Six women professors at the University of Sydney have been recognised in this year’s national honours program for their outstanding contributions to higher education.
Philanthropist Kay Van Norton Poche, who funded the Poche Centre for Indigenous Health at the University of Sydney together with Greg Poche AO and Reg Richardson AM, was also awarded an Officer in the General Division (AO).
Awarded twice a year on Australia Day and the Queen’s Birthday, the Order of Australia is unique to other honours in that it was designed for the community to make nominations.
Vice-Chancellor and Principal of the University of Sydney Dr Michael Spenceextended his congratulations to the professors – and all of the University’s community that received awards this year.
“We are delighted that these tremendously talented women have been recognised and valued for their influential work,” said Dr Spence.
“We have to shift the dial in public recognition of the extraordinary contribution of Australian women, and in the opportunities open to them.”
Professor Katherine Belov AO
Over the past 15 years, Professor Belov has led the Australiasian Wildlife Genomics Group at the University of Sydney. More than 60 students and postdocs have worked in the lab under Professor Belov’s leadership.
“This award is clear recognition of the tireless work that they have invested in conserving some of Australia’s most endangered native animals,” said Professor Belov, who also leads the University’s global engagement strategy as Pro Vice-Chancellor (Global Engagement).
The team have begun conducting genetic rescue of Tasmanian devils in the wild and have halted the extinction vortex that they entered. Rather than fearing that Tasmanian devils would go extinct, Australia is now hopeful about the species’ future, thanks to Professor Belov’s work.
Last year Professor Belov led a team of Australian and international scientists to complete the world-first full sequencing of the koala genome. They have recently launched a crowdfunding campaign to sequence 50 genomes of threatened Australian species in 5 years, called 50 in 5.
Professor Rae Cooper AO
"I'm really thrilled and a little shocked to be acknowledged in the honours list," said Professor Cooper.
"I'm privileged to be able to do this work at an institution like the University of Sydney with so many brilliant colleagues and students."
Co-Director of the Women, Work & Leadership Research Group, Professor Cooper is a leading researcher on the world of work, particularly in gender and work, women’s careers and flexible employment. She is also Associate Dean (Programs) at the University of Sydney Business School.
"Working on important social and economic questions - like how we can achieve gender equality at work - is my passion," Professor Cooper added.
In addition to her academic roles, Professor Cooper been a non-Executive Director on several boards of public sector businesses and NGOs including three years as Chair of the Board of Directors of Australian Hearing and three years as a NED for the NSW TAFE Commission.
She has played a leadership role in organisations in the women’s policy area including previously being Chair of both the NSW Premiers Expert Advisory Council on Women and the NSW Working Women’s Centre.
Professor Elizabeth Martin AO
Professor Martin currently holds appointments as Chair for Tooth Conservation, and Coordinator for Clinical activities for the Doctor of Dental Medicine program (DMD) year three and four students across three metropolitan sites (Westmead Centre for Oral Health, Sydney Dental Hospital and Nepean).
“I am very humbled to receive this award and would like to dedicate it to my colleagues and all the part time staff who so generously contribute their experience to advance our students’ education," said Professor Martin.
She is a Research Fellow at the Institute of Dental Research, an examiner of overseas trained dentists for the Australian Dental Council, a member of Council of the Royal Australasian College of Dental Surgeons, a member of the accreditation team for the Australian Dental Council and is consulted as a key opinion leader in dental materials.
Professor Mary Chiarella AM
Professor of Nursing at Sydney Nursing School, Professor Chiarella is an internationally recognised nurse leader with a distinguished career in nursing services.
She established the world’s first professional doctorate in midwifery (Doctor of Midwifery) at UTS, which has been completed by many of Australia’s and New Zealand’s current midwifery leaders.
During her time as Chair of the Australian Nursing and Midwifery Council, she led the regulatory negotiations for nurses and midwives within the new national registration scheme.
Professor Carolyn Sue AM
She is an international expert in mitochondrial disease and movement disorders. Her research focuses on understanding the role of mitochondrial function in neurodegeneration, especially the disease processes involved in mitochondrial disorders, Parkinson's disease and other movement disorders
Professor Sue is currently the Director of Neurogenetics at Royal North Shore Hospital and the Director of the Kolling Institute, University of Sydney.
Professor Hala Zreiqat AM
Director of the ARC Training Centre for Innovative BioEngineering, Professor Zreiqat was last year named the NSW Premier’s Woman of the Year. She actively supports young women seeking careers in medicine, engineering and technology, particularly those women who come from disadvantaged backgrounds.
“I am deeply humbled to receive this honour along with so many influential women,” said Professor Zreiqat.
In 2006 she founded the Biomaterials and Tissue Engineering Research Unit at the University of Sydney. Pioneering the invention of new biomaterials and biomedical devices, the unit’s work is giving Australia a place at the table in the highly competitive global orthopaedic market.
A trailblazer in her commitment to championing opportunities for women and dedicated to improving recognition for women around the world, Professor Zreiqat was also awarded the prestigious Radcliffe Institute Summer Fellowship at Harvard University (June/July 2019).
Emeritus Professor Leo Radom AC
For eminent service to science, particularly to computational chemistry, as an academic, author and mentor, and to international scientific bodies, Emeritus Professor Leo Radom was awarded a Companion in the General Division: the highest degree in service to Australia.
“I feel very honoured to be receiving this honour, which also recognises the contributions made by the outstanding students, postdocs and senior associates with whom I have been fortunate to be associated during my scientific career,” said Emeritus Professor Radom.
Rather than using traditional laboratory-based techniques, Emeritus Professor Radom from the University of Sydney School of Chemistry studies molecules and their reactions by computer calculations. His computational quantum chemistry approach can describe and predict the structures of molecules and the mechanisms of chemical reactions.
Emeritus Professor Radom holds eminent positions in the community as a Fellow of the Australian Academy of Science, the Royal Society of Chemistry (UK), the Royal Society of NSW and Distinguished Fellow of the Royal Australian Chemical Institute. He has also been prominently involved in major international organisations in his field, including being a Past President of the World Association of Theoretical and Computational Chemists and the current President of the Asia-Pacific Association of Theoretical and Computational Chemists.
Professor David Burke AC
Clinical neurophysiologist Professor David Burke received a Companion in the General Division for eminent service to neurophysiology, to innovative treatments for spinal cord and brain trauma injuries, and to professional medical organisations.
Professor Burke is currently Professor of Neurology at Royal Prince Alfred Hospital and Sydney Medical School at the University of Sydney. Previously he has held a personal Chair of Clinical Neurophysiology (awarded 1987) and a Chair of Neurology (from 1991) at the University of New South Wales.
In 2002 he joined the University of Sydney as Dean of Research for the former College of Health Sciences and served intermittently as Acting Pro-Vice Chancellor.