University of Newcastle 2019 Alumni Award recipients announced

University of Newcastle 2019 Alumni Award recipients announced

On Thursday 5 September, at a breakfast gala held in the University of Newcastle’s Great Hall at Callaghan campus, the 2019 Alumni Award recipients were announced.

The University of Newcastle’s prestigious Alumni Awards celebrates the boundless achievements of the universities outstanding alumni from around the world.

Twenty-five awards across nine categories were handed out on the day, including Exceptional Community Service, Young Alumni and the Indigenous Alumni award.

Public health physician Ruth Lopert received the University of Newcastle’s 2019 Alumni Medal for professional excellence and her dedication to global health and pharmaceutical policy.

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, pharmacoeconomic, teacher, researcher, and independent consultant in global health, Ruth 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.

Ruth 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.

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,” Rebecca 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 Awards Achievers full list can be found below…

Alumni Medal for Professional Excellence Achievers

  • Dr Ruth Lopert – Consultant, LWC Health. M Medical Science (Clinical Epidemiology) 2001; B Medicine 1995.
  • Steven McArthur – Scientific Director, Genea. B Science 1993.
  • Liesl Tesch – Member for Gosford, NSW Legislative Assembly. Grad Dip Education 1996; B Science 1991.

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.
  • Rosemarie Milsom – Director, Newcastle Writer’s Festival. Grad Dip Education 1995; B Arts 1994.
  • Nick Mitzevich – Director, National Gallery of Australia. Grad Dip Education 1995; Grad Dip Art 1993; B Visual Arts 1992.

Beryl Nashar Young Researcher Award Achievers

  • Dr Serene Yoong – ARC DECRA Fellow, University of Newcastle. PhD Behavioural Science 2014; B Nutrition & Dietetics 2009.
  • Dr Georgina Ramsey – Assistant Professor, University of Delaware. PhD Sociology & Anthropology 2016; B Science Hons 2011.


  • 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.

International Leadership Award Achievers

  • Sherrill Whittington – Senior Consultant, UNDP/LEAP IPU. Dip Education 1970; B Arts 1969.
  • Dr Isiye Ndombi – Consultant, the Resina Group. MBA 2009.

National Leadership Award Achievers

  • Tandin Wangmo – CEO / Executive Director, RENEW. M Educational Studies 2010; Grad Cert Educational Studies 2010.
  • Noni Purnomo – CEO, Blue Bird Group. B Engineering 1995.
  • Dr Eileen Doyle – Company Director, Board Member, various. PhD Mathematics 1986; M Mathematics 1980; B Mathematics 1977.

Regional Leadership Award Achievers

  • Dr Kirsten Molloy – CEO, HVCCC. PhD Chemistry 1998; B Science Hons 1993.
  • Graeme Irwin – Principal, St Philip Christian College. Dip Teaching 1982.

Indigenous Alumni Award Achievers

  • Dr James Charles – Associate Professor, Deakin University. PhD 2017.
  • Dr Mark Wenitong – Public Health Medical Advisor, Apunipima Cape York Health Council. B Medicine 1994.
  • Luke Pearson – Director of IndigenousX. B Teaching 2004, B Arts 2004.

Exceptional Community Service Award Achievers

  • Philip Sketchley – Music Educator. B Education 1988.
  • Lee Shearer APM – Managing Director, Lee Shearer & Associates. UON Open Foundation Student.
  • Renee Bianchi – Barrister, 13th Floor St James Hall Chambers. B Law 2007, Dip Legal Practice 2007; B Biomedical Science Hons 2004.

Young Alumni Award Achievers

  • Brendan Swansborough – Group Account Director, Enigma. B Business 2008; B Economics 2008
  • Jessie Porteus – Founding Director, The Learned Crew. B Law 2011, Dip Legal Practice 2011; B Economics 2009.
  • Dr Vivak (Bhavi) Ravindran – Junior Medical Officer (Doctor). B Medicine 2018; B Medical Science Hons 2017.

Since 1975, the annual University of Newcastle Alumni Awards have celebrated the most outstanding and high achieving of our alumni, recognising alumni who have significantly contributed to their communities and professions. We congratulate all winners on their achievement.

IMAGE | University of Newcastle Alumni Award achievers for 2019

University of Newcastle

The University of Newcastle is ranked in the top 3% of universities in the world according to two global independent ranking systems, and in the top 200 universities in the world for medicine. 

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