2019 Alumni Award Recipients Announced
Public health physician Ruth Lopert has received the University of Newcastle’s 2019 Alumni Medal for professional excellence and her dedication to global health and pharmaceutical policy.
Dr Lopert was presented with the award at the 2019 Alumni Awards Gala Breakfast on Thursday 5 September in the University’s Great Hall at Callaghan campus. Twenty-five awards across nine categories were handed out on the day, including Exceptional Community Service, Young Alumni and the Indigenous Alumni award.
The Alumni Medal recognises outstanding excellence in leadership, knowledge and professional practice and is the highest honour of the University’s Alumni Awards.
As a physician, pharmacoeconomist, teacher, researcher, and independent consultant in global health, Dr Lopert has continued to thrive on a global scale after her studies.
She graduated from the University of Newcastle with a Bachelor of Medicine in 1995 and a Masters in Medical Science (Clinical Epidemiology) in 2001.
Since then, Dr Lopert was appointed the chief medical officer in the Therapeutic Goods Administration (the Australian drug and therapeutics regulatory agency) from 2008 to 2011, and Chair of the National Drugs and 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.
Dr Lopert has become an important voice in public health, where she advocates for fair economic competition and equitable access to medicines and vaccines.
Her expertise at the intersections of pharmaceuticals and economics has informed national policy in Japan, the United States and Canada.
National Gallery of Australia Director Nick Mitzevich was awarded the Newton-John Award at the Gala Breakfast.
The Newton-John Award recognises innovation and creativity of alumni who have achieved excellence in arts, creative sectors and culture.
Mr Mitzevich completed at Bachelor of Arts in 1992, a Graduate Diploma of Art in 1993 and a Graduate Diploma of Education in 1995 at the University.
He has gone on to become one of Australia's leading arts curator and has made major contributions to Australia’s cultural life.
During his 20-year career in the museum and art gallery sector in Newcastle, Queensland, South Australia and Canberra, Mr Mitzevich has overseen bold gallery revitalisation projects, hosted blockbuster collections, and curated prestigious public events, such as Dark Heart - the 2014 Adelaide Biennale.
With his embrace of Indigenous and female artists, Nick can tell the story of Australian art with energy and authenticity.
University of Newcastle’s Director of Advancement Rebecca Hazell said all of the Alumni Award Achievers were outstanding.
“The Alumni Medal and the Newton-John Award are the two most historically significant excellence awards and speak to the 44-year history of the University’s prestigious Alumni Awards,” Ms Hazell said.
“This year, we are honoured to recognise the expertise of six outstanding alumni across these two awards including the recipients, Dr Ruth Lopert and Nick Mitzevich, for their outstanding impact and contribution to society at large.
“From advocacy in global healthcare, to revitalising the nation’s art institutions, both Ruth and Nick showcase the immense achievements of our alumni worldwide and demonstrate how far a University of Newcastle education can take you.”
University of Newcastle’s 2019 Alumni Medal and Newton-John Award recipients
Alumni Medal for Professional Excellence. Dr Ruth Lopert – Consultant, LWC Health. M Medical Science (Clinical Epidemiology) 2001; B Medicine 1995. Dr Ruth Lopert is a public health physician and independent consultant in global health, pharmaceutical policy and health technology assessment.
Newton-John Award: for innovation and creativity in arts, creative sectors and culture. Nick Mitzevich – Director, National Gallery of Australia. Grad Dip Education 1995; Grad Dip Art 1993; B Visual Arts 1992. As Australia's leading arts curator, Nick Mitzevich has made major contributions to Australia’s cultural life.
University of Newcastle’s 2019 Alumni Awards Achievers full list
Alumni Medal for Professional Excellence Achievers
Dr Ruth Lopert – Consultant, LWC Health. M Medical Science (Clinical Epidemiology) 2001; B Medicine 1995. Dr Ruth Lopert is a public health physician and independent consultant in global health, pharmaceutical policy and health technology assessment.
Steven McArthur – Scientific Director, Genea. B Science 1993. As the Scientific Director at Genea, he has made a major impact in the world of fertility. His innovations have contributed to the doubling of successful IVF procedures since the 1990s.
Liesl Tesch – Member for Gosford, NSW Legislative Assembly. Grad Dip Education 1996; B Science 1991. Liesl Tesh AM is a Member of Parliament, Paralympian and Australian sporting ambassador.
Newton-John Award Achievers: for innovation and creativity in arts, creative sectors and culture
Gavin Langley – Senior Associate at Gehry Partners, B Architecture 1992; B Architecture Design 1988. Gavin Langley is a seasoned architect who has worked across the world, bringing the elements of design and sustainability to everything he has accomplished in the past 30 years.
Rosemarie Milsom – Director, Newcastle Writer's Festival. Grad Dip Education 1995; B Arts 1994. In 2012, Rosemarie Milsom, who was then working as a full-time journalist at the Newcastle Herald created and launched the inaugural Newcastle Writers Festival, the largest cultural event in the Hunter.
Nick Mitzevich – Director, National Gallery of Australia. Grad Dip Education 1995; Grad Dip Art 1993; B Visual Arts 1992. As Australia's leading arts curator, Nick Mitzevich has made major contributions to Australia’s cultural life.
Beryl Nashar Young Researcher Award Achievers
Dr Serene Yoong - ARC DECRA Fellow, University of Newcastle. PhD Behavioural Science 2014; B Nutrition & Dietetics 2009. Dr Serene Yoong is an award winning scientist who has developed an outstanding research track record and established a national and international reputation as an expert implementation scientist in the field of non-communicable disease prevention.
Dr Georgina Ramsay - Assistant Professor, University of Delaware. PhD Sociology & Anthropology 2016; B Science Hons 2011. Dr Georgina Ramsay’s work and research has had significant global impact and has emerged as a leading critical voice regarding current issues of displacement, humanitarianism, and the global refugee regime.
Dr Emma Beckett - Nutritionist Researcher, University of Newcastle. PhD Food Science 2016; M Science Mgt 2011; Grad Dip Clinical Epidemiology 2010; B Biomedical Science Hons 2007. Dr Emma Beckett is a National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) Early Career Fellow at The University of Newcastle. Her research area is in the field of molecular nutrition focusing on gene-nutrient-environment interactions.
International Leadership Award Achievers
Sherrill Whittington - Senior Consultant, UNDP/LEAP IPU. Dip Education 1970; B Arts 1969. Sherrill Whittington is an expert with more than 25 years of international experience in women’s leadership and governance, particularly in post-conflict and developing environments.
Dr Isiye Ndombi - Consultant, the Resina Group. MBA 2009. Dr Isiye Ndombi is an internationally-recognised health development and social policy expert; a leader with more than 25 years of international work in 20-plus countries.
National Leadership Award Achievers
Tandin Wangmo - CEO / Executive Director, RENEW. M Educational Studies 2010; Grad Cert Educational Studies 2010. Tandin Wangmo is CEO of the Bhutanese non-profit RENEW - Respect, Educate, Nurture, Empower Women - which works with families affected by domestic and gender-based violence (DV/GBV) and is the only Civil Society of its kind in Bhutan.
Noni Purnomo - CEO, Blue Bird Group. B Engineering 1995. Noni Sri Ayati Purnomo is a highly-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.
Dr Eileen Doyle - Company Director, Board Member, various. PhD Mathematics 1986; M Mathematics 1980; B Mathematics 1977. With an exceptional career spanning more than three decades, Dr Eileen Doyle has led large corporations in executive roles, several Non-Executive Director roles and as Chairperson.
Regional Leadership Award Achievers
Dr Kirsten Molloy - CEO, HVCCC. PhD Chemistry 1998; B Science Hons 1993. As CEO of the Hunter Valley Coal Chain Coordinator, Kirsten Molloy leads the coordination of a globallysignificant supply chain for a $23 billion industry.
Graeme Irwin - Principal, St Philip Christian College. Dip Teaching 1982. Graeme Irwin has been a pioneer, developer and a leader in quality and affordable education in the Hunter region for more than thirty years and has responsibility for more than 4000 students and 600 staff across six schools throughout the region.
Indigenous Alumni Award Achievers
Dr James Charles - Associate Professor, Deakin University. PhD 2017. As a proud Kaurna man from the Adelaide Plains, Dr James Charles is leading the way in the world of podiatry and Indigenous health.
Dr Mark Wenitong - Public Health Medical Advisor, Apunipima Cape York Health Council. B Medicine 1994. As one of the first Indigenous medicine graduates in Australia in 1994, Dr Mark Wenitong completed his medical studies as a mature-age student and proceeded to join World Vision and work in Central Australia where he encountered some of the harshest health challenges.
Luke Pearson - Director of IndigenousX. B Teaching 2004, B Arts 2004. Luke Pearson is a Gamilaroi man, teacher, public speaker, and trainer and Founder of @IndigenousX, which uses the alternative media space and unique characteristics of the Internet to renegotiate the representation of Indigenous voices.
Exceptional Community Service Award Achievers
Philip Sketchley - Music Educator. B Education 1988. Philip Sketchley has been an integral part of the Hunter region’s music community with more than 50 years of service as a teacher, pianist, fundraiser, conductor, accompanist and musical director.
Lee Shearer APM – Managing Director, Lee Shearer & Associates. UON Open Foundation Student. As an exceptional leader across sectors, Lee Shearer’s work has greatly impacted our region in her various roles, delivering strong tangible outcomes for communities.
Renee Bianchi - Barrister, 13th Floor St James Hall Chambers. B Law 2007, Dip Legal Practice 2007; B Biomedical Science Hons 2004. Renée Bianchi’s exemplary record of voluntary community service within and outside the legal profession has enhanced the reputation of the University through volunteering, mentorship and leadership for both the law profession and for the greater community.
Young Alumni Award Achievers
Brendan Swansborough – Group Account Director, Enigma. B Business 2008; B Economics 2008. Led two Super Bowl advertising campaigns.
Jessie Porteus – Founding Director, The Learned Crew. B Law 2011, Dip Legal Practice 2011; B Economics 2009. Jessie Porteus launched an innovative legal training business, writes a successful legal blog and is the in-house legal counsel at an ASX top 100 listed company.
Dr Vivak (Bhavi) Ravindran – Junior Medical Officer (Doctor). B Medicine 2018; B Medical Science Hons 2017. Dr Ravindran was the convenor of the 2016 Global Health Conference, which attracted more than 850 medical students to Newcastle and injected more than $1 million into the local economy.
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