University of Melbourne Magazine

Alumni Milestones

  •  Awards, honours and achievements


    Kate Jenkins (BA(Hons), LLB(Hons) 1991, Ormond College)

    Kate Jenkins (BA(Hons), LLB(Hons) 1991, Ormond College) has been named Australia’s Sex Discrimination Commissioner. Ms Jenkins, a lawyer of 20 years’ experience, was formerly the Victorian Equal Opportunity and Human Rights Commissioner. Announcing the appointment, Attorney-General George Brandis noted Ms Jenkins’ “outstanding record in advancing gender equality and as a human rights leader more broadly”

    Allan Myers QC, Chairman of Believe – the Campaign for the University of Melbourne, and his wife Maria Myers were among many Melbourne alumni recognised in the 2016 Australia Day Honours. Mr Myers (BA 1969, LLB(Hons) 1970, LLD 2012, Newman College) and Mrs Myers (BA 1971, GDip(Social Studies) 1972, LLB 1990, St Mary’s College) each received the Companion of the Order of Australia for their eminent service to the community. For a full list of Australia Day honours awarded to alumni visit


    Allan Myers QC

    Dr Richard Pestell (PhD 1991, MD 1997 Queen’s College) has been awarded the Eric Susman Prize for 2015, for work published over the last two years in the field of critical care medicine research and clinical care. The Prize is awarded annually to a Fellow of the Royal Australasian College of Physicians for the best contribution to knowledge of any branch of internal medicine. Dr Pestell’s contribution included 39 peer-reviewed papers, contributing to the understanding of the molecular mechanisms governing hormone responsive cancer. Dr Pestell is currently an oncologist and professor at the Thomas Jefferson University Hospital, Sidney Kimmel Cancer Center in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. He served as the Center’s director from 2005 to 2015.


    Dr Misty Jenkins (BSc(Hons) 2001, PhD 2007)

    Dr Misty Jenkins (BSc(Hons) 2001, PhD 2007) has been awarded the 2015 Tall Poppy Science Award, which recognises the brightest young researcher in Victoria. Dr Jenkins is a senior research officer and cellular immunologist at Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre where she is investigating cancer and inflammation. The Tall Poppy Awards are run by the Australian Institute of Policy and Science (AIPS) to honour up-and-coming scientists who combine world-class research with a passionate commitment to communicating science. Dr Jenkins is active in promoting science and education among young Indigenous students.


    Miles Allinson (BCA 2003)

    Miles Allinson (BCA 2003) won the People’s Choice award in the Victorian Premier’s Literary Awards 2016 with his first novel Fever of Animals. The book, which was also shortlisted in the Award for Fiction category, won the 2014 Victorian Premier’s Unpublished Manuscript Award.

    Gary Waugh (DipForSc 1966, BScFor(Hons) 1972) has been presented with the Chinese Friendship Award in recognition of his involvement with universities in China, spanning more than 25 years. Mr Waugh has trained and supervised postgraduate students and worked with the Chinese Academy of Forestry on the development, collaboration and supervision of research projects and in the training of research scientists. He was the convenor of the International Union of Forestry Research Organisation eucalypt working group, which involved 34 countries from 1995 to 2007.

    Yeo Ling Mien (BCom(Hons) 2009) has been awarded two prestigious scholarships – the Chevening Scholarship, presented by the British Government, and the Mansion House Scholarship bestowed by the Lord Mayor of London. She will use them to undertake a Master of Science in Risk Management at the University of Southampton.

    Sam Birrell (BAppSc(Agr) 2002) is the new Chief Executive Officer of the Committee for Greater Shepparton. The Committee works with the government, business and community to drive the development of the Shepparton region.

    Nadeeka Wawegama (PhD 2013) received the 2016 Science and Innovation Award (Dairy) for Young Scientists in Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry, awarded by the Department of Agriculture and Water Resources. The award was in recognition of the diagnostic tool she developed during her PhD to detect animals infected with mycoplasmas, a kind of bacteria. Ms Wawenga is a postdoctoral research fellow in the University of Melbourne’s Faculty of Veterinary and Agricultural Sciences.


    Professor Perry Bartlett FAA (BDSc 1969, PhD 1974)

    Neuroscientist Professor Perry Bartlett FAA (BDSc 1969, PhD 1974) received the CSL Florey Medal for his breakthrough discoveries, including finding that the adult brain could change and its neurons could regenerate. Professor Bartlett is founding director of the University of Queensland’s Queensland Brain Institute. The medal, awarded every two years, has only been presented to 10 scientists since its inception in 1998.

    Siobhan Sweeney (LLM 2008) won the Cambridge-McKinsey Risk Prize 2015 for her research paper recommending the appointment of one ‘Contrarian Director’ – inspired by the concept of the Devil’s Advocate – to every public company board, to protect and encourage independent thinking and questioning by senior management. It was produced during Ms Sweeney’s MBA studies at Cambridge Judge Business School.


    Jayde Lovell (BASc 2007, MA 2013)

    Jayde Lovell (BASc 2007, MA 2013) won the The Next MacGyver screenwriting competition, an initiative to encourage more women to enter the field of engineering. Ms Lovell’s idea for a television show focussed on a female engineer was handpicked from almost 2000 entries. The judging panel of Hollywood heavyweights included Ugly Betty actress America Ferrera and Anthony E Zuiker, creator of the CSI franchise.

    Patrick Walta (BE(ChemEng)(Hons), BSc 2005), Executive Director of Carbine Resources, was named Young Achiever of the Year in the 2015 Australian Mining Prospect Awards. Mr Walta has been instrumental in driving plans to restart operations at Mount Morgan, which has the potential to become one of the lowest cost and most environmentally focussed gold producers in Australia.

    The Burning Elephant is the new novel by Christopher Raja (BA(Hons) 1996, GDipEd 2001, PGDipEdSt 2004). The book tells the story of a young Indian boy and his family at the time of Indira Gandhi’s assassination.


    Professor Barney Glover (BSc(Hons) 1980, MSc 1982, GDipEd 1982, PhD 1993, Whitley College)

    Several Melbourne alumni were named in The Australian’s list of 30 most influential people in higher education, including Professor Barney Glover (BSc(Hons) 1980, MSc 1982, GDipEd 1982, PhD 1993, Whitley College), Vice-Chancellor of the University of Western Sydney; Professor Anne Kelso AO (BSc(Hons) 1975, PhD 1980, St Hilda’s College), CEO of the National Health and Medical Research Council; Senator The Hon Kim Carr (BA(Hons) 1977, GDipEd 1978, MA 1984), Shadow Minister for Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Industry; and, pictured, Professor Gregory Craven (BA 1979, LLB(Hons) 1980, LLM 1984), Vice-Chancellor of the Australian Catholic University. The list was headed by University of Melbourne Vice-Chancellor Glyn Davis AC.

    UK-based alumnus Professor Ian Scott (LLB 1963, Queen’s College) has been appointed Honorary Queen’s Counsel in recognition of his contribution to the English and Welsh legal system through writing, lecturing and Government committee work, particularly his work editing the Civil Procedure Rules.

    Dr Jane Elith (BAgr(Hons) 1977, PhD 2002) received the 2015 Frank Fenner Prize for Life Scientist of the Year, one of the annual Prime Minister’s Prizes for Science. The award recognises Dr Elith’s contributions to environmental management worldwide. She is an Australian Research Council Future Fellow in the School of Biosciences at the University of Melbourne and a member of the Centre of Excellence for Biosecurity Risk Analysis.


    Dr Jane Elith (BAgr(Hons) 1977, PhD 2002)


    Associate Professor Warwick Frost (BCom 1980, BA(Hons) 1986) and Dr Jennifer Laing (LLB(Hons) 1988) consider the myth of the American West in their new book, Imagining the American West Through Film and Tourism. They explore how this constructed imagination of the American West is full of contradictions. The authors both work in the College of Arts, Social Sciences and Commerce at La Trobe University.

    37b-(1)Honourable Healers: Pioneering Women Doctors is the new book by retired paediatrician Dr Merrilyn Murnane AM (MB BS 1960, GradDipHealth&MedLaw 1998, GDipArts 2004, PGDipArts 2010, Ormond College). It tells the stories of the first registered woman doctor in modern times (Elizabeth Blackwell, registered in the USA); the first in the UK (Elizabeth Garrett Anderson) and the first in Australia (Constance Stone). It also discusses the founders of the Queen Victoria Hospital, several of whom were University of Melbourne Medical School alumnae.

    Allan Cameron (BAgrSc 1994, International House) has been appointed regional manager of GippsDairy, a not-for-profit organisation which aims to improve the profitability and sustainability of Gippsland’s dairy farms.

    Nobel Prize-winning scientist Professor Elizabeth Blackburn AC (BSc(Hons) 1970, MSc 1972, Janet Clarke Hall) is the new President of the Salk Institute for Biological Studies in California, USA. She joins from the University of California San Francisco, where she was the Morris Herzstein Professor of Biology and Physiology. She was one of three co-winners of the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine in 2009 for her work on telomeres, the ends of chromosomes that serve as protective caps essential for preserving genetic information.

    37e-(1)In Brazil is the first book by travel writer Fran Bryson (BA(Hons) 1992). Ms Bryson, a former literary agent, spent a total of 18 months exploring the South American country before producing the book.

    Sexuality in Adolescence: The Digital Generation is the new book by Professor Meredith Temple-Smith (GDipMvmt&Dance 1985), Professor Susan Moore (BSc(Hons) 1967, GDipEd 1969, MEd 1975) and Professor Emeritus Doreen Rosenthal AO (BA(Hons) 1971, PhD 1975). It reviews research and theory about adolescent sexuality today.


    Simon McKeon AO (BCom 1976, LLB 1978)

    Social entrepreneur and businessman Simon McKeon AO (BCom 1976, LLB 1978) has been appointed Chancellor of Monash University. Mr McKeon is a former investment banker and was 2011 Australian of the Year.

    The University has celebrated the achievements of alumna and Aboriginal advocate Dr Margaret Williams-Weir (GDipPhysicalEd 1972, University College) with the naming of a prestigious fellowship and a valued student space in her honour. Dr Williams-Weir was the first recorded Aboriginal graduate of an Australian university, completing her course in 1959, and a significant contributor to the development of Aboriginal education policy. Her association with the University was recognised through the naming of the Dr Margaret Williams-Weir Lounge in the Melbourne Graduate School of Education, and the Dr Margaret Williams-Weir Vice-Chancellor’s Fellowship, of which Noel Pearson is the inaugural recipient. Dr Margaret Williams-Weir died in October 2015.


    Dr Margaret Williams-Weir (GDipPhysicalEd 1972, University College)

    Several alumni, all career officers with the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, have been appointed to senior government roles overseas.

    John Pilbeam has been appointed Australia’s High Commissioner to Trinidad and Tobago, and Australian Ambassador to the Caribbean Community. Until recently Mr Pilbeam (BCom(Hons) 1974, Whitley College) was Director of the Korean Peninsula and Mongolia Section. He has previously served overseas as High Commissioner to Vanuatu and Deputy Consul-General in Hong Kong, with earlier postings in Seoul, New York, Port Moresby and Jamaica.

    Amanda Gorely (BA 1987, LLB(Hons) 1989) has been appointed Ambassador to the Philippines. She was formerly Corporate Counsel and head of DFAT’s Corporate Legal Branch and has served as Deputy High Commissioner at the Australian High Commission in Wellington and Deputy Permanent Representative to the United Nations in Geneva, with earlier postings in Stockholm and Copenhagen. She has also served in Canberra as Assistant Secretary, WTO Trade Law Branch; Director, International Law Section; and Director, Human Rights and Indigenous Issues Section.

    Bryce Hutchesson (BCom 1981, LLB 1983) is Australia’s new High Commissioner to Sri Lanka. Mr Hutchesson was formerly acting First Assistant Secretary of the South and West Asia Division and has served as Deputy High Commissioner in New Delhi, with earlier postings in Bangkok and Tel Aviv. He has also served in Washington with the Office of National Assessments, and in Canberra leading DFAT’s South Asia Branch, Executive, Planning and Evaluation Branch and several branches responsible for international security