Recipients of the 2023 University of Newcastle Alumni Excellence Awards were recognised at the annual celebration earlier this month to celebrate their accomplishments in exceptional leadership, innovation, and outstanding community contributions.
Eleven recipients from various backgrounds and disciplines received awards to recognise their achievements, including leading international nutritional health work, pioneering astronomical research, and taking the international country music stage by storm.
Vice-Chancellor, Professor Alex Zelinsky AO said the Alumni Excellence Awards celebrated and honoured members of our alumni community who have positively contributed to their local, national, and international communities.
“More than 171,000 graduates across 153 countries create our University’s inspiring alumni network, and these awards were an opportunity to shine a light on diverse and dynamic leaders who have made a profound impact in their fields,” Alex said.
“From international business leaders and music industry celebrities to research pioneers and human rights advocates, it was an honour to welcome a group of outstanding alumni from across the globe back to Newcastle last night.
“Last night’s Alumni Excellence Awards also gave us the chance to celebrate local heroes like Mark and Kirralee Hughes, who have made an exceptional contribution to our community and have generated millions in funds for brain cancer research through the Mark Hughes Foundation. They remind us that even in the face of adversity, the greatest challenges can be met with hope and strength.
“With many high school students across the state starting their HSC exams this week, the remarkable stories and far-reaching impact of our alumni recipients are an inspiring reminder of what can be achieved with a University of Newcastle degree.”
With a research performance in the top 1% of the world’s most cited scientists in her field of research, and with more than four decades of experience, Laureate Professor Collins is internationally renowned for her expertise and walked away with the Alumni Medal for Professional Excellence.
Leading a global team of research dietitians, she pioneered the development of personalised food and nutrition eHealth tools, revolutionising eating habits and diet-related health across diverse life stages and chronic conditions.
Laureate Professor Collins obtained a Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) in Medicine and Health Science and a Graduate Diploma (GD) in Clinical Epidemiology at the University of Newcastle, and she credits her family upbringing and perseverance as a major factor in getting where she is today.
“I’m very proud to say I’m the second dietitian ever to get a PhD from the University of Newcastle. My family upbringing really did influence my whole career journey, even though I didn’t know it at the time,” Professor Collins said.
“I’m fortunate to have had an education; things are different today. I see that with my children, but I still think those essential elements are true – move forward and pay it forward.”
Visiting from Berlin, Senior Vice President and Head of Europe Audible Matthew Gain attended the Awards Dinner and received the International Leadership Award lauding the University of Newcastle for shaping his career in many ways.
“The University of Newcastle is a very egalitarian place and I think that’s been a great bedrock to grow my international career,” Matthew said.
“The lack of ego has really set me up for coming into rooms recognising that I’m no better or worse than anybody else in that room. That approach has made a big difference in integrating into various cultures all over the world.”
As the first Indigenous person to achieve a dual degree in mathematics and science from the University of Newcastle, Gamilaroi woman Karlie Noon received the Indigenous Alumni Award for her work exploring how the traditional wisdom can support modern science to further our understanding of the world around us.
As a 3M Eureka Prize recipient, Karlie champions diversity in STEM and advocates for underrepresented voices.
“The skills I learned from the University of Newcastle have allowed me to get this far. They showed me that anyone can do what they want – your background doesn’t matter,” Karlie said.
“Considering that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander People all have the oldest continuous culture that we know of, there is a lot of atmospherical and physical accuracy embedded within our stories and culture.”
The Alumni Excellence Awards were held in the Great Hall at the University of Newcastle on Thursday 12 October. More information on all the recipients of the 2023 Alumni Excellence Awards can be found on the University of Newcastle website.
IMAGE | Professor Getnet Tadele, Laureate Professor Clare Collins AO, Steve Adamthwaite, Dr Alice Grady, Dr Aaron Wong, University of Newcastle Vice-Chancellor Professor Alex Zelinsky AO, Dr Nicole Nathan, and Matthew Gain (Left-Right).