The University of Newcastle, Australia

Meet our alumni

Video: Artist Brett Piva talks the 2019 Alumni Awards
Ben Kantarovski - The Winning Balance

Ben Kantarovski - The Winning Balance

Edging on close to 200 appearances for the club, the Newcastle local sat down to chat about what it's like to play for his home team, juggling a professional football career and uni, and how the spirit of community has kept him going through the years. 

You’re a born and bred Novocastrian. What makes you want to stay in Newcastle with football?

I don’t think there’s any better feeling than being able to play for your hometown or home club. I think many players grow up dreaming of playing for their hometown, without actually having a team to play for, so I find myself very fortunate to have that opportunity available and to have done it for so long. Now it’s the icing on the cake and gives me that drive to keep doing well. Getting to play for your hometown gives you that little bit more passion and desire than someone who’s not local. It gives you that extra connection to the club and the town and the people. It makes it more special.

If you were offered the same deal at Newcastle and any other club in the A-League, where would you choose to go?

Newcastle. I think my career so far answers that because I’ve been here for 12 seasons. We were actually laughing today about it with my coach. This is my twelfth year in the A-League. There have been times that for whatever reason Newcastle has had its ups and downs, but at the end of the day I play for this shirt and want to be a part of this club. I have been fortunate enough to do this for 12 seasons now and hopefully many more to come. But like I said, you have to keep doing your job on the field to make sure that you’re warranted and give yourself every opportunity to stay.

Ben Kantarovski, Bachelor of Psychology 2018

Recipient of the 2019 Alumni Medal for Professional Excellence

Recipient of the 2019 Alumni Medal for Professional Excellence

Ruth Lopert is a public health physician, pharmacoeconomist, teacher, researcher, and independent consultant in global health, pharmaceutical policy, and health technology assessment. She is a strong advocate in the intersecting areas of trade, globalization, intellectual property, and access to medicines.

From 2008 to 2011, Ruth was the chief medical officer in the Therapeutic Goods Administration the Australian drug and therapeutics regulatory agency, and Chair of the National Drugs & Poisons Schedule Committee. Prior to that she established and directed the pharmaceutical policy unit in the Commonwealth Department of Health, and was a medical and policy adviser to the Pharmaceutical Benefits Advisory Committee (PBAC).

Later, her work took her to the US, Eastern Europe, South East Asia, Sub-Saharan Africa and Latin America, as a consultant to governments (including the US Government), and to organizations such as the World Bank, the Organisation for Economic Cooperation & Development, the Global Fund, WHO, UNDP, and the Pan American Health Organization

Ruth Lopert, Master of Medical Science (Epidemiology) 2001, Bachelor of Medicine 1995

CEO of Indonesia's largest taxi company recognised with National Leadership Award

CEO of Indonesia's largest taxi company recognised with National Leadership Award

Noni Purnomo is a widely recognised business leader and philanthropist in Indonesia. She is the President and CEO of the family-owned Blue Bird Group Holding, the largest taxi company in Indonesia.

The company serves millions of customers a month, owns more than 39,000 vehicles and employs 50,000 drivers and staff. In 2015, Noni was listed as one of the “Power Women in Asia” by Forbes and, in 2017, she was featured in Globe Asia’s “99 Most Powerful Women”.

Noni founded Blue Bird Care, a philanthropy division of Blue Bird Group, launching the ‘Women Empowerment Project’ to empower 40,000 wives of Blue Bird group drivers and employees providing them with small loans and training to start their own businesses from their homes.

Graduate named Newcastle Young Citizen of the Year

Graduate named Newcastle Young Citizen of the Year

24-year-old Bhavi Ravindran (B Medicine 2018, B Medical Science (Honours) 2017) was recognised for his outstanding contribution to the medical profession at such a young age.

Dr Bhavi holds numerous positions on medical boards including the Australian Medical Council and Medical Students Accreditation Committee, which is responsible for the accreditation of the 24 medical schools across Australia and New Zealand.

He has worked with the United Nations and World Health Organisation on a number of leading international population health projects, and in 2016 convened a Global Health Conference in Newcastle.

The conference drew more than 850 medical students from across the world to discuss public health and global governance issues.

As an active member of the University community, Dr Bhavi served as the elected student representative on the University Council for three terms in 2014, 2015 and 2018.

Vice-Chancellor, Professor Alex Zelinsky, AO, said Dr Bhavi was an exceptional University of Newcastle graduate who was forging a strong future within the medical profession.

“It is wonderful to see Dr Bhavi’s passion and dedication to his field recognised in this way. The University community congratulates him on this fitting recognition.”

Newcastle City Council Lord Mayor, Cr Nuatali Nelmes, said Dr Bhavi was an inspiring young man with an incredible wealth of knowledge well beyond his years.

"His dedication to his profession sets a very high benchmark for any young and aspiring doctor or medical professional to work towards and I look forward to following his achievements throughout the rest of his career," Cr Nelmes said.

Dr Bhavi Ravindran Bachelor of Medicine 2018, Bachelor of Medical Science (Honours) 2017

Engineering Trailblazer

Engineering Trailblazer

Catherine Richards (B Eng (Civil) 2013, B Eng (Environmental) 2013) is an engineering trailblazer in a historically male-dominated industry. She is creating her mark in the world by working towards bridging the gap between science, business and policy making to ensure a sustainable future for humanity.

In recognition of her academic excellence, leadership potential and aspirations to make the world a better place, Catherine was one of only 15 awarded the John Monash Scholarship in 2016. She is currently undertaking a PhD in engineering at the University of Cambridge, focusing on resource sustainability of energy, water and land resources. Catherine has recently been named on Forbes’ prestigious 30 Under 30 Europe list for 2019.

Catherine Richards Bachelor of Engineering (Civil) 2013, Bachelor of Engineering (Environmental) 2013

At the Frontline

At the Frontline

Neima Candy (M Public Health, 2013) is a public health professional, whose work has impacted her community, country and the world. Neima was a leading force in the Red Cross’s response to the Ebola outbreak in Liberia, challenging gender roles and norms and inspiring future generations of Liberian women. Neima was at the frontline of fighting Ebola, and her leadership and commitment directly contributed to Liberia being declared Ebola free in 2015.

Neima has also contributed to Liberia’s Ministry of Health mandate in restoring Health Services through the implementation of the World Health Organisation’s Essential Package of Health Services.

Neima Candy, Master of Public Health 2013

Engineer honoured with John Booker Medal

Engineer and leader in the field of geotechnical rock mechanics, Associate Professor Anna Giacomini, has been honoured with a 2019 John Booker Medal for her exemplary contributions to science and engineering.

Awarded by the Australian Academy of Science, the John Booker Medal recognises outstanding research in engineering mechanics and related fields within engineering and applied mathematics disciplines.

Associate Professor Giacomini is widely renowned for her significant work innovating, promoting and improving safety in mining and civil environments susceptible to rock fall.

Working closely with the University’s Priority Research Centre for Geotechnical Science and Engineering and Newcastle Institute of Energy and Resources, Associate Professor Giacomini has made world-leading progress in the development of advanced methodologies to map rock fall hazard, and investigations into the efficiency of protection technologies to reduce the associated rock fall risk.

“Our team’s extensive research highlighted the significance of rock fall in New South Wales and the importance of the design of new generation low energy barriers, which I am happy to say are now used extensively for the protection of our major landscape corridors,” Associate Professor Giacomini said.

“I am absolutely delighted to receive this award, not only for myself but also for the team of amazing young researchers who have been working with me over the years. Professor John Booker was an expert in geo-mechanics so I am particularly honoured to receive an award bearing his name.”

Aside from her research, Associate Professor Giacomini is making her mark as a proud supporter of women in STEMM, having co-founded HunterWiSE, a Hunter-based school initiative designed to engage young women in the STEMM fields early in their education.

“One of the big challenges is to show women all around the world that STEMM careers are not just for men and that a more diverse team can deliver better solutions because they have different perspectives to contribute to solutions to problems,” Associate Professor Giacomini said.

“I have the opportunity every day to meet exceptional women who work in the STEMM fields, not only in academia but also in the industry. I think it’s important to pass the message on to the young generation of females that they can do it too.”

Associate Professor Giacomini is one of two recipients of the 2019 John Booker Medal, an achievement awarded to the University of Newcastle’s Professor Shanyong Wang in 2018.