the world of fertility. His innovations have contributed to the doubling of successful IVF procedures since the 1990s.

Liesl Tesch – Member for Gosford, NSW Legislative Assembly. Grad Dip Education 1996; B Science 1991. Liesl Tesh AM is a Member of Parliament, Paralympian and Australian sporting ambassador.

Newton-John Award: for innovation and creativity in arts, creative sectors and culture

Gavin Langley – Senior Associate at Gehry Partners, B Architecture 1992; B Architecture Design 1988. Gavin Langley is a seasoned architect who has worked across the world, bringing the elements of design and sustainability to everything he has accomplished in the past 30 years.

Rosemarie Milsom – Director, Newcastle Writer’s Festival. Grad Dip Education 1995; B Arts 1994. In 2012, Rosemarie Milsom, who was then working as a full-time journalist at the Newcastle Herald created and launched the inaugural Newcastle Writers Festival, the largest cultural event in the Hunter.

Nick Mitzevich – Director, National Gallery of Australia. Grad Dip Education 1995; Grad Dip Art 1993; B Visual Arts 1992. As Australia’s leading arts curator, Nick Mitzevich has made major contributions to Australia’s cultural life.

Beryl Nashar Young Researcher Award

Dr Serene Yoong – ARC DECRA Fellow, University of Newcastle. PhD Behavioural Science 2014; B Nutrition & Dietetics 2009. Dr Serene Yoong is an award winning scientist who has developed an outstanding research track record and established a national and international reputation as an expert implementation scientist in the field of non-communicable disease prevention.

Dr Georgina Ramsey – Assistant Professor, University of Delaware. PhD Sociology & Anthropology 2016; B Science Hons 2011. Dr Georgina Ramsay’s work and research has had significant global impact and has emerged as a leading critical voice regarding current issues of displacement, humanitarianism, and the global refugee regime.

Dr Emma Beckett – Nutritionist Researcher, University of Newcastle. PhD Food Science 2016; M Science Mgt 2011; Grad Dip Clinical Epidemiology 2010; B Biomedical Science Hons 2007. Dr Emma Beckett is a National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) Early Career Fellow at The University of Newcastle. Her research area is in the field of molecular nutrition focusing on gene-nutrient-environment interactions.

International Leadership

Sherrill Whittington – Senior Consultant, UNDP/LEAP IPU. Dip Education 1970; B Arts 1969. Sherrill Whittington is an expert with more than 25 years of international experience in women’s leadership and governance, particularly in post-conflict and developing environments.

Dr Isiye Ndombi – Consultant, the Resina Group. MBA 2009. Dr Isiye Ndombi is an internationally-recognised health development and social policy expert; a leader with more than 25 years of international work in 20-plus countries.

National Leadership

Tandin Wangmo – CEO / Executive Director, RENEW. M Educational Studies 2010; Grad Cert Educational Studies 2010. Tandin Wangmo is CEO of the Bhutanese non-profit RENEW – Respect, Educate, Nurture, Empower Women – which works with families affected by domestic and gender-based violence (DV/GBV) and is the only Civil Society of its kind in Bhutan.

Noni Purnomo – CEO, Blue Bird Group. B Engineering 1995. Noni Sri Ayati Purnomo is a highly-recognised business leader and philanthropist in Indonesia. She is the President and CEO of the family-owned Blue Bird Group Holding, the largest taxi company in Indonesia.

Dr Eileen Doyle – Company Director, Board Member, various. PhD Mathematics 1986; M Mathematics 1980; B Mathematics 1977. With an exceptional career spanning more than three decades, Dr Eileen Doyle has led large corporations in executive roles, several Non-Executive Director roles and as Chairperson.

Regional Leadership

Dr Kirsten Molloy – CEO, HVCCC. PhD Chemistry 1998; B Science Hons 1993. As CEO of the Hunter Valley Coal Chain Coordinator, Kirsten Molloy leads the coordination of a globally-significant supply chain for a $23 billion industry.

Graeme Irwin – Principal, St Philip Christian College. Dip Teaching 1982. Graeme Irwin has been a pioneer, developer and a leader in quality and affordable education in the Hunter region for more than thirty years and has responsibility for more than 4000 students and 600 staff across six schools throughout the region.

Indigenous Alumni Award

Dr James Charles – Associate Professor, Deakin University. PhD 2017. As a proud Kaurna man from the Adelaide Plains, Dr James Charles is leading the way in the world of podiatry and Indigenous health.

Dr Mark Wenitong – Public Health Medical Advisor, Apunipima Cape York Health Council. B Medicine 1994. As one of the first Indigenous medicine graduates in Australia in 1994, Dr Mark Wenitong completed his medical studies as a mature-age student and proceeded to join World Vision and work in Central Australia where he encountered some of the harshest health challenges.

Luke Pearson – Director of IndigenousX. B Teaching 2004, B Arts 2004. Luke Pearson is a Gamilaroi man, teacher, public speaker, and trainer and Founder of @IndigenousX, which uses the alternative media space and unique characteristics of the Internet to renegotiate the representation of Indigenous voices.

Exceptional Community Service

Philip Sketchley – Music Educator. B Education 1988. Philip Sketchley has been an integral part of the Hunter region’s music community with more than 50 years of service as a teacher, pianist, fundraiser, conductor, accompanist and musical director.

Lee Shearer APM – Managing Director, Lee Shearer & Associates. UON Open Foundation Student. As an exceptional leader across sectors, Lee Shearer’s work has greatly impacted our region in her various roles, delivering strong tangible outcomes for communities.

Renee Bianchi – Barrister, 13th Floor St James Hall Chambers. B Law 2007, Dip Legal Practice 2007; B Biomedical Science Hons 2004. Renée Bianchi’s exemplary record of voluntary community service within and outside the legal profession has enhanced the reputation of the University through volunteering, mentorship and leadership for both the law profession and for the greater community.

Young Alumni Award

Brendan Swansborough – Group Account Director, Enigma. B Business 2008; B Economics 2008. Led two Super Bowl advertising campaigns.

Jessie Porteus – Founding Director, The Learned Crew. B Law 2011, Dip Legal Practice 2011; B Economics 2009. Jessie Porteus launched an innovative legal training business, writes a successful legal blog and is the in-house legal counsel at an ASX top 100 listed company.

Dr Vivak (Bhavi) Ravindran – Junior Medical Officer (Doctor). B Medicine 2018; B Medical Science Hons 2017. Dr Ravindran was the convenor of the 2016 Global Health Conference, which attracted more than 850 medical students to Newcastle and injected more than $1 million into the local economy.



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