University of Melbourne Magazine

Alumni milestones

  • Awards, honours and achievements

    Professor Anne Kelso AO

    Professor Anne Kelso AO

    Immunologist and virologist Professor Anne Kelso AO has been appointed as the new Chief Executive Officer of the National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC). Professor Kelso (BSc(Hons) 1975), PhD 1980, St Hilda’s College) has had a distinguished career in medical research and an impressive track record in immunology and influenza research.

    Immunologist Professor Ian Frazer AC (MD 1988) has won an international award from the European Patent Office for developing the world’s first cervical cancer vaccine. Professor Frazer, of the University of Queensland, shared the European Inventor Award with his late Chinese colleague, Jian Zhou. The pair developed the Gardasil vaccine, which is now used in 121 countries and has been administered more than 125 million times. 

    Two Melbourne alumni have received Australia’s second highest civilian honour, the Companion of the Order of Australia (AC), in the 2015 Queen’s Birthday Honours. Professor Nathan Efron (BOptom 1976, PhD 1982), one of Australia’s leading optometrists, was recognised for his work in creating two life-changing inventions – daily disposable contact lenses and an eye test that can give early diagnosis of diabetes. Professor Efron, president of the Australian College of Optometry since 2012, is based at the Queensland University of Technology. He is a Type 2 diabetes sufferer who has used his own experiences to influence much of his research into diagnosis and treatment of the condition. The Hon Justice Christopher Maxwell (BA(Hons) 1974, LLB 1983, Trinity College), President of the Victorian Court of Appeal, received his honour for eminent services to the law and the judiciary. Justice Maxwell is best known for leading administrative reform of the Victorian appeals process, helping the Victorian Government to develop jury law reforms that have improved the quality of admissible forensic evidence – a move that has sped up the criminal appeal process. Justice Maxwell was previously president of civil liberties advocacy group Liberty Victoria and commissioner of the Legal Aid Commission (currently known as Victoria Legal Aid). In all, more than 60 Melbourne alumni and staff received Queen’s Birthday Honours. See the full list here

    Academic and author Dr Tony Birch (BA(Hons) 1991, MA(CrWrtg) 2000, PhD 2003) has joined Victoria University as the first recipient of the Dr Bruce McGuiness Indigenous Research Fellowship. The Fellowship is named for one of Victoria’s most respected Aboriginal elders and a long-time activist in the struggle for Aboriginal justice. Dr Birch’s research will explore the implications of climate change on Aboriginal communities, and the value of Aboriginal knowledge of land and the natural environment to inform the wider community. Dr Birch is also a highly respected novelist and author of many books and short stories, including ShadowboxingBlood (shortlisted for the 2012 Miles Franklin Award) and The Promise (shortlisted for the 2014 Victorian Premier’s Literary Award). He was a writer-in-residence at the Wheeler Centre in 2014.

    Allan Myers AO QC has been named the inaugural recipient of the Fellow of the University of Melbourne award in recognition of his community leadership and significant contributions to the University. Mr Myers (BA 1969, LLB(Hons) 1970, LLD 2012, Newman College) is Chairman of Believe – the Campaign for the University of Melbourne

    Dr Helen Durham

    Dr Helen Durham

    Dr Helen Durham (BA 1989, LLB(Hons) 1991, SJD 2000) was one of the inaugural recipients of the Australian Peacewomen Awards, presented by the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom. Dr Durham received the award in recognition of her efforts as Director for International Law and Policy at the Geneva-based International Committee of the Red Cross.

    Eminent professor of neuropsychiatry Christos Pantelis (MB BS 1979, MD 2004) has been awarded an honorary doctorate by the University of Athens. Professor Pantelis is an NHMRC Senior Principal Research Fellow, Foundation Professor of Neuropsychiatry and Scientific Director of the Melbourne Neuropsychiatry Centre at the University of Melbourne and Melbourne Health. He holds an Honorary Professorial Fellow position at the Florey Institute for Neuroscience and Mental Health and heads the Adult Mental Health Rehabilitation Unit at Sunshine Hospital.

    The designers of the Melbourne School of Design building on Parkville campus, John Wardle Architects and NADAAA, have won the United Nations Association of Australia World Environment Day Green Building Award for 2015. It’s the latest in a long line of accolades for the environmentally-friendly building.

    Associate Professor Prudence Francis (BMedSc 1980, MB BS 1983, MD 2008) has won the Medical Oncology Group of Australia-Novartis Oncology Cancer Achievement Award for 2015. The award recognises her contribution to the improvement of cancer control nationally and internationally. Associate Professor Francis is the Head of the Medical Oncology Breast Service at the Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre.

    Matthew Tyler

    Matthew Tyler

    Matthew Tyler (BA, BCom 2006) has been awarded an RG Menzies Scholarship to Harvard, Australia’s most prestigious national award for postgraduate study in the United States. During his Masters in Public Policy at the John F Kennedy School of Government, Matthew will explore how innovative partnerships between the public and private sectors can overcome rising inequality in Australia.

    Andrew Heggie (BDSc 1977, MDSc 1981, MB BS 1991), Associate Professor in the Department of Paediatrics at the University of Melbourne, and Head of the Section of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery at the Royal Children’s Hospital, has been awarded the fellowship ad hom
    inem of the Royal College of Surgeons of Edinburgh. The honour reflects his contribution as surgeon, researcher, educator and mentor to his trainees and colleagues.

    Professor Peter Doherty AC (LLD 2012) tackles climate change, one of the most polarising topics of our time in his latest book. In The Knowledge Wars, the Nobel Prize-winning scientist makes a passionate case for citizens to become informed and evaluate the facts of the climate change debate for themselves. 

    Heather Merrylees (BSc 2014) was selected for the Jim Willis Studentship at the Royal Botanic Gardens Melbourne. The studentship offered Ms Merrylees the opportunity to work on a project capturing pollen diversity in the buckwheat family Polygonaceae, a plant family including around 1200 species.

    Dr Milinda Pathiraja (BArch(Hons) 2001, PhD 2011) won a Bronze award in the 2014 Holcim Awards for Sustainable Construction in the Asia Pacific region. Dr Pathiraja’s project, Post-War Collective, is a community library and social recuperation building near Colombo, Sri Lanka, which aims to reintegrate former soldiers into post-civil-war Sri Lankan society.

    Dr Sam Morgan

    Dr Sam Morgan

    Several alumni received honours from the Australian Veterinary Association (AVA) at the 2015 Pan Pacific Veterinary Conference. Dr David Beggs (BVSc 1990, MVS 1997), Lecturer in Cattle Medicine at the Faculty of Veterinary and Agricultural Sciences, received the President’s Award in recognition of his outstanding practical contribution to veterinary science in Australia. Emeritus Professor Bruce Parry (BVSc 1976, PhD 1982) was made a Fellow of the AVA, the Association’s most senior award for service to the organisation. Professor Parry was a member of the Melbourne Veterinary Science faculty from 1985 to 2011, and has been a member of many committees of the AVA. Dr Sam Morgan (DVM 2014) received the Don Kerr Veterinary Student Award for his strong academic record and his exceptional commitment to cattle medicine. Dr Trish Stewart (BVSc(Hons) 1980, MVS 1987, Janet Clarke Hall) received a meritorious service award for long-term service to the AVA. Dr Stewart teaches veterinary nursing at Box Hill Institute and has previously been a small animal surgical resident and surgical registrar with the University, and president of the Victorian division of the AVA.

    Award-winning director Gary Abrahams (PGradDipPerfCreation 2007, MThPract 2008) created The Lonely Wolf (or an incomplete guide for the unadvanced soul), presented as part of Melbourne Theatre Company’s NEON season in June. The dance-theatre production was inspired by the Herman Hesse novel Steppenwolf and the writings of philosopher and psychoanalyst James Hillman.

    Professor Michael Goddard (BVSc(Hons) 1972, PhD 1979) of the Faculty of Veterinary and Agricultural Sciences has been awarded the prestigious Royal Society Fellowship. Professor Goddard is known for his research into quantitative genetics and the genetic improvement of livestock. The Fellowship of the Royal Society is made up of the most eminent scientists, engineers and technologists in the Commonwealth. Past Fellows and Foreign Members have included Newton, Darwin, Einstein and Hawking. 

    Award-winning director and theatre-maker Peta Hanrahan (PGradDipPerfCreation 2013) has been appointed Artistic Director of actor training centre Verve Studios. Ms Hanrahan was the founder of The Dog Theatre in Footscray. 

    Sofie Laguna

    Sofie Laguna

    Sofie Laguna (DipDramArts (Acting) 1992) has won Australia’s top fiction prize, the Miles Franklin Literary Award, for her novel The Eye of the Sheep. The book is her second novel for adults but she has written 20 children’s books, plays and a screenplay based on her first adult novel, One Foot Wrong. That book was longlisted for the Miles Franklin and shortlisted for the Prime Minister’s Literary Awards in 2009. Previous Miles Franklin winners include alumnae Michelle de Kretser (BA(Hons) 1979) and Dr Anna Funder (BA(Hons) 1988, LLB(Hons) 1991, MA(CrWrtg) 2002).

    Shanghai: Decadence with Chinese Characteristics, an exhibition by Shanghai-based photographer, writer and cinematographer Dave Tacon, was featured in the sixth Ballarat International Foto Biennale. Portrait and photo-documentary work by Mr Tacon (BA(Hons) 2000), is held in the permanent collections of the National Portrait Gallery of Australia, the National Library of Australia, the State Library of Victoria and the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology.

    A notebook filled with drawings by Jo Buckland (BFineArt 2014) was included in The Sketchbook Project, a crowd-sourced art project based at the Brooklyn Art Library in New York. Ms Buckland was one of thousands of artists who contributed sketchbooks to the project, with each being catalogued and added to the library’s shelves. Some of her drawings have now been published in a book on the project, The Sketchbook Project World Tour.

    Alumni Charles Ferrall and Dougal McNeill analyse the literary response to the 1926 General Strike in their new book, Writing the 1926 General Strike. The strike not only drew writers into political action but inspired literature that served to shape 20th century British views of class, culture and politics. Mr Ferrall (BA(Hons) 1983, MA 1986) and Dr McNeill (PhD 2008) both work at the Victoria University of Wellington.

    Elizabeth Debicki

    Elizabeth Debicki

    VCA alumni featured heavily in Macbeth, one of the films selected for competition at the 2015 Cannes Film Festival. It was directed by Justin Kurzel (GDipFT 2004), known for Snowtown and The Turning; cinematography was by Adam Arkapaw (BFT 2006), known for Animal Kingdom, Lore, SnowtownTrue Detective, and Top of the Lake; and it stars Elizabeth Debicki (BDramArt 2011), who appeared in The Great Gatsby, as Lady Macduff. Under the Sun, a film by Qiu Yang (MFT 2014), was selected for the Cinéfondation section, which is for works by film school students. 

    Two exhibitions of the work of artist Richard Lewer (MVisArt 200
    0) have been staged in Auckland, New Zealand. It’s More Than a Game at the Gow Langsford Gallery celebrated Mr Lewer’s love of rugby, while Custom of the Sea at St Paul St Gallery, AUT University, was inspired by the true story of yachtsmen stranded off the coast of Africa.

    Anna O’Byrne (BMusPerf(Hons) 2008) starred as Maria in West Side Story, presented by The Production Company in Melbourne in July. Her performance followed successful lead roles in Love Never Dies and Phantom of the Opera.

    A member of the University of Melbourne Alumni Association Malaysia, Yeo Ling Mien, has been awarded two prestigious scholarships. Miss Yeo (BCom (Hons) 2009) has been awarded the Chevening Scholarship by the British Government, and the Mansion House Scholarship by the Lord Mayor of London. She will use the scholarships to study a Master of Science in Risk Management at the University of Southampton.