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Alumni Spotlight

From campus to career
With over 430,000 University of Sydney graduates and counting, our alumni are making their mark across the world. Discover the incredible journeys our alumni have embarked on since tossing their graduation caps high, ranging from groundbreaking discoveries to creative pursuits.

Share your story since graduating for a chance to be spotlighted.

Dr Tony Schiemer

MBBS ’13, MIntPH ’14

Tony’s aviation career began in an unusual way. Starting as an engineer in the navy, he made the change to medicine following graduation. His career accelerated after completing medical school when he started work as an Australian Defence Force aviation doctor and gained his commercial pilot licence in his spare time. Since then, he has moved around Australia to further this side of his career and spent time as a charter pilot across Australia. He still trains and coaches aspiring pilots and works remotely in medical research for the Royal Australian Air Force.


Peta Williams

BMu ’79

Peta’s Bachelor of Music kickstarted her advantageous 40-year career contributing to arts management for Musica Viva Australia and Sydney Philharmonia Choirs, and in arts funding for the NSW Ministry for the Arts and the Australia Council for the Arts. She transitioned to a career in music therapy and then the community services sector at Nordoff-Robbins Music Therapy, the Lower Mountains Neighbourhood Centre and Belong Blue Mountains. She has now set up her own management consulting firm - a lifeline for managers in the arts and community sectors.


Ashley Kalagian Blunt

MCS ’12

Ashley is an author, globetrotter, award-winning speaker, moderator and creative writing tutor. After moving from her snowy Canadian home to Sydney, she completed a Master of Cultural Studies and began teaching creative writing courses. Her debut book, My Name is Revenge, was shortlisted for the 2019 Woollahra Digital Literary Awards and was a finalist in the 2018 Carmel Bird Digital Literary Awards. Ashley has recently released her third book, Dark Mode, a psychological thriller exploring the reality of the dark web.


Sally Colgan

BVSc ’90, Grad Dip Vet Clin Stud ’92

With a career spanning three continents, Sally started out in equine practice, becoming a Diplomate of the American College of Veterinary Surgeons and specialising in equine surgery, before moving her focus to research. In 2002, she established a contract veterinary research company. She was a director, then CEO, of Vets Beyond Borders, a veterinary charity focusing on supporting animal welfare and public health programs around the world. Sally is a director of the Australian Veterinary Association and a member of several animal ethics committees.


Simon Liu

BCom, LLB ’22

Even before Simon graduated, he was already travelling the world to provide on-the-ground humanitarian assistance. He first flew to Iraq, where he began challenging his own preconceived notions and helping those living in devastation. His final leg in Syria convinced him he needed to support the vulnerable and encouraged him to apply for a job at the United Nations, where he improved the efficacy of humanitarian responses. Soon after he developed Building Memorii, a website that publishes his insider perspective on current world issues.


Christopher Noel

BEc ’71 

Christopher played an integral part in evolving the University’s sports industry. He joined the University Boat Club in 1968 and rowed his way to club president. He played a key role in transforming Sydney University Sport and Fitness into a leading university sports body. He also transformed the Boat Club into one of the most successful programs in the country. Christopher has been recognised for his contribution with an Honorary Fellowship of the University, an Order of Australia Medal, and Honorary Life Membership of Sydney Uni Sport and Fitness and Rowing.


Rebecca Mattison
PhD(Science) ’20

Mattison graduated with a PhD during the 2020 lockdown, and returned to her home town, Perth, to work in analytical chemistry laboratories. Soon after, she received an exclusive two-year postdoctoral position at pharmaceutical and life sciences company Bayer, and relocated to Germany. In a collaboration with the Australian Grains Research and Development Corporation, she works alongside renowned researchers (and, coincidentally, a fellow alumna and friend). She synthesises new molecules that have the potential to become herbicides, and tackles key challenges facing modern agriculture. Despite the challenges of moving overseas and establishing her research career in the midst of the pandemic, Mattison is enjoying working in an area she’s passionate about on the other side of the world.

Isaac Honor
BA, BCom ’17

After eight years working in finance and consulting, Honor co-founded AusAir, a hightech filtration mask company, with fellow commerce classmates – his brother, Elias, and friend, Jack. Their first product was the AirFlex Mask, which filters over 99% of PM0.1 (ultra-fine particles), with botanically infused filters. In 2018, Honor and his team won the prestigious Sydney Genesis prize and today they have over 60,000 customers in more than 80 countries. In 2021, he led a study with the NSW Ministry of Health to design commercially compostable surgical respirators and masks, which he plans to release in late 2022. This year he is recognised as one of the top entrepreneurs in Asia, featuring in Forbes 30 Under 30 Class of 22, and will be returning to the Sydney Genesis program, this time as a mentor.

Noel Jeffs
MCW ’17

Poet and writer Noel grew up a stone’s throw from the ocean in Gippsland, Victoria. Noel’s story began at the University of Melbourne, where he received a scholarship to study geography and philosophy, and then followed a vocational calling to become ordained. He trained at St Barnabas College in Adelaide, before heading to the UK to study a Master of Arts in the Psychology of Therapy and Counselling at Antioch College, an affiliate of the University of Ohio, and volunteer as a psychotherapist at the Royal London Hospital. After further travel, he returned to Australia and completed a Master of Creative Writing at the University of Sydney. Now Noel enjoys exploring his passion for postmodern poetry, baking and volunteering.

Catherine Walker
BE(Civil) ’13

Walker graduated with an honours thesis on ‘Fog Collecting in Peru’, which involved helping local communities to address water scarcity by constructing a system to catch fog droplets. She worked in regional Australia as a specialist in civil engineering and irrigation design and consulting, then moved into the floodplain risk management industry, specialising in flood engineering and community consultation. Ten years on, she has opened an office for WMS, and built an all-female team of engineers in Sydney. Walker is on the founding committee of the Young Floodplain Managers and leads an industry working group to improve flood education in schools. Actively involved in the Sydney University Women in Engineering mentoring network, she is passionate about encouraging girls to persevere with STEM subjects.

Dr Na Jeebullah Soomro
MINTPH ’12, PhD ’18

Soomro is a medical doctor and dual-trained injury epidemiologist and sports scientist, having completed a Master of International Public Health, majoring in Epidemiology and Biostatistics, as well as a PhD in Exercise and Sports Medicine. His thesis, Cricket Injury Prevention, was completed in collaboration with Cricket Australia. It involved creating the world’s first Cricket Injury Prevention Program (CIPP) and injury surveillance mobile app for community cricket, called TeamDoc. From 2013 to 2018, he worked in various research roles at the University. He has worked with Cricket Australia, FIFA, Rugby League, Netball, Iron Man, Australian Hockey Team and Australian Football League and in 2021 was appointed as the Chief Medical Officer for the Pakistan Cricket Board.

Helen Dai
BCom(LibSt) ’08

As a first-generation migrant from China, Dai is passionate about diversity and inclusion and works for a future where Australia’s private, public and civic institutions represent the diversity of its people. Majoring in a perhaps curious mix of philosophy, accounting and finance, Dai decided to pursue a career in the Australian Public Service. She has served as an Australian diplomat in Indonesia, provided consular services for Australians in need overseas, and contributed to Australia’s economic prosperity through trade and investment advisory and policy development. Recognised in the 40 Under 40: Most Influential Asian- Australian awards in 2019, Dai also believes strongly that the arts can catalyse social change. She was recently appointed treasurer on the board of Griffin Theatre Company in Sydney.

Melanie Eckersley-Maslin
BSc(Adv) ’06, Bsc(Hons) ’08

After completing her honours degree, Eckersley-Maslin realised that she loved biomedical research so much that she wanted to complete a PhD. She also loved travelling – so she decided to combine the two, going on to complete her PhD at Cold Spring Habor Laboratories, New York, before moving to Cambridge, UK, as a postdoctoral research fellow. Back in Australia, she leads her own cancer research laboratory at Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre and the University of Melbourne, studying the way cell identity is established in embryonic development, providing insights into how cancers arise and develop. She was awarded the 2021 MetCalf Prize for Stem Cell Research, a 2021 Snow Medical Research Fellowship worth $8 million and is the winner of eight prestigious prizes, including the University of Sydney Medal.

Dr Regent Lee
MSurg ’08

As a vascular surgeon, Lee describes the opportunity to complete his master’s degree under the supervision of Professor John Fletcher and Dr Heather Medbury as setting a strong foundation for a clinical academic career path. This path has seen Lee pursue a DPhil (PhD) in Cardiovascular Medicine at the University of Oxford. A current recipient of a Future Leaders’ Fellowship, the most prestigious research fellowship awarded by the UK Research and Innovation Council, Lee is developing precision medicine strategies for patients with vascular diseases, such as abdominal aortic aneurysms, while remaining clinically active as a vascular surgeon. His innovations have led to multiple patents and a University of Oxford spin-out company, AiSentia, of which he is co-founder and Chief Medical Officer.

Ibrahim Samaan
BHlthSci(Phty) ’08, BAppSc(Phty) ’08

Samaan is a musculoskeletal physiotherapist turned inventor, thanks to his hygiene observations in the field. Starting at Bankstown- Lidcombe Hospital working on all aspects of physiotherapy, Samaan moved to the private sector in 2009, earning an unsupervised caseload by 2010 while actively pursuing further professional development. Soon becoming a senior physiotherapist in a medical centre, he also started a clinic for family and friends. By 2013 this had become his own physiotherapy business and he began looking at the industry-wide hygiene problem of multiple clients being facedown on the same therapy beds. The result was the Purifas® FaceShield, now sold internationally and winning the 2021 Asia-Pacific Gold Stevie Award for most innovative start-up.

Barry Dubovsky
BIntS ’07

Dubovsky is the Chief Operating Officer at MultiChoice Connected Video, a sub-Saharan African video entertainment company that rivals Netflix, Amazon Prime and Disney+. After starting his career in strategy and consulting for Deloitte and Telstra, he took on the challenge of leading the multinational media and entertainment group to grow their market share of pay TV households across Africa. Currently based in Dubai, Dubovsky regularly travels to South Africa, Nigeria and Kenya to stay in tune with the African market. He says the unique challenges of growing a streaming service in developing countries makes his role extremely exhilarating and rewarding.

Anne-Louise Sarks
BA(Hons) ’05

Before graduation, Sarks was the president of the Sydney University Dramatic Society (SUDS), and artistic co-director of the inaugural Verge Arts Festival in 2003. As a director, writer and dramaturg, her works have premiered in Sydney, London, Mexico City, Mumbai, Warsaw and New York. She was artistic director of the acclaimed Hayloft Project, resident director at Belvoir and director-in-residence at Melbourne’s Malthouse Theatre Company. She has been artistic director of the UK’s Lyric Ensemble, directed her award-winning reimagining of Medea for Theatre Basel and premiered Avalanche at London’s Barbican Centre. Sarks is now the incoming Artistic Director of the Melbourne Theatre Company.

Jessica Irvine
BEc(Hons) ’03

Irvine is a leading economics journalist, personal finance expert and bestselling author. As a senior economics writer and columnist at The Sydney Morning Herald and The Age, she has devoted her career to sharing her opinion on economic issues and chronicling her own personal finance and investing journey through her Instagram @ moneywithjess. Her start in journalism came soon after graduation, when her professor encouraged her to interview for a cadetship at the SMH. These days, Irvine is the author of two weekly columns for Nine and also publishes a weekly e-newsletter, Money with Jess. Her latest book, Money with Jess: Your Ultimate Guide to Household Budgeting, was released earlier this year. Her money mantra is simple: “Spend less than you earn; invest the rest.”

Sophie Ray
BA ’96, LLB ’98

Since her graduation with honours, Ray has spent two decades working across the diverse sectors of law, manufacturing, hospitality and tourism, early childhood, and social and welfare support. Her career has spanned Australia, the UK and Uganda, including 15 years as a director and corporate lawyer at PricewaterhouseCoopers in Australia and the UK. Ray is currently a full time Non- Executive Director of Go2 People (ASX: GO2) and of Big Fat Smile Group; Chair of the National Association of Women in Operations; Chair of RSL NSW; and Chair of Peak Care Equipment Pty Ltd. Living at her family’s business on the NSW South Coast, Silos Estate Winery, she is also involved in the local community, chairing the Shoalhaven Education Fund and the Shoalhaven Women’s Resource Group.

Ashley Gray
BA ’96

On leaving St Andrew’s College, Gray began a life in journalism via the tried and trusted route of a failed rock ’n’ roll career. He has since edited some of Australia’s biggest-selling magazines and worked on The Sydney Morning Herald and The Daily Telegraph. His stories have appeared in The Guardian, The Times of London, Wisden and Rugby League Week. In 2019 he was a finalist in AAP’s national headline writer of the year award. Now also an author, Gray’s book, The Unforgiven: Missionaries or Mercenaries, details his efforts to track down cricketers who’d toured apartheid-era South Africa in defiance of world sanctions. The book is shortlisted for the MCC, William Hill and Cricket Writers’ Club Book of the Year awards.

Prue Clarke
BEc ’95, MIS ’03

Clarke is an international journalist and media development and innovation expert whose commentary and reporting from six continents have appeared in The Washington Post, The New York Times, The Guardian and Foreign Policy magazine and on the BBC. Clarke was at Ground Zero for the September 11 attacks and reported on their aftermath for the ABC and the Financial Times. She created and led BBC radio and social media programming during the 2014 Ebola crisis in West Africa. Clarke co-founded New Narratives, an NGO supporting independent and news business innovation in low-income countries. She was Associate Professor and Director of International Reporting at the Newmark Graduate School of Journalism at the City University of New York.

William Campos
BSc ’94

Campos was born in Brazil and migrated to Australia as a child. He started his career as a family and youth service worker, moving into disability and health as a manager of psychological services, while studying clinical psychology. He pursued a career that encourages cultural difference and context in the therapeutic process and worked with telephone helplines, supporting the delivery of counselling services. He developed the Helplines Australia association in the 1990s. He researched the therapeutic context of the telephone environment and then later, online and interactive technology environments. He’s now the CEO of Independent Community Living Australia, a mental health and psychosocial disability service provider. He has been a keynote speaker on mental health advocacy and the importance of psychological research.

Margaret Guider
MEd '93

Guider taught in two local schools before taking a 10‑year break to get married and raise a family. After returning to teaching, where she was supervising teachers who were fresh from university, she enrolled in a Master of Education to build on her Teachers’ Certificate. When she moved to Forster years later, her love of learning led her to work for a local community college and Mission Australia as an English tutor, while an interest in family history inspired her to spend 20 years as a library genealogy volunteer. Now, Guider’s priorities are keeping physically and mentally active. An engaged member of her community, she is Chair of her local Community Health Advisory Committee and has recently planned a successful local forum on the topic of ageing at home.

Dr Richard Harris
MBBS ’89

Harris studied Medicine and was awarded a Fellow of the Royal Australasian College of Surgeons, in both General and Vascular Surgery, before working as a vascular and endovascular surgeon. He is now one of Australia’s leading vascular surgeons, working at Hornsby Ku-ringgai Hospital and the Sydney Adventist Hospital (SAN). He has also been the Chairman of the Medical Staff Council at Hornsby Hospital. In 2010, he spearheaded a campaign to upgrade Hornsby Hospital and was pivotal in lobbying state and federal governments, raising over $300 million for its complete rebuild. His other passion is writing. He has had two poems published and has just released his first novel, Imagine, inspired by John Lennon’s iconic song.

Peter Nicholl
BVetSci ’85

Most of Nicholl’s 36-year career as a veterinarian has been spent in and around Sydney. However, in his early years, Nicholl worked in the UK and South Australia. Returning to Sydney, he was employed managing the veterinary services for RSPCA NSW. Nicholl also worked part time in the media, including voiceover work and 12 years working for radio station 2UE on a gardening and pets program. Always having a strong interest in animal welfare led Nicholl to representation on several animal care and ethics committees and government-appointed panels. For the past 24 years, Nicholl has run a successful small animal practice in suburban Sydney as well as working as a racecourse veterinarian at several harness racing tracks in and around Sydney.

Mark Latchford
BA ’82

With his degree taking him unexpectedly into a corporate career via the IBM graduate program, Latchford stayed with that company for nearly 35 years. Appointed vicepresident of various divisions, including software and IT services, he was deployed worldwide including to Adelaide, Tokyo, Paris and Hong Kong. Throughout his career, Latchford used his communication skills, forensic hunger for evidence and ability to critically review problems and opportunities – skills that he points out were learned at the University. Post‑retirement he has served on various boards and travelled when that was possible. Latchford also realised his dream of writing and publishing a book, Letters to Lily Vale, which is part–military history, partbiography – something of a return to his essay-writing days in Fisher Library.

Phillip Simpson

MEc ’76, MA ’83

After 56 years formulating, developing and reviewing public policy and legislation, Simpson recently retired as a policy manager in the NSW Public Service. Across his career, he worked at Parliament House on a Royal Commission, selected beaches for nude bathing, assessed childcare centres, protected trees on vulnerable land, preserved our railway heritage, regulated the taxi industry, wrote official style guides and was appointed the state’s first ethics adviser. Simultaneously, Simpson studied public administration at UTS and the universities of London and Sydney. Then came postgraduate qualifications in historical archaeology and a decade as chairman of the National Trust’s Industrial Heritage Committee. An avid collector of maps and books, Simpson also wrote, over 30 years, the Historical Guide to New South Wales (Australian Scholarly Publishing, 2020).

Professor Charles Mackenzie
BVSc ’71, PhD(Veterinary Sciences) ’76, DVSc ’17

Charles’ genesis as a global leader in animal and human health research began with a BVSc, a PhD, and then a DVSc for work on parasitic infections. Together with researching host responses to parasites, he has assisted in demystifying human health impacts of a major chemical accident in India, understanding a disease killing bats in the US, and improving donkey health in Africa. His primary activity has been to assist in the control of ‘river blindness’ and ‘elephantiasis’ in Tanzania, Sudan, Ecuador, Yemen and India. He is currently chair of the Global Alliance for Lymphatic Filariasis, and on the national advisory committees of four African countries. He was recently presented with the Wolfensohn Award in New York for his contributions towards the control of disabling diseases.

Bruce Moir
BA ’67

After more than 35 years in filmmaking, Moir knows a thing or two about moving people with moving images. He discontinued his honours year in 1968 to take an opportunity as a film production assistant and never looked back. Throughout his career, he produced dozens of educational films, documentaries and short dramas, winning various awards along the way, including a 1988 Gold Logie for most popular miniseries, The Shiralee. In 1989, he took on the role of Executive Producer for Film Australia, and was promoted to CEO shortly after. Stepping down after almost a decade, Moir served another seven years in consulting roles, which included six on the Australian Film Commission.

Dr Garry Lewis

Awarded his most recent degree from Sydney at the age of 75, Lewis holds 13 degrees and five doctorates. After growing up working on the land with his father, he went on to pursue his dream of studying medicine. He first graduated from Sydney in the 1960s and recalls overflowing lecture theatres, all-night card games and forging lifelong friendships. He has worked as a doctor across Australia, England and Canada over 50 years. He was awarded overseas fellowships, a professorship, a specialisation in anaesthesia, published significant research, made breakthroughs in the treatment of asthma and radiation sickness, and holds qualifications in theology, science, letters and alternative medicine. A car enthusiast, he still owns a 1956 Armstrong Siddeley limousine, which he rides in the back seat of, alongside his wife, Elizabeth.

Anne Ring
BA ’64, MA ’74

Born in China to Hungarian parents, Ring (née Wise) immigrated to Australia in 1949. After majoring in psychology and anthropology and working as a clinical psychologist, she and her husband, a doctor, moved to Papua New Guinea, where she worked and studied as an anthropologist, gaining a master’s degree in 1974 from Sydney. After working in the US, Sydney and Brisbane and earning a Graduate Diploma in Health Education from the Brisbane College of Advanced Education in 1983, positions as tutorial fellow and lecturer led to her becoming the principal research officer in medical education at the University of Queensland, while completing her PhD in health sociology. Her current focus is writing on a range of ageing matters, with her book on this topic published this year. With three children and six grandchildren, she is also passionate about the environment.

Valerie Hoogstad AM
BA ’63

Hoogstad says she has seen Australian society undergo significant transformation, having commenced her University studies in 1960, when the landscape for women was changing. Through paid employment and volunteering, she has supported and upskilled people from all walks of life. This has included mentoring former prisoners. When she found that many were illiterate, with limited materials to help them learn, Hoogstad wrote a series of textbooks to fill the gap. Later hired as a lecturer at the University of Technology, Sydney (UTS) and the Australian Catholic University (ACU), she saw the introduction of international students to Australia, and went on to become ACU’s Director of International Students. A lifelong volunteer who currently serves on several boards, Hoogstad was named a Member of the Order of Australia earlier this year.