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Recognising exceptional graduates

Join us for our Gala Dinner
28 July 2017

The University of Newcastle (UON) is proud of its graduates and we celebrate their achievements, at home and abroad. Reaching all corners of the globe, the UON alumni community includes more than 135,000 dynamic and diverse achievers across 139 countries.

The UON Alumni Awards recognise and celebrate innovation, creativity and the exceptional leadership of graduates who inspire others through their local, national and international achievements.

Join us for our Awards night on Friday 28 July 2017 as we celebrate the diverse achievement of our UON alumni.

Purchase tickets now

Meet our finalists

The Alumni Medal for Professional Excellence recognises an outstanding record of professional excellence in leadership, knowledge and professional practice.

Dr Robert Edmonson
Doctor of Business Administration 2009
Dr Robert Edmonson is an internationally recognised Leadership Thought Leader, Author, Speaker and Adjunct Lecturer. He co-founded two well-known firms - PCR , showcased on NBC, Wall St. Journal, NY Times, recognized as 'Hertz of Computer Rentals'; Paradigm21, a Leadership Development Consultancy awarded "Hong Kong Most Valuable Companies 2011”.
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Professor Dr Carla Treloar
PhD (Medicine) 1995, Bachelor of Science (Honours) 1991
Professor Dr Carla Treloar is the leading international social scientist in hepatitis C, an infection that affects many of the most disadvantaged in our society. Her work helps guide how clinical, policy and community programs can support or hinder access to care; and how someone who has injected drugs comes to understand and make decisions about hepatitis C.
Read more »

The Newton-John Award recognises innovation or creativity in any field that has improved cultural life.

Virginia McLeod
Bachelor of Architecture 1997, Bachelor of Design (Architecture) 1995
Virginia McLeod is an author, editor and publisher whose works have made a significant and original contribution to contemporary architecture literature. She has brought a truly innovative and creative approach to architectural publishing, including in her current role as Commissioning Editor, Architecture at Phaidon in London, where she generously shares her knowledge and speaks with a unique voice. Read more »

Associate Professor Dr Simone Paterson
PhD (Fine Art) 2005
Educator, artist and creative researcher, Associate Professor Simone Paterson is Chair of Undergraduate Studies in Creative Technologies at Virginia Polytechnic and State University in USA. Simone’s international influence has reinvented mainstream culture in meaningful ways by using contrasting art-making techniques – from traditional craft like sewing, often defined as women’s work, to visual effects and digital imaging – in a deliberate strategy to blur boundaries. Read more »

Susie Porter
Bachelor of Arts 1993
With over 20 years of service in the film, television and theatre industries, Susie Porter has a reputation as one of Australia’s most outstanding actors. Her diverse acting skills have won Susie successful lead and supporting roles in over 20 films, 39 television series and 11 theatre productions, both locally and abroad.
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The Alumni Award for Exceptional Community Service recognises the work of an outstanding alumni member who has made a significant contribution to their community, and has built or enhanced the reputation of the University of Newcastle and its relationship with the community.

Melissa Histon
Member of the alumni community
Melissa Histon is Founder and Chief Executive of Got Your Back Sista, a Newcastle based charity helping women and children thrive after escaping the trauma of domestic violence. Inspired to uplift and motivate women in her community, Melissa launched an online community for women to connect. It has since grown into a dedicated and independent organisation supporting people escaping domestic violence. Read more »

Dr Joanne McCarthy
Honorary Degree - Doctor of Letters 2015, Bachelor of Arts 2003
Award-winning Newcastle Herald journalist Dr Joanne McCarthy’s work transcends traditional journalism to extraordinary depths of advocacy. Delivered under extreme pressure and public scrutiny, Joanne’s work is empathic, courageous and composed. In 2006, she started writing about child sexual abuse in Newcastle and Hunter Valley institutions, primarily the Catholic Church. Read more »

Dr Janet Wallace
PhD (Oral Health) 2013, Graduate Certificate in the Practice of Tertiary Teaching 2013, Bachelor of Oral Health 2007
Dr Janet Wallace is Program Convenor of the Bachelor of Oral Health Therapy at the University of Newcastle, and her work addresses the desperate need for a preventative focus in this area. Janet established the first BOHT student placement program in residential age care facilities on the NSW Central Coast, a model that has now been adopted at other programs across Australia. Read more »

The Alumni Award for Regional Leadership requires demonstration of leadership and/or entrepreneurship initiatives with significance in a regional context.

Mick Liubinskas
Bachelor of Business 1996
Mick Liubinskas is a high-energy technology entrepreneur, investor and industry leader. His passion for educating and connecting startup founders has directly impacted the development and maturation of Sydney's startup ecosystem. In 2008 he co-founded Australia’s first new-age technology startup incubator, Pollenizer which launched 20 tech startups, including selling Spreets to Yahoo!7. Read more »

Professor Jenny May AM
Bachelor of Medicine (Hons) 1985
As Director of the University of Newcastle, Department of Rural Health, Professor Jenny May AM combines a deep passion for clinical work and her drive to improve the health of rural Australians through advocacy and research. She has made a remarkable contribution to the health and wellbeing of regional communities, and plays a significant role in growing the next generation of health care professionals by training and mentoring countless young doctors and students. Read more »

The Alumni Award for National Leadership requires demonstration of leadership and/or entrepreneurship initiatives with national reach.

Trent Bagnall
Bachelor of Environmental Science 1994
Trent Bagnall spent ten years building a successful ASX listed, QMASTOR limited an international technology company before co-founding Slingshot, Australia’s leading corporate startup accelerator. Trent is committed to harnessing entrepreneurship and innovation, and bringing this to the Australian startup ecosystem.
Read more »

Dr Richard Denniss
Bachelor of Commerce 1993
As Chief Economist and former Executive Director of The Australia Institute, Dr Richard Denniss has helped to shift the national policy debate on a number of central issues including climate change and the need for reform in Australia's retirement system. A columnist, media commentator and author of numerous books on economics, Richard has become a nationally-recognisable figure who champions progressive economic and social policies. Read more »

Ross Knowles
Bachelor of Science (Honours) 1995
In co-founding Ethinvest (Australia’s first financial planning practice with a specialist ethical investment division), Ross Knowles pioneered a game changing approach to match ethical environmental management with positive investment returns. Ethinvest currently manages over 500 individual portfolios representing more than $500m.
Read more »

Dr Mark Skanes
Doctor of Business Administration 2016
Over the past 15 years, Dr Mark Skanes’ research, program delivery and mentoring contributions to the gas, utility and rail industries has made them safer and more cost effective. As Deputy Chair of the Cooperative Research Centre for Rail Innovation, Mark linked the substantial skills and resources of the rail industry with $100m collaborative research projects to deliver innovation to the rail industry. Read more »

The Alumni Award for International Leadership requires a nominee to demonstrate that their role extends beyond the shore of the country in which they reside to produce positive outcomes, or that their position has international influence.

Dr Bryson Bates
Bachelor of Engineering 1978
Dr Bryson Bates is an internationally renowned leader of research into climate change and variability. He brings together an extensive knowledge of hydrology and statistics to explore the impact of climate change and variability on water resources and climatic and weather extremes.
Read more »

Dr David Okello
Master of Medical Science (Clinical Epidemiology) 1994
Dr David Okello is Head of Mission and Representative of the World Health Organization (WHO) to Zimbabwe. Prior to this, he served as WHO Representative in Nigeria, Kenya and Swaziland,providing policy advice and directing all in-country coordination of WHO in liaison with the Global HQ.
Read more »

The Indigenous Alumni Award recognises the contributions, outstanding talent and achievements of an Indigenous graduate in their chosen field.

Associate Professor Aunty Kerrie Doyle
Bachelor of Arts (Psychology) 1999, Graduate Diploma in Health Science 1993
As a practicing nurse, researcher, educator and mentor, Associate Professor Aunty Kerrie Doyle has devoted her life to the care of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander patients. She currently coordinates clinical and research studies at Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology, and takes a lead role in curriculum development across all health disciplines.
Read more »

Craig Eade
Bachelor of Laws 2014/Diploma of Legal Practice 2014, Bachelor of Arts 2012
Advocating for the interests of Indigenous people has been an abiding interest for Craig Eade since he was a law student at the University of Newcastle. In 2013, he initiated a successful campaign to establish the inaugural position of Indigenous Representative on the University of Newcastle Law Association Committee.
Read more »

Professor John Lester
PhD (Education) 2016
From his role as the first Indigenous TAFE Principal in Australia to his appointment to the inaugural Aboriginal Studies Chair at University of Newcastle, Professor John Lester he has made an outstanding contribution to the field of Indigenous education. John’s research, publications and advice have influenced state and national policy-making for more than 35 years.
Read more »

Associate Professor Peter O’Mara
Bachelor of Medicine 1999
Improving the competencies of doctors and other health professionals in working with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander patients is a lifelong commitment for Associate Professor Peter O’Mara. It provides the focus for his work as a practising GP and Director of the Royal Australian College of General Practitioners (RACGP).
Read more »

The Beryl Nashar Young Researcher Award recognises the research achievements of early- and mid-career researchers.

Dr Emma Beckett
PhD (Food Science) 2016, Masters of Science Management 2011, Bachelor of Biomedical Science (Honours) 2007
After transitioning into the field of molecular nutrition, Dr Emma Beckett has focused on the emerging field of gene-nutrient interactions in her work an Early Career Researcher in the School of Medicine and Public Health at the University of Newcastle. Her research unites her experience in nutrition and microbiology to investigate the links between taste, genetics, gastrointestinal microbiotia and diet, and how these factors interact to predispose to health or disease. Read more »

Dr Andrew Bivard
PhD (Medicine) 2013, Bachelor of Biomedical Science (Honours) 2009
An Early Career Research Fellow at the Hunter Medical Research Institute, Dr Andrew Bivard’s work centres on acute ischemic stroke imaging, and patient selection for reperfusion therapies. Extremely talented at translating his research into clinical practice, Andrew led his team to develop the imaging processing program MiStar with industry partner Apollo.
Read more »

Dr Amy Maguire
PhD (Law) 2011, Bachelor of Laws 2004, Bachelor of Arts 2002
Exploring alternative responses to controversial problems is what drives Dr Amy Maguire’s work, which is at the cutting edge of international legal research. She is engaged in innovative research to extend our understanding of self-determination beyond its historical applications to novel global problems, providing much-needed critical perspectives on climate law and governance, with the potential to influence global policy debates. Read more »

The Young Alumni Award recognises outstanding achievements and contributions by a young graduate.

Daniel Nelson
Bachelor of Computer Science 2004
As an engineer, mobile commerce champion and big data expert, Daniel Nelson has helped some of Australia’s most recognised brands advance their approach to commerce. He has risen to a senior leadership position at PayPal Australia, one of world’s biggest e-commerce companies. Daniel now resides in San Francisco leading the PayPal owned company Braintree's global partnerships team. Read more »

Dr Xanthe Spindler
Bachelor of Science (Forensic) (Honours) 2006
Quickly establishing herself as a leading academic in forensic science, Dr Xanthe Spindler has a strong international profile in fingerprint sciences. She is Program Director for undergraduate Forensic Biology, Masters and Honours Forensic Science students at the University of Technology Sydney. Xanthe’s research in the efficacy of fingermark enhancement techniques is having a huge impact operationally, with more identifiable fingermarks being detected than ever before. Read more »

Dr Malcolm Starkey
PhD (Immunology and Microbiology) 2014, Bachelor of Biomedical Science (Honours) 2008
Immunologist and microbiologist, Dr Malcolm Starkey is a National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) and Australian Research Council (ARC) Early Career Postdoctoral Fellow. His work is substantially contributing to understanding early-life impairment of a healthy immune system and how this predisposes to chronic diseases such as asthma, emphysema and kidney disease. Read more »

Who are UON alumni?

Section 34-35 of the By-law and section 14 of the Act defines who is a member of the alumni network:

  • Graduates of the University
  • Past and present members of the University Council
  • Past and present members of academic staff
  • Other persons admitted to Convocation under the By-law, including but not limited to certain non-academic members of staff and Honorary Degree recipients and people who live in the Hunter with an equivalent degree
  • Graduates of our former institutions: Newcastle Teachers College; National Art School (amalgamated with NCAE in 1975); Newcastle University College (Tighes Hill); Newcastle Conservatorium of Music; Newcastle College of Advanced Education and the Hunter Institute of Higher Education
  • Study Abroad, Exchange Students and Enabling Program participants are considered Associate Alumni.

About the Alumni Advisory Committee

The AAC is an advisory body established under provisions of the University of Newcastle Act. It is a group of alumni elected by their peers to represent the UON alumni community.

The Committee has an advisory role to the University Council on all matters relevant to alumni and partners with the Office of Alumni and Philanthropy to support alumni development.

For more information about the Awards, please contact