2019 Excellence Awards celebrated

Wednesday, 11 December 2019

The University of Newcastle 2019 Excellence Awards were celebrated in the Great Hall at the Callaghan campus last night. The Excellence Awards are a celebration the outstanding achievements of individuals and teams from across the University.  The event was attended by many of the 157 finalists across 15 award categories.

The Great Hall for Excellence Awards

Along with a new name (these events were formerly the VC’s Awards for Excellence), new award categories were added to those previously awarded – being Student Experience; Leadership; Values; and Equity, Diversity and Inclusion.

The University’s Vice-Chancellor and President, Professor Alex Zelinsky AO said the awards belonged to the whole University community.

“These are your awards and tonight is a celebration of the outstanding work happening across our University,” the Vice-Chancellor said.

“Over the past twelve months I have had the privilege of witnessing the dedication, expertise, innovation and genuine enthusiasm that our academic and professional staff bring to the University.

“We all own the success of our institution and there is much for us all to be proud of.”

Congratulations to all winners on their outstanding achievements throughout 2019:

Engagement Excellence Awards

Community Engagement Excellence Award

Trisha Pender, Faculty of Education and Arts

Newcastle Acts to End Violence Against Women

Newcastle Acts to End Violence Against Women is a new University of Newcastle and community joint initiative designed to bring a worldwide United Nations campaign to our city raising awareness about violence against women and girls. Led by Associate Professor Patricia (Trisha) Pender, the campaign includes a program of events and partners with the City of Newcastle, the Port of Newcastle, the Newcastle Domestic Violence Committee, Hunter Women's Centre, ACON, Warlga Ngurra and NOVA Refuge for Women and Children, among many others.

Industry Engagement Excellence Award

Andrea Coda, Faculty of Health and Medicine

Innovative commercial patents and strategic international connections

Dr Andrea Coda has accomplished innovative commercial patents and strategic international connections with prestigious industry leaders, such as Vodafone, Abbott Pharmaceutical, CoBond and BitGemona. Andrea's engagement with the European Dementia Consortium led to submitting and securing the NHMRC 'Boosting Dementia Grant' worth $1,312,455. As the youngest international Conjoint Senior Lecturer for Manresa-Barcelona University in Spain, Andrea also designed and validated an innovative health-platform (www. interactiveclinics.com) currently available on Google Play and Apple Store.

Global Engagement Excellence Award

Elena Aydos, Faculty of Business and Law

Multiple projects in East Asia and Latin America

Dr Elena Aydos has facilitated a number of successful projects in East Asia and Latin America focused on environmental and climate change law. These include the internationalisation of Environmental Law curriculum, coordination of four student mobility programs in Japan and Brazil, a Memorandum of Understandings with the Universidade de Brasilia and Universidade Federal de Santa Catarina (UFSC), a Dual Award Doctoral Degree agreement between our University and UFSC, and adopting a contemporary approach to attracting international students via a successful interdisciplinary Massive Open Online Course.

Health, Safety and Wellbeing Award

Sex, Safety and Respect Team

Paula Convery, Astrid Gearin, Michelle Lampis, Deanna McCall, Jayne McCartney, Stuart Meldrum, Nisha Thapliyal, Chris Krogh, Amber Sauni, Jamie-Lee Costa, Gemma Edgar, Jen Elhindi, Liam Phelam

In recent years there has been an increase in awareness and calls to action to reduce sexual assault and harassment on university campuses in Australia. One response at our University has been to adopt an evidence-based accredited workshop program called Sex, Safety and Respect. A team of professional and academic staff completed an intensive training and accreditation process in late- 2018 and a working party was subsequently formed to review the training and guide the roll-out of Sex, Safety and Respect workshops. It is estimated 300 students will complete the program in 2019, with a comprehensive plan to broaden the reach in 2020 and beyond.

Professional Staff Excellence Awards

Rising Star Award

Louis Ndagijimana, Centre of Excellence for Equity in Higher Education

Creating spaces of belonging for students from refugee backgrounds

Louis' work creates spaces of belonging for students from refugee backgrounds through a program of events, drop-in spaces and community engagement that includes students, staff and members of the community. The program draws on insights from Louis' own experiences of commencing university in Australia, his ongoing research, and his extensive community networks. His thoughtful approach to relationship development has supported lasting connections with our communities.

Individual Award

Gillian Shaw, Academic Division, Art Curator for University Galleries and Museum

As Art Curator for our galleries and museum, Gillean champions the role our University has in developing successful collaborations that support our community. 2019 saw a major shift towards student engagement, not only through an extensive exhibitions program, but also by offering our students a diverse range of opportunities for ongoing, informal Work Integrated Learning, as well as real-world industry experience through internships and studio-based outcomes that have our students delivering to public projects.

Team Award

SABE Professional Staff Team: Taona Afful, Joanne Connor, Jedda Cranfield, Andrew Dunne, Sara Gill, Mary Kazembe, Narelle Martinez, Carrol Wood

The School of Architecture and Built Environment (SABE) team developed and implemented a project with three innovative, interrelated initiatives: the Staff Onboarding Process, Teaching Academic Journey Map, and SABE SharePoint site, resulting in significant tangible and intangible benefits. The initiatives ultimately enrich the staff experience, through creating an inclusive and belonging culture and significantly streamlining processes saving time and resources. These successful SABE initiatives are considered best practice models, and have been adopted across other areas of our University.

Teaching Excellence Awards

Sessional Academic Teaching Award

Annika Herb, Faculty of Education and Arts, School of Humanities and Social Science

Dr Annika Herb has made significant contributions to our University through her work in the development and design of innovative teaching technologies in the delivery of core course HASS1000: BA Futures for the BA Online. As an early educator on the new platform, Annika's work has been essential to the development and success of the BA Online; she has further demonstrated this in developing a guide and workshops on retention for staff based on her experience.

Teaching Award

Paul Hodge, Faculty of Science, School of Environmental and Life Sciences

Dr Paul Hodge has developed the lndigenisation of his teaching beyond content or field trip experiences to an exemplar of deep lndigenisation. Paul's work develops student awareness, understanding and sensitivity to Indigenous knowledges in courses from first to third year. His teaching inspires and empowers students to work with Indigenous collaborators, during their studies and in their future careers, by drawing on best-practice lndigenisation involving nurturing relationships with Indigenous collaborators and between students.

Student Experience Excellence Award

Student Living Support Team

Carl Anderson, Tim Roberts, Rachael McDermott, Jamie-Lee Costa, Gemma Edgar, Jade Hartigan, Lauren Miles

In 2019, the Student Living Support Team significantly enhanced the student experience by introducing key principles of Restorative Practice for managing behavioural concerns and incidents. Working alongside the Office of the Deputy Vice Chancellor and Student Advocates in particular, this framework has led to more collaborative relationships across our University and had an immensely positive impact on students going through a student conduct process. The Student Living Team has experienced tremendous unity, clarity and support in ensuring staff, and in particular, students, are aware of the behavioural expectations of living within our residential community.

Research Excellence Awards

Early Career Researcher Award

Emma Beckett, Faculty of Science, School of Environmental and Life Sciences

Dr Emma Beckett is a standout example of an Early Career Researcher whose contribution to nutritional science (molecular nutrition) exceeds what would be expected of someone so early in their career. This is evidenced by publication output, grant funding income, international and domestic collaborations, and student supervision and mentorship. Emma is also an internationally recognised science communicator online, in print, on national radio and social media.

Research Supervision Award

Bobae Choi and Doowon Lee, Faculty of Business and Law

Dr Bobae Choi and Dr Doowon Lee have developed a three-step approach for becoming an independent and motivated researcher. The team has developed a supervision structure which encourages self directed research by the Higher Degree by Research candidates under their supervision. By implementing a seamless reporting-feedback-action process and promoting peer-assisted learning since 2015, the team has successfully fostered 12 HDR graduates who have become academics or work in the industry around the world.

Leadership Excellence Award

Michael Robertson, Faculty of Education and Arts

iLead mentor, Athena SWAN, Ally Network member, contribution to FEDUA

Through his personable style, drive and integrity, Michael Robertson exemplifies the key values and qualities expected of a senior leader. His immense influence and contribution to the FEDUA team and greater University culture is demonstrated in his passion and commitment to education, equity and a positive future for our University. An ilead mentor, Athena SWAN and Ally Network member and outstanding team leader, Michael exhibits a level of commitment and undertaking uncommon to most; a true embodiment of leadership excellence.

Values Award

Veronica Pettifer, Resources Division, IT Services

As a long-serving employee of our University, Veronica Pettifer has made an exceptional contribution to professional service. Veronica provides the same level of care and attention whether it be for the Vice-Chancellor or for an admin officer. She remains calm and objective while supporting staff through very challenging, stressful times when the technology they rely on so heavily to perform their roles fails. Veronica is highly respected and approaches her work with a thorough, caring, professional attitude and is meticulous in her attention to detail and commitment to solving problems.

Equity, Diversity and Inclusion Award

HunterWiSE Team: Elena Prieto-Rodriguez, Regina Beretta, Karen Blackmore, Anna Giocomini, Sarah Johnson, Juanita Todd, Erica Wanless

Created in 2017 by a group of female academics at our University, and using a complex nested strategy, Hunter Women in STEM and Entrepreneurship (HunterWiSE) is improving participation and engagement of high school girls in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) activities, with the aim to boost the number of girls undertaking high school and tertiary STEM courses, and increase the number of women pursuing and succeeding in STEM careers. Membership in the network has grown to more than 200 in 2019 and the number of HunterWiSE network events has grown from three in 2017 to nine in 2019, providing valuable networking opportunities and industry linkages for HOR and undergraduate students. The academics behind HunterWiSE have leveraged their strong industry relationships to secure financial and in-kind support from key stakeholders, growing to 12 sponsors in 2019.

Congratulations to all winners and finalists.

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