2021 recipients

The annual Alumni Awards celebrates the achievements of our alumni and honours their contribution to local, national and global communities.

Alumni Achievement Awards

Dr Lindy Lee (BVArts '82 BVA(Hons) '82 DipVArts '84)
Winner of the Alumni Achievement Award for Cultural Contribution

Growing up in Australia during the time of the white Australia policy has shaped Lindy Lee as an artist and had a profound impact on her sense of self, and cultural identity. Much of her art explores notions of authenticity and selfhood, exploring what it is to be Australian and part of the Chinese Diaspora. As a first-generation Chinese Australian, her practice reflects and explores both Eastern and Western influences. Lindy is one of Australia’s most acclaimed contemporary artists and her work has been exhibited widely nationally and internationally.

Her work is held in most of Australia’s major institutions, including the Australian National Gallery, the Art Gallery of New South Wales, the Art Gallery of Western Australia, the Art Gallery of South Australia as well as numerous corporate and personal collections.

Lindy has also served as a board member of Artspace, the Australian Centre of Photography, President of the Asian Australian Artists Association, Deputy Chair of the Visual Arts and Craft Fund, Australia Council, and trustee of the Art Gallery of New South Wales for nine years. She continues to serve on the Asia link Visual Arts Committee.

More recently Lindy has worked on two major projects that connect with her Chinese heritage: New Century Garden in Chinatown commissioned by the City of Sydney and The Life of Stars, Tinghsin Shanghai, Shanghai, China.

Lindy is a much admired, artist, mentor, and teacher. She has made an extensive contribution to the Australian cultural landscape and continues to develop works that engage with the history of art, cultural authenticity, and personal identity.

Joanne Howarth (BEc '81)
Winner of the Alumni Award for Innovation and Entrepreneurship

As a serial entrepreneur, Joanne Howarth witnessed first-hand through her own business, the devasting impact of EPS (polystyrene) upon our oceans and marine ecosystems and was compelled to find an alternative sustainable solution. Recognising the urgency and the opportunity to solve one of the world’s most intractable problems, Jo set about scouring the globe for a non-plastic solution. Jo embarked upon a journey to mimic nature and leveraged the thermal properties of waste wool to create an ingenious product called WOOLPACK.

Transforming supply chains across the globe, WOOLPACK is used to ship temperature sensitive food, seafood and pharmaceuticals from vaccines, IVF, chemotherapy and cosmeceuticals to meat, dairy, chocolate and artisan foods. At its end of life, it breaks down and returns valuable nutrients back into the soil.

Planet Protector Packaging is in a race to become the market leader in sustainable thermal packaging that does not harm the planet. With three operations across ANZ and vision to expand their footprint into Asia.

Made from ‘waste wool’ unsuitable for the textile industry, Planet Protector Packaging has taken this wool otherwise destined for landfill, diverted it, monetarised it and given it a new life. In so doing, they have increased the yield to sheep farmers, generated new revenue streams ($5.5 million to date) to drought-stricken farmers and saved our oceans from more than 7 million EPS boxes.

Impassioned about her legacy and leaving the world better, Jo is a vocal advocate for Dementia Australia and a community ambassador for the Melanoma Institute Australia, to whom she gratefully credits the fact that she is still here to drive change to a more circular economy.

Patrick Grove (BCom '97)
Winner of the Alumni Award for International Achievement

Living in Asia, North America and Australia provided Patrick Grove with an international perspective and motivation to do business in different parts of the world. Whilst still in college, Patrick dreamed of starting his own business, but his parents did not support this. Patrick agreed to finish university and work for three years to gain professional experience. After graduating, Patrick moved to Asia to start Catcha. As Co-Founder and Group CEO of Catcha Group, Patrick is one of the leading entrepreneurs in the Asia Pacific region.

Between 1999-2021, he took six digital businesses from startup to IPO. These include the iProperty Group – which was acquired by REA Group in 2016 in one of the largest ever acquisitions of a Southeast Asian internet company at the time; iCar Asia, an operator of leading automobile marketplaces in Southeast Asia; and Frontier Digital Ventures, an owner and operator of leading online marketplaces in frontier markets.

Patrick is also the Co-Founder of Rev Asia, a Bursa Malaysia-listed online media and publishing company; Wild Digital, a leading tech conference in Southeast Asia; and Instahome, an online home rentals platform. In February 2021, Catcha Group listed a blank check company, Catcha Investment Corp, of which Patrick is Chairman and CEO, on the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE). The company raised an upsized US$300m in their IPO to target technology businesses in Southeast Asia and Australia.

Patrick has been recognised with numerous international awards, including Global Leader of Tomorrow and New Asian Leader by the World Economic Forum; Young Entrepreneur of the Year by the Australian Chamber of Commerce, Singapore and Asia’s Best Young Entrepreneur by Bloomberg Business.

Professor Wendy Erber (MBBS '81 MD '00)
Winner of the Alumni Award for Professional Achievement

After her medical training at the University of Sydney, Professor Wendy Erber used her Rhodes Scholarship (the first female Rhodes Scholar from NSW) as the beginning of her lifelong study of haematological malignancies. She returned to Sydney to train as a diagnostic laboratory haematologist and has since combined her research and diagnostic skills to assist patient management, advance medical science, teach and train science and medical students, trainee haematologists and the research scientists of the future.

As an authority on blood diseases, Professor Erber is driven to improve the lives and outcomes of patients with haematological malignancies, a group of diseases which currently takes 4,000 Australian lives annually.

After her initial adaptation of the technique of immunohistochemistry for the more precise diagnosis of blood cancers, she has led a team to develop the ground-breaking technique of immuno-flowFISH, an advance allowing the simultaneous identification of specific malignant cells and their genetic abnormalities.

Her work has been recognised by admission to Fellowship of the Australian Academy of Health and Medical Sciences, receipt of the Australian Museum Eureka Prize for Innovative Use of Technology (2018) and winning the Cancer Council WA Researcher of the Year (2015) Prize. Professor Erber has published over 180 journal articles, 4 books and 16 book chapters.

Professor Erber has fond memories of her time at the University of Sydney and believes it gave her the foundations on which she built her career. Combining sport (receiving a Blue in hockey) gave balance to her University life. She is now a world-renowned expert in her field of haematology.

Assistant Professor Garry Huang (BE(CivilPEng) '04)
Winner of the Alumni Award for Service to Humanity

Garry Huang has committed more than 5,500 volunteer hours in his life. He volunteers in Taiwan and Australia – in Taiwan for the New Taipei City Fire Department where he leads 100 volunteers and in Australia for St John Ambulance where he leads 700 volunteers. Gary began volunteering for St John Ambulance Australia in 1998 where he held the the position of the assistant regional superintendent. He also began volunteering for Taipei City Fire Department in 2011. He transferred to New Taipei City Fire Department in 2016 and established its volunteer battalion where the volunteers have worked a combined total of 22,000 hours.

Garry is CEO of the Wangying Foundation. Since its establishment in 2012, the foundation has trained thousands of professionals and volunteers in first aid, emergency and calamity rescue, medical assistance and pre-hospital care. The foundation also offers scholarships in medicine and health education and fundraises for disadvantaged communities.

In 2013, the legislative assembly in Taiwan drafted a law which prevented health care professionals from rendering assistance through an exclusion clause from criminal prosecution and civil litigation. Garry reached out to his professional and personal network to explain the importance of first aid response which helped members of parliament amend the draft legislation.

He was recognised by St John Ambulance Australia with a 15 year service medal in 2013 and became a member of the Order of St John in 2019. Garry is a registered paramedic in Australia and in Taiwan and is also a Ministry of Education appointed Assistant Professor at Taipei Medical University Faculty of Nursing.

Dr Anastasia Volkova (PhD(Research) '19)
Winner of the Outstanding Achievements of Young Alumni Award

Anastasia is a pioneer leading the way to the future of precision agriculture: a future where farmers use the latest in technology to maximise yields while minimising environmental impact. After completing her PhD at the University of Sydney in autonomous drone navigation, Dr Volkova realised that she could use her skills to improve crop yields. She went on to develop software that can spot changes in crops by comparing the satellite pictures of a particular field with a reference set of readings.

Dr Volkova founded FluroSat, a startup that provides technological services to agricultural businesses around the world. The service works by subscription and helps farmers to obtain various data on the state of their crops. FluroSat is accelerated by Telstra’s muru-D and is now monitoring farms using drones and satellites in 5 states in Australia.

FluroSat’s customers include the biggest names in agriculture such as Lamb Weston, supplier of potatoes to much of America, and Syngenta, the largest crop protection company in the world.

Dr Volkova’s work has brought over $8M in investments from leading venture capitalists, and government science organizations, including becoming the first ag-tech investee of Microsoft.

In 2020, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology included Dr Volkova in their list of innovators under 35. In addition to this she has been awarded the Soroptimist International Women Creating Change Award, the Amelia Earhart Fellow award and the Cicada Innovations - Outstanding Founder Award.

Graduate Medals

Yinfeng Shen (BCom '21)
Winner of the Convocation Medal for Undergraduate Leadership

Yinfeng Shen, honoured with the 2020 Pro Vice-Chancellor (Student Life) Outstanding Services Award, stands out for his unwavering commitment to fostering inclusivity and connectivity. His initiatives include leading anti-racism campaigns and offering support during the COVID-19 pandemic. He has held key roles, like Board Director of the USU, and contributed as a peer support advisor and student mentor at the Business School. Yinfeng also served as President of the University of Sydney's Australia-China Youth Association chapter and Vice-President of the University's CEMS Club.

Baoying Tong (BE(Hons) '15 MMgt '20)
Winner of the Edmund Barton Medal for Postgraduate Leadership

Recognising the value of mentorship, Baoying mentors for the SkillMe Project by MetroAssist and the CareerTracker Programme. He actively participates in various industry committees, including CIBSE NSW Young Engineers Committee, Standards Australia Smart Cities Committees and IEC Smart Cities Workgroups, among others. In 2019, he was selected as one of two Australian representatives in the International Electrotechnical Commission Young Professional Programme in Shanghai.

Joseph Bennett (BCom(LibStud) '19 GCDS '19 MDS '21)
Winner of the John C Harsanyi Medal for Innovation

Joseph Bennett co-founded Foster the Future (FTF), a charity that provides university tutors the opportunity to help children in out-of-home care. FTF aims to provide educational support to address high youth unemployment rates. He has helped 40 high school kids in care access individual weekly tutoring for free. FTF won the prestigious University of Sydney campus Hult Prize in 2018 and has s expanded to provide online tutoring to children in out-of-home care in regional areas.

Madii Himbury (BAppSc(Ex&SportSc) '19 MPH '21)
Winner of the Nigel C Barker Medal for Sporting Achievement

Madii represented the University of Sydney at the University of Snow Nationals from 2013 to 2015. She has since competed in the 2018 PyeongChang Winter Olympics achieving 20th place. Madii is a mentor and coach in elite skiing, school skiing and gymnastics. She also volunteers at St Vincent’s Hospital supporting outpatients with pilates-based exercise programs. She is an advocate for mental health awareness and speaks out about her personal struggles with mental illness in sports through the podcast ‘Heart on My Sleeve’. 

Marilena DeMayo (PhD(Research)'20)
Winner of the Rita and John Cornforth Medal for Research Excellence

Dr Marilena DeMayo’s research focuses on improving understanding of autism and interventions. She developed a model to facilitate a greater understanding of the divergent processes in autism, review autism treatments, investigate brain differences in children with autism and designed a world-first clinical trial investigating oxytocin for children with autism. She is an active contributor to the Brain and Mind Centre, chairing the Higher Degree by Research group and being a member of the organising committee of the first Brain and Mind Centre symposium.

Dr. Gary Frederick Fry (PhD(Research) ‘20)
Winner of the Sister Alison Bush Medal

Dr Gary Fry is an Aboriginal man descended from the Dagoman tribe in the Northern Territory. He completed a PhD study of remote Aboriginal education, the first of its kind in the NT and Australia. Dr Fry won the 2018 Australian Association for Research in Education Betty Watts Indigenous Researcher Award while completing his PhD. Dr Fry’s research contributes to a newly theorised understanding of why and how Indigeneity is the foundation for improving remote Aboriginal children’s systemic education performance in the NT. He is now collaborating with a UK-based professor in an international research partnership.