Our alumni in the news

Our alumni are constantly featured in the media as well as in publications across Australia and around the globe. The Alumni Relations office recognises the world-class excellence of our alumni and shines a spotlight on their achievements.


Multiple international awards for Dr Cheong Koon Hean’s outstanding contribution in shaping Singapore’s urban development

We are delighted that UON alumnus, Dr Cheong Koon Hean (Hon DArch 2010; B.Arch 1981; B.Sc (Arch) 1979), has been recognised for her outstanding work in urban development by receiving two international awards recently:

  • 2016 Lynn S Beedle Lifetime Achievement Awards, presented by the Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat (CTBUH)
  • 2016 J.C. Nichols Prize for Visionaries in Urban Development, presented by the Urban Land Institute (ULI).

Dr CHEONG Koon HeanShe is the first person in the world to have been conferred both prestigious awards in the same year.

A widely acclaimed architect-planner with a passion for urban planning, Dr Cheong is currently Chief Executive Officer of the Housing and Development Board (HDB). She was also formerly the Chief Executive Officer of the Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA) in Singapore for over six years and has been credited with shaping much of Singapore’s urban landscape.

Receiving the ULI Award in Dallas, Texas, Dr Cheong said "Comprehensive long term planning has been crucial for land and resource constrained Singapore, enabling it to become one of the most sustainable and highly liveable cities in Asia. In developing our city, we must also pay more attention to public spaces. Place-making and place management are about understanding how people use a place. We must never forget the people."

With an extraordinary career in city building, Dr Cheong’s work over more than 35 years impacts the lives of Singapore’s population. She has overseen the development of many key growth areas. As CEO of the URA, she has transformed a large tract of reclaimed land into the Marina Bay city business and financial district, giving Singapore a new signature global image.  Since holding the position of CEO (HDB) in 2010, Dr Cheong has overseen one of Singapore’s largest residential building programs to help address the high housing demand and has introduced the development of well-designed, sustainable, smart and community-centric towns.  Her work is focused on improving not just the quantity of public housing, but also the quality of the total environment for residents.

About the Awards:

The J.C. Nichols Prize recognises a person whose work demonstrates a commitment to the creation of communities that reflect the highest standards of design and development and is the highest accolade given by the ULI, a global non-profit education and research institute.  Dr Cheong is recognised as the 17th Nichols Laureate, the first female recipient and the first from Asia since the Award’s inception in 2002.

The recipient of CTBUH’s 2016 Lynn S Beedle Lifetime Achievement Awards, Dr Cheong is the first government official and urban planning figure to win the award, and her work in Singapore to encourage smart growth and sustainable vertical development succinctly aligns with the Council’s focus on the urban habitat.


UON graduates celebrate success at the 2016 Australia China Alumni Awards

On Saturday 19 November 2016, UON celebrated the achievements of four graduate finalists at the annual Australia China Alumni award ceremony held in Guangzhou, China.

The Australia China Alumni Awards were established by the Australia China Alumni Association, and are a high-profile initiative recognising the wide-ranging achievements of graduates of Australian universities that are currently based in China, both local and expatriate.

Professor Xiaowei Du (PhD (Food Science) 2002) was named as winner of the Australia China Alumni Award for Research and Innovation category.

We congratulate Professor Du, along with UON's three other graduate finalists, Professor Xiaofei Zhang, Mr Congyu Li and Dr Zhidong Li on this outstanding achievement.

Please see each of the graduates biographies below.

Xiaowei Du Winner: Business Events Sydney - Australia China Alumni Award for Research and Innovation

Professor Xiaowei Du is a widely respected expert in Chinese medicinal botany. She is a highly successful teacher and researcher and is currently the Vice-President of the Pharmacy College at Heilongjiang University of Chinese Medicine (HUCM). She completed a PhD at The University of Newcastle in 2002.

Professor Du played an instrumental role in determining optimum harvesting times of various medicinal herbs, which directly contributed to increased quality and yield of crops.

Her research has evaluated the ability of Chinese medicines to improve sleep. Her methodology will lead to a new natural sedative drug free from the side effects of chemical drugs used to aid sleep.

She has also studied functional endophytic fungi in selected medicinal herbs, proving that fungi increase active components in the herbs which enhances the effectiveness of the herbs.

Professor Du has published six textbooks on Chinese medicine and pharmacy, as well as over 30 articles in a range of scientific journals including Progress in Modern Biomedicine, Science & Technology Review, and Chinese Journal of Pharmaceutical Analysis.

Congyu LiFinalist: IDP Education - Australia China Alumni Award for ICT and New Media

Congyu Li obtained his Master of Business Administration from the University of Newcastle in 2014. He is currently Head of Venture Capital Division, People's Turbine of People's Daily.

He established Chinese Returnees Elites Association in Sydney to advance the economic and cultural communication among the Chinese associations, the government and the enterprises.

In 2015, Mr Li was invited to join China’s most authoritative official media – People’s Daily as the Director of the Entrepreneurship, Innovation and Investment Business Unit of People’s Turbine. In this role he is responsible for the entrepreneurship, innovation, investment and financing reporting, and offers advice and suggestions for the enterprise development.

He was the executive director in 2016 of China's Domestic Brands Summit, attracting nearly 300 Chinese officers, entrepreneurs and media. The Summit was highly successful in assisting enterprises to building brand awareness, and established dialogue between overseas and Chinese brands.

Zhidong LiFinalist: CPA Australia - Australia China Alumni Award for Banking and Finance

Dr Zhidong Li was the first person to be awarded a Doctorate of Business Administration from the University of Newcastle in Australia. He has published a range of well-received books, journal articles and conference papers related to finance, banking, leadership and business management.

Dr Li has a distinguished 20-year career, developing and implementing ground-breaking business strategies that have had significant corporate development and financial outcomes in various business sectors, such as financial services, new energy and urban development industries.

As the Founder and President of Dongjunfangda Investments and Executive Director of Vanion Group and CEO of Hancheng Equity Management Firm, Dr Li manages a RMB500 million equity fund and a RMB4 billion asset portfolio, including several recreation and tourism projects along China’s east coast.

Prior to this, Dr Li has held many senior roles including; President of The Heter Electronics Group - a leading lithium iron phosphate green battery manufacturer in China, Chairman of the Corun Group Investment and Risk Management Committee, Vice President of Pilot Investment Holdings and CEO of China Organic Agriculture.

Xiaofei Zhang Finalist: IELTS - Australia China Alumni of the Year Award

A world leader in the field of non-communicable diseases, Professor Xiaofei Zhang is a Professor in Epidemiology and Biostatistics and Director of Clinical Epidemiology and Biostatistics at Tsinghua Beijing Changgung Hospital, Medical Center of Tsinghua University.

Professor Zhang graduated from the University of Newcastle with a PhD in Clinical Epidemiology and Community Health in 2006.

His research has investigates a wide range of areas including: epidemic trends, risk factors and the prevention of cardiovascular disease in China; work- and disability-related injuries, particularly in the US; risk factors for stroke; factors influencing hypertension; and AIDS. Professor Zhang’s public health research and practise has helped inform policy decisions and evidence-based medicine by identifying risk factors for disease and targets for preventive medicine in China.

Professor Zhang is a prolific researcher and a regular presenter at international conferences. He also listed as a respected reviewer of several prestigious medical journals and is a member of numbers medical associations across America, Australia and China.


Australia Day Honours

Congratulations to the University of Newcastle graduates and alumni who were recognised in the Australia Day honours for 2015. These awards are a fitting recognition not only of our alumni's outstanding service but also the leadership role that UON graduates play in their profession and the broader community.

Inspector Bruce McGregor

The Bachelor of Social Science (1994) graduate received an Australian Police Medal. Bruce was instrumental in the introduction of school speed zones, leading the NSW Government's pilot trial of 40km/h speed safety restrictions at school crossings in the Newcastle and Lake Macquarie Local Government Areas. In 2014 Bruce received the NSW Police award for the Aboriginal Issues Officer of the Year, and in 2013, the NSW Rotary Police Customer Service Excellence Award.

Mr Norman Angelkovic

Norman received aPublic Service Medal for outstanding public service to the community of NSW through the provision of financial and human resources for the State Crime Command. Normanhas served in the NSW Public Service for more than 40 years, including 16 years with the NSW Police Force. In 1998, Norman obtained a Bachelor of Commerce from UON.

Mr Bruce Henry

Bruce's love of the community was recognised with his OAM for service to the community through a range of organisations. Bruce was a founding member of the Wyong Shire Senior Citizens Council in 2007; and involved with the Association of Independent Retirees from 1996-2010, including the position of NSW Vice President from 2003-04. Since 2003 he has been an active member of Wrap with Love, providing warm wraps to millions of people in the world suffering extreme cold.

Mr Kevin Harold Berger

Kevin Berger is the founder and executive director of the Dynamic Alternative Learning Environment (DALE) program at St Philips Christian School, Waratah. The program, established in 1997, supports at-risk and special needs youth to remain at school and continue their education. The school also offers a separate program for young mothers seeking to complete the high school certificate. Kevin, a UON Bachelor of Educational Studies (1978) and Bachelor of Science (1975) graduate, was recognised with an OAM for service to education through specialised alternative learning programs for youth.

Dr Alan Francis Beard

Alan was awarded an Honorary Doctor of Education from UON in 1993. His Australia Day OAM recognises his service to the community of the Hunter. Alan held executive positions including Club President, Club Secretary and Public Officer with the Rotary Club of Warners Bay from 1978-2010. He was instrumental in kicking off the first formal Loop the Lake bike ride for charity in 1997; a member of the International Youth Exchange Program from 1979-90; and Founding Governor of the Fort Street Foundation in 1999.

Professor Peter Ebeling

A Conjoint Lecturer at UON'sSchool of Medicine and Public Health, Peter received an AO for distinguished service to medicine in the field of bone health, through academic contributions and research initiatives in administrative, executive and professional roles. The endocrinologist specialist and researcher is Director of the Australian Institute of Musculoskeletal Science, Medical Director of Osteoporosis Australia, and a Board Member of the International Osteoporosis Foundation. He is also the President of the Endocrine Society of Australia.


Gold Walkley awarded to UON graduate

Joanne McCarthy has won Australian journalism's most prestigious award, the Gold Walkley, for her coverage of child sex abuse in the Catholic Church.

The Newcastle Herald journalist's reporting last year on the sexual abuse of children, primarily by Catholic clergy in the Newcastle and Hunter regions, prompted a state enquiry and royal commission.

In her acceptance speech at the Walkley Award ceremony in Brisbane on November 28, Joanne thanked the victims for trusting her and her team.

"I want to thank all of the people, the victims and the family, who have trusted us," she said speech.

"For people who have every reason in the world not to trust, they trusted us. I think over the years that's what got us to the point that we did and I'm proud of that because we didn't let them down."

The Herald team including Joanne, editor Chad Watson and reporters Ian Kirkwood and Jason Gordon won the Walkley award for coverage of community and regional affairs for the 'Shine the Light' series on child sex abuse.

2013 has been a successful year for Joanne who was named Melbourne Press Club's Graham Perkin Australian Journalist of the Year, the Gold Kennedy NSW Journalist of the Year and Prodi's Northern NSW Journalist of the Year. These awards all recognised her investigative work into the Catholic Church.

Joanne, who completed a Bachelor of Arts in 2003 and the Open Foundation Program in 1997, said her time at University was invaluable during her research.

"For the past seven years I have had to source documents, objectively assess information, conduct interviews, critically evaluate competing data, reach conclusions, write articles in which arguments are developed and deliver speeches to support those arguments, often against considerable criticism," she said.

"That work has relied on the skills I developed and tested at the University, after completing Open Foundation."

Listen to Joanne's interview with 1233 ABC Newcastle following her Gold Walkley award win.


UoN Fine Art Student Wins National Tertiary Art Prize

Bachelor of Fine Art graduate and Faculty medallist Shan Turner-Carroll is the winner of the Doctor Harold Schenberg Art Prize.

Shan's work was selected to represent the University at the Hatched exhibition, which features 37 artists from 20 art schools across Australia. His work is currently showing at the Perth Institute of Contemporary Arts.

Shan was awarded the Jennie Thomas Travelling Art Scholarship in 2012 and will be travelling to Myanmar in June. He will be exhibiting his award-winning work and creating new images reflecting the experience of his ancestral homeland.

You can see Shan's work on our Callaghan campus. As part of the University's history and heritage project, Shan photographed the former Dean of Law Neil Rees. His portrait hangs in the Law School, located in the McMullin building.

Watch an interview with Shan.


Focus on our alumni in print

Our alumni are published in a vast range of texts in their fields of excellence. Alumni in Print shines a spotlight on our published alumni.

Graduate wins twice for first novel

Michael Sala is an award-winning author, an award winning teacher, and a graduate of the University of Newcastle.

The Last Thread, Michael's first novel, tracks a childhood spent between Holland and Australia. Michael develops a disjointed intimacy between the old world and Newcastle - an intimacy reflected in complex family relations that strain across the international and the suburban.

The Last Thread won the Pacific Region section of the Commonwealth Book Prize and the UTS Glenda Adams Award for New Writing. Michael has previously been shortlisted for the Vogel Australian Literary Award.

Michael continues to write, and teaches at the University of Newcastle. In 2012 he won the Vice-Chancellor's Award for Sessional Teaching Excellence.

Read more about Michael's prize win and watch his interview with ABC News.29.11.13