Awards for alumni who help change the world

5 April 2017

Every year the Alumni Awards event is held in the historic Great Hall to honour outstanding recent graduates and more established alumni who have been leaders and innovators in their work in Australia and internationally. 

People from every part of the University community will gather in the Great Hall on Thursday 27 April for the 2017 Alumni Awards.

Under the Hall’s newly launched lighting design, alumni and more recent graduates will be honoured for their outstanding dedication, leadership and vision. This year, the new President’s Award will be given for the first time, honouring an acclaimed alumnus whose career has enriched society.

The Award winners have come from multiple disciplines. Their work has influenced everything from the spaces where we live, the music that we listen to, the technology that serves us, the understanding of our planet and its dangers, and the education of children. They have also worked throughout the world from the US to Uganda, Switzerland to Antarctica.

The 2017 Alumni Award winners are architect and arts patron, Penelope Seidler AM; computer science pioneer, Emeritus Professor Vaughan Pratt; orchestra conductor, Antony Walker; biologist and ecologist, Dr Patricia Selkirk AAM; educator and humanitarian, Annabelle Chauncy OAM; and innovative maths teacher, Eddie Woo. The inaugural President’s Award goes to Dr Colin Mathers for his transformative work at the World Health Organisation (WHO).

Each of them has fulfilled one of the University’s most important missions; to make a better world.

Also honoured on the night will be 20 of the most outstanding recent graduates who have achieved academic excellence and contributed to the richness of the University community. Medal winners will be announced at the ceremony.

The award winners were selected by a panel of judges including the Alumni Council, University academics and professional staff, after being nominated by colleagues, family and people from the broader community. Nominations for the next Alumni Awards open later in the year. Find out more information about 2018 nominations

Penelope Seidler AM (BArch '64)

Alumni Award for Cultural Contribution

Eighteen year old Penelope Evatt was inspired to study architecture by the man who would become her husband, influential architect, Harry Seidler. Together they pioneered the integration of modernist art and architecture in Australia. Today, Penelope is a prominent and leading architect, but also an advocate and patron for music, architecture, art and performance. With an interest in nurturing the careers of countless artists, she is also a willing subject, with Fiona Lowry’s 2014 portrait of Penelope winning the 2014 Archibald Prize.

Emeritus Professor Vaughan Pratt (BSc '67 MSc '70)

Alumni Award for Innovation and Entrepreneurship

Vaughan is a pioneering mathematical theorist and a real-world problem solver who was an early driving force behind computer company, Sun Microsystems, for which he also designed the iconic logo. Some key computer concepts like the Knuth-Morris-Pratt algorithm bear his name and in 1976 he developed Dynamic Logic originally for software but which is now applied in other disciplines. He is now an Emeritus Professor at Stanford University and working on ideas for low carbon energy and improved climate change forecasting.

Antony Walker (BMus ’91)

Alumni Award for International Achievement

Antony was just 12 when his music teacher predicted he would be a conductor. As a University student, he conducted the Melbourne and Sydney Symphony Orchestras and by 22, he was the Musical Director of the Sydney Philharmonia Choirs. Antony has now conducted across Europe and the US including choral, symphonic and chamber works and over 100 operas, with regular returns to Australia to stay engaged with local companies that he helped create; Pinchgut Opera, Orchestra of the Antipodes, and Cantillation.

Dr Patricia Selkirk AAM (BSc ’64 PhD ’69)

Alumni Award for Professional Achievement 

Patricia is a decorated subantarctic researcher who has spent much of her career on Macquarie Island (1500km south of Tasmania) and Heard Island (4000km southwest of Fremantle). In 1983, she was the first woman to conduct research at Antarctica’s Casey station. Her specialisation is mosses and liverworts and her book, Subantarctic Macquarie Island: Environment and Biology, published in 1990, is still a key work in the field. She is seen as a trail blazer and role model for women scientists everywhere. Read more

Annabelle Chauncy OAM (BA ’07 LLB ’10)

Alumni Award for Service to Humanity

Annabelle’s idea for the School for Life came from a simple observation – a couple of years schooling can change a child’s life. She was in Uganda at the time and wanted to help. So in 2011, Annabelle and a fellow University student established Katuuso Primary and Vocational School. The first students had never seen a book. Many weren’t getting enough to eat. From nothing, the school now has buildings and nearly 560 students. Annabelle’s vision is creating a sustainable model for replicating across the developing world.

Eddie Woo (BEd(Second)(Math)(Hons) ’08)

Outstanding Achievements for Young Alumni

The Sydney Morning Herald said Eddie is “arguably the country’s most famous maths teacher”, and it all started with an act of kindness. One of his students was sick so Eddie filmed his maths lesson on a phone and posted it online. Now his YouTube channel, Wootube, has had more than 3 million views and Eddie was awarded the 2015 Premier’s Prize for Innovation in Science and Mathematics. He also works with the University’s Compass program helping disadvantaged communities participate in higher education.

Dr Colin Mathers (BSc ’75 PhD ’79)

The President's Award

Colin remembers when the World Health Organisation (WHO), UNICEF, the World Bank and the UN Population Division used different statistics for child mortality rates. Knowing the power of statistics to enlighten, it was appropriate that Colin had the task of changing this. His PhD was in theoretical physics, but his career has seen him working to improve international health outcomes. For 15 years he has led the WHO on global health statistics helping international agencies work together by having access to the same information. Read more

Alumni Awards stage with grand piano


Graduate Medal Finalists

Mina Askovic (BHlthSc ’16 BHlthSc (Hons) ’17)
Finalist for Convocation Medal

Jack Blair (BSc ’17)
Finalist for Nigel C Barker Medal

Sarah Bradbury (BA(Media&Comm) ’14 LLB(Hons) ’16)
Finalist for Convocation Medal

Clare Britton (MSA ’16)
Finalist for Edmund Barton Medal

Dane Drivas (BA ’15 MTeach ‘17)
Finalist for Edmund Barton Medal

Dr Kerryn Drysdale (BA(Hons) ’03 MA ’09 PhD’16)
Finalist for Rita and John Cornforth Medal

Dr Ines Duran Matute (PhD ’16)
Finalist for Rita and John Cornforth Medal

Janelle Evans (BVA(Hons) ’13 MFA ’16)
Finalist for Sister Alison Bush Medal

Dr Luciano (Luke) Hespanhol (MIDEA ’13 PhD’16)
Finalist for Rita and John Cornforth Medal

Yi Yun Low (BSc ’17)
Finalist for John C Harsanyi Medal

Rhys Michie (MHR ’17)
Finalist for Edmund Barton Medal

Nur Nazurah Mohd Nasir (MPE ’17)
Finalist for John C Harsanyi Medal

Samuel Murray (BA ’14 LLB(Hons) ’16)
Finalist for Convocation Medal

Nate Phumitharanon (BA(Hons) ’17)
Finalist for John C Harsanyi Medal

Tian Qin (BA ’14 MCom ’16)
Finalist for John C Harsanyi Medal

Philippa Specker (BPsych(Hons) ’17)
Finalist for Convocation Medal

Dr Lukasz Swiatek (BA(Media&Comm)(Hons) ’11 PhD ’16)
Finalist for Rita and John Cornforth Medal

Kane Townsend (BSc (Hons) ’17)
Finalist for Nigel C Barker Medal

Geoffrey Winters (BA(Hons) ’11 LLB ’16)
Finalist for Sister Alison Bush Medal

Yiu Cheryl Wong (BE(Hons) '16 BSc(Adv)(Hons) '16)
Finalist for Convocation Medal

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