Outstanding Alumnus of the Year
Captain Jan Becker
Bachelor of Nursing Science: Graduate Entry 2009
USC nursing graduate Capt. Jan Becker is well known and respected in the aviation industry as CEO of Becker Helicopters Group — the Southern Hemisphere’s largest helicopter flight academy. She is a commercial helicopter pilot and board member of Helicopter International Association based in Washington DC.
Her drive, vision and business acumen have been recognised with multiple honours, including the 2014 Telstra Queensland Business Women’s Owner Award and the 2013 Telstra Australian Medium Business Award.
“It’s both exhilarating and exhausting, yet I can’t escape the sheer enormity of the responsibility I think we all have as global citizens. Inspired by the United Nations Sustainable Development goals, it’s a privilege to have a successful business that allows me to create and expand in this “giving back space”. As a midwife, I felt I had a skill set that could make a difference - to change the face of a woman’s life by saying, ‘you are not invisible, I see you and you are not forgotten’”.
Jan is also Chair of the Cherish Foundation, supporting gynaecological cancer research, and is a board member of the Prince Charles Hospital Foundation.
Alumnus of the Year, Rising Star
Bachelor of Nutrition and Dietetics 2013
After graduating from USC, Megan researched locations that were underserviced in her field and chose Gladstone to establish herself as the only ‘practising private dietitian’ in the region when the new Gladstone GP Super Clinic opened its doors.
Over the past four years, Megan’s clinic has grown from one day a week to a full-time practice employing two other nutrition and dietetics professionals. Not only has Megan's clinical care setting broadened, she has also accepted government, corporate and community contracts for QLD Health, Gladstone Ports Corporation, Gladstone Regional Council and Headspace Gladstone.
Using innovative ideas to adapt and grow her practice and professional work in the changeable local mining industry, Megan has produced a range of online services at low cost for her clientele, including online consultations, meal plans, and recipe books, which provide a viable alternative to face-to-face consultations.
In 2016 Megan was awarded “Young Business Leader Under 30 Years Old” at the Gladstone Observer’s Best in Business Awards. This award recognises individuals who go above and beyond their business obligations to serve their local community, whilst demonstrating business innovation in an ever-changing environment.
Alumnus of the Year, Regional Achievement
Bachelor of Science (Environmental Science) 2004
Since graduating at USC in 2004, marine scientist Mathew Davis has worked in the world of environmental management, especially water quality monitoring, mostly in South East Queensland and beyond. In 2013 Mathew founded Australian Coastal and Marine Ecology (ACME) and has lead his team of qualified environmental professionals on a multitude of infrastructure projects, including a 7-year contract on the Moreton Bay Rail Link Project for the Department and Transport and Main Roads.
In 2017, Mathew won the Unitywater Moreton Bay Showcase Award for innovative education programs and fundraising efforts for important environmental projects under another company he founded, Coastal Protection Core. Some of these impacts include donating the equivalent of 140 days of education to disadvantaged children in Zimbabwe, 33,000 days of clean water to families in Cambodia, and 15,072 horticultural training sessions to children in India.
"We can all make a difference, but through educating our future generations about our most challenging environmental issues, and inspiring them to develop solutions, we can truly make a lasting impact".
Outstanding Alumnus of the Year
Bachelor of Arts/Bachelor of Business 2003
Executive Director, Facilities Management, Khidmah, Abu Dhabi
Not long after completing his studies, Ryan secured a job with Jones Lang LaSalle in Sydney as a Facilities Administrator. He was quickly promoted to Facilities Manager, taking on extra leadership assignments with clients such as Coca Cola Amatil, Deutsche Bank and Morgan Stanley. During this time, Ryan won several corporate awards, completed the Jones Lang LaSalle ‘Leaders of the Future Program’ and received his industry accreditation as a Facilities Manager.
In 2008 Ryan accepted a role as Senior Manager, Facilities Management, with a new property company setup by one of the ruling families in Abu Dhabi. Despite challenges during the global financial crisis, Ryan continued to grow the internal capabilities of the 130 staff under his leadership and received the Middle East Young Facilities Manager of the Year Award. In 2010 Ryan accepted a similar role with a newly formed property services company, Khidmah, in Abu Dhabi. Joining the team with less than 200 staff, Ryan worked to not only lay the foundations in service delivery, but also to innovate and differentiate the business to diversify away from the founding customer base. Ryan is now the Executive Director, Facilities Management at Khidmah, growing the division to 4,000 staff, and representing over 80% of company revenue. His team has also received multiple awards under his leadership, including 10 Middle East FM Awards in the last 5 years judged by global industry experts. Ryan is responsible for Operations, Procurement, Health & Safety, Sustainability and Project Management with services across the entire United Arab Emirates and the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. He has also led many corporate social responsibility programs, including National Clean Up UAE events, first aid training for all Khidmah staff, and internship programs to encourage Emiratis to enter the field. Ryan also advises on industry panels, writing industry articles, presenting at international conferences, and is one of the first US trained teachers to deliver training based out of UAE and accredited by the International Facilities Management Association.
In 2013 and 2014, Facilities Management Magazine listed Ryan as number 8 and number 10 in the top ‘Power 50’ of the Facilities Management Industry in the Middle East. Ryan continues to set new standards across a diverse list of properties that includes residential, commercial, retail, government infrastructure and more than 300 mosques.
Alumnus of the Year, Regional Achievement
Bachelor of Communication 2006
Online Presenter, 7 News Queensland
In 2005 Katie Toney (nee Blowers) began her journalism career with the 7 Network as a USC student intern. By the end of her final exams, she was employed as a cadet reporter in a full time role at the Bundaberg bureau. Over the last 10 years, Katie has reported on a variety of hard hitting and feature stories such as the Jayant Patel scandal, Daniel Morcombe’s murder, floods and cyclones.
In 2015, Katie stepped up to the anchor chair as the fill-in newsreader over summer. Management were so impressed they created a new position, Online Presenter, giving her the opportunity to front the network’s social media push. 7 Queensland General Manager Ben Roberts-Smith handpicked Katie for the role after seeing her dedication to the company and ongoing advancement into ‘new age’ media platforms. Recently starting a brand new news service, Katie single-handedly researches, writes and presents a daily online bulletin dedicated to highlighting stories from regional Queensland.
In 2013 Katie won a Queensland Multi Media Award for her work covering Daniel Morcombe’s murder case and funeral. Katie has also researched, written, and presented documentaries on the Gympie Music Muster, Sunshine Coast Surf Clubs, and a tourism special that ran state wide to promote the Sunshine Coast.
Katie contributes to the profession in many ways, most notably by her support of the USC internship program. She is also a mentor to many young reporters, particularly young women, who start their careers at 7 Local News and is a leading example of balancing a career with a family, being a mother of two. As a farmer’s daughter from Gympie, Katie has a passion for rural affairs and the interests of regional communities, donating her time to local charities and events requiring promotion and support.
USC’s Associate Lecturer Journalism and Channel 7 colleague, Rosanna Natoli, remembers first seeing Katie in a tutorial and agreeing with former Head of School, Dr Stephen Lamble, she is ‘one to watch’. “I feel incredibly privileged to have watched Katie develop into the outstanding journalist, producer and presenter that she is today. Katie is an innovator, and an extremely hard worker with a fine-tuned regional focus who is leading the way in the Queensland media landscape".
Alumnus of the Year, Rising Star
Bachelor of Science (Sport and Exercise Science) 2006
Head of Performance Analysis, Brisbane Broncos
Scott was in the first intake of sport and exercise science students at USC in 1999. Around the same time, he wrote a letter to Brisbane Broncos coach Wayne Bennett offering his services at training and ended up volunteering there for two years, doing everything from holding up the tackle bags to filling water bottles.
In 2001, Wayne created a full-time paid position for Scott as Video Analyst. "Wayne was definitely ahead of his time", says Scott. "It's only in the last 4 or 5 years that other professional rugby league clubs have employed full-time performance analysts". During his career, Scott has also worked for Australian Rugby League, Newcastle Knights, Illawarra Dragons, QLD State of Origin and French National Rugby League. Career highlights include winning the NRL grand finals twice, QLD State of Origin in 2006 and being part of the winning Australian team at the 2011 Rugby League Four Nations tournament and 2013 Rugby League World Cup.
Passionate about pushing the boundaries of sports technology to improve team performance, in 2002, Scott bought a GPS tracking device with his own money to experiment how this could be applied to rugby league. Attached to a player’s jersey to record and analyse player performance and inform training load, these devices are now widely used in the sporting industry worldwide. When digital video came into the market, first in cricket in the late 1990s, Scott helped develop software for a league version that is now used in all 16 NRL clubs.
In 2015 Scott was one of the first in rugby league to introduce drone technology to film training sessions and more recently has been trialling virtual simulation technology as a training tool. Scott also gives back to his profession by mentoring sports and exercise students from various universities.
“The biggest thing I got out of USC was that it opened up this world of possibilities of how to make sport better”, says Scott. USC's Professor of Biomechanics, Brendan Burkett, helped him with several projects to push the boundaries of sport science.
At the end of this year’s NRL season, on a break from his commitments with the Broncos, Scott will take up a role as Head of Performance Analysis for the English National Rugby League team during the Four Nations tournament in the UK and for their preparations for the next Rugby League World Cup to be held in Australia.
Outstanding Alumnus of the Year Award
MBA 2004, GDEd 2011
Debbie Platz is the Chief Superintendent and Executive Manager, Training and Development, of the Queensland Police Service (QPS) and Public Safety Business Agency with 28 years of service. In this role, Debbie is responsible for the training of approximately 800 police recruits each year and 15,000 service personnel across Queensland, including investigative, intelligence, forensics, counter terrorism and detective training. She is also responsible for the training and development of over 300 staff from the Public Safety Business Agency, which enables the Queensland's police, fire and emergency services agencies to deliver the best public safety services to the community.
Debbie has and continues to represent QPS on numerous boards and committees at State, National and International levels. These include: the Professionalisation Forum of the Australian and New Zealand Policing Advisory Agency (ANZPAA); the Women in Policing Reference Group ANZPAA; General Secretary of the Australasian Council of Women and Policing for the past three years; the Special Task Force in to Domestic and Family Violence, and Secretariat of the newly formed Australian and New Zealand Society of Evidence Based Policing.
Debbie has participated in a number of randomised controlled field experiments to determine best practice strategies for policing. This expanding area of evidence based policing is globally recognising her contribution, as only 90 trials worldwide have been conducted in law enforcement.
Debbie has instigated, lead and developed numerous high profile programs, and facilitated workshops to determine best practice strategies for policing e.g. Mobile Police Community Office, The Watch House, Voice4Values program and the Forensic Services Group Project.
In 2014 Debbie was awarded a Wakefield Scholarship from Cambridge University, UK, to study a Masters of Applied Criminology and Police Management, under the direction of Lawrence Sherman, Wolfson Professor of Criminology and Director, Institute of Criminology. With only 6 scholarships available each year across the US, Canada, Australia and New Zealand, this program offers senior police officers up to date and high quality information on some of the world's most important theory and research in applied criminology and policing management.
Debbie mentors and coaches many staff and students, including formally mentoring two superintendents from Victoria and West Australia Police; the Executive Manager from State Emergency Service (NSW); the State Manager Rural Fire (NSW); a civilian researcher from Australian Federal Police and three sergeants from QPS.
In 2012, Debbie was awarded Most Outstanding Female Administrator by the Australasian Council of Women and Policing.
Debbie received a Commissioners Certificate for leadership in the review of policing operations across Queensland and in the Flood Commission of Inquiry in the aftermath of the 2011 disasters. Debbie was also awarded the Commissioners Lantern award for the development and delivery of a child protection campaign.
Debbie graduated from USC with a Master of Business Administration in 2004 and a Graduate Diploma of Education in 2011.
Dr Chris Walker
Alumnus of the Year Award, Rising Star
BSc(EnvSc) 2006, PhD 2012
Chris is the Environmental Manager and Senior Environmental Scientist for Covey Associates, a leading Sunshine Coast based, multi-discipline, engineering consultancy with clients throughout Australia and abroad. His specialties are: stormwater management, urban lake design and management, Water Sensitive Urban Design, erosion and sediment control and overall environmental project management of commercial, residential and industrial developments. In this role, Chris has made a significant impact on reducing the environmental impacts of large scale urban developments and improving the environmental health of water courses throughout Queensland.
Chris has significant experience in the design and management (construction and operational) of constructed lakes, wetlands, floating wetlands, and bio-retention basins. He has a particularly high level of expertise in the design and management of constructed urban lakes and stormwater quality modelling, which was the basis of his PhD research at USC.
Chris has been instrumental in Coveys gaining local and national recognition for their environmental work in greenfield and other urban developments, including from Sunshine Coast Council and Healthy Waterways, who selected the Parklakes master planned residential Estate in Bli Bli as a case study.
Over the past five years, Chris has been developing the use of Floating Wetlands to treat urban runoff stormwater in Australia. Chris has established several floating wetland projects in Queensland. The first project was Riverstone Rise in Gladstone, which has been extremely successful. Following this, designed in partnership with USC’s Senior Lecturer Civil Engineering Dr Terry Lucke and SPEL Environmental, Chris developed the first research study in Australia on treating urban runoff using floating wetlands. This project is located at Bribie Lakes, an upcoming residential development on Bribie Island, and has generated a high level of national and international interest.
Chris has also recently forged a new research alliance with BHP for using Floating Treatment Wetlands to treat dam tailings and to assess how floating wetlands can help to limit algal growth. This is cutting-edge research with significant potential international opportunities. USC is included as a stakeholder in the initial pilot study.
Chris' strong links to USC extend to playing a significant role in establishing numerous collaborative projects between the University and Industry research over the last few years. This collaboration now includes securing a new $700k+ research project with the developers of Parklakes 2 at Bli Bli, in which USC will be involved in the largest floating wetland research project in the world. Chris will be an associate supervisor for the PhD project and was recently appointed Adjunct Senior Lecturer at the University.
Previously, Chris received a Deans Award for Academic Excellence for his Honours degree at QUT, and an International Post-Graduate Research Scholarship and Australian Postgraduate Award for his PhD at USC.
Chris graduated from USC with both a Bachelor of Science (Environmental Science) in 2006 and a Doctor of Philosophy in 2012.
Alumnus of the Year Award, Regional Achievement
GCBusAdmin 2006, MBA 2007
Bill co-founded project marketing company Village Management Corporation in 1995 and with local developers, Reed Property Group, pioneered the concept of blending student housing at USC into a private residential property investment model – first The Village, then UniCentral. There are now dozens of private student accommodation complexes around QLD operating under the same private investment model they developed.
In 2007, Village Management took on the unit sales and management model for the proposed new Rumba Beach Resort project in Caloundra, acquiring the management rights for the resort as well, which it still retains. The sale of $60 million worth of investment apartments in the first 60 days of marketing broke all previous records for the area.
Currently employing a team of 25, Rumba has also achieved the highest hotel occupancy levels in the region, injecting over $4.5 million annually into the local economy. From its inception, Bill has served as marketing director, general manager and co-owner of the resort.
Under Bill’s management, Rumba Resort has won many awards, including: Wotif.com 4th Best Hotel in Australia; Trip Advisor Top 25 Resorts in the South Pacific; Winner of Best Tourism Accommodation in the Sunshine Coast region; Bronze award for Best Deluxe Accommodation in Queensland; and Caloundra Chamber of Commerce President’s Award for Best Business.
Bill is a renowned for his leadership and contribution to the Sunshine Coast tourism industry and economy generally. Some of his current and past roles include: Advisory Panel Chair and Director of Sunshine Coast Destination Ltd; Tourism and Events Chair for Caloundra Chamber of Commerce; member of the Caloundra CBD Revitalisation Taskforce; Tourism industry representative on the Sunshine Coast Chambers of Commerce Alliance (SCCCA); and the SCCCA representative on the Sunshine Coast Regional Economic Development Strategy Taskforce, the former Queensland Attorney General’s Expert Panel for Red Tape Reduction in the Liquor and Gaming Industries, and the former Queensland Premier’s Business Advisory Forum.
In 2013 Bill was part of the Sunshine Coast Mayoral Delegation to sister city Xiamen in China, providing important insights into inbound tourism opportunities with China, now Queensland’s most lucrative source of foreign tourism revenue.
Bill is also a passionate community supporter and philanthropist, a member of the USC Foundation Board and Chair of USC’s School of Business External Academic Advisory Committee.
Bill is frequently asked to contribute observations and opinions on tourism, employment and business related matters, including a monthly column for My Weekly Preview, the Caloundra Chamber of Commerce Buzz Magazine and his own blog.
Bill graduated from USC with a Graduate Certificate in Business Administration in 2006 and Master of Business Administration in 2007.
Dr Warish Ahmed
Outstanding Alumnus of the Year Award
Dr Warish Ahmed is a Senior Research Scientist in the Land and Water Flagship, CSIRO, Ecosciences Precinct, Brisbane, and an Adjunct Senior Lecturer at the University of the Sunshine Coast (USC). As part of his doctoral research at USC, under the co-supervision of Associate Professor Mohammad Katouli and Dr Ron Neller, Warish developed a microbial source tracking (MST) method known as 'biochemical fingerprinting' to identify sources of faecal pollution in Australia’s waterways.
His expertise in MST was recognized by the Queensland Department of Environment and Resource Management (DERM) with a grant in 2006 to develop quantitative PCR (qPCR) based sewage specific markers for the quantification of sewage pollution in storm water run-off. While at DERM, Warish developed a 'Toolbox' of methods to detect and measure key pathogens commonly found in environmental waters in Australia.
In 2010, Warish joined CSIRO as a research scientist and his research focused on the health risk assessment of roof-captured rainwater (funded by the Urban Water Security Research Alliance), and MST in environmental waters. His roof-captured, rainwater tank research has received significant attention, in particular from the Health Departments of Queensland and Victoria, and international researchers. Professor Charles Haas from Drexel University is using Warish’s results to develop health risk assessment models for the use of rainwater in the USA, and PhD student, Kerry Hamilton, has been awarded a Fulbright PhD scholarship to work with him on Health Risk Assessment of Opportunistic Pathogens in Roof-Captured-Rainwater Tanks.
Warish is the author of over 56 journal articles, 3 book chapters, 5 major technical reports and more than 40 conference papers. He has published a significant numbers of articles in top ranked journals such as: Environmental Science and Technology; Water Research; and Applied and Environmental Microbiology. He has an H-impact of 14 and total life-time citation of 550 (Scopus). He is an Editorial board member of Applied and Environmental Microbiology and ad hoc reviewer for many prestigious journals.
Warish is an Executive Committee member of the International Research Collaboration led by Professor Joan Rose from Michigan State University, to assess the impact of sewage on global waters (IC- Sewage). He is also collaborating with an international research team (comprised of participants from 16 countries) led by Professor Andreas Farnleitner from Vienna University of Technology. This research team is evaluating human and cattle specific Bacteroides markers for the detection of cattle faecal pollution in environmental waters on a global scale.
He has co-authored a book chapter for the Manual of Environmental Microbiology (MEM) 4th Edition, published by American Society of Microbiology, on MST: Field Study Planning and Implementation. "In my opinion, Dr Ahmed is the foremost researcher on water quality microbiology in Australia. He has been instrumental in bringing the newest technology to bear on water quality challenges in Australia and is highly regarded world-wide," says Professor Valerie Harwood, University of South Florida.
Alumnus of the Year Award, Rising Star
Jessica Huddart is the Creative Director and Partner of design ventures practice, Josephmark, leading a team of 25 staff in Brisbane, New York and Los Angeles. Joining Josephmark’s co-founders in 2005 as their first designer, Jessica has helped grow the business into a leading digital design and branding agency.
In 2011, Josephmark was one of only five digital agencies invited to tender for the redesign of the first global social networking site Myspace, which had recently been acquired by Justin Timberlake and Specific Media. Jessica led the successful pitch and moved to LA with her team as they guided their client towards its new vision and launch of the “New Myspace”, attracting a great deal of attention from the design and tech media in Australia and abroad.
Jessica has led other international design projects for Josephmark, including reimagining ‘video on demand’ for Latin America, for a company owned by Mexican business magnate Carlos Slim. In 2013, Jessica and three of her team consulted to Mariam Naficy, CEO of US crowd-sourced design company Minted.com, to help identify new areas for their digital product development.
One month after presenting a new 'marketplace' vision to the board, Minted.com secured another $42 million in Series C investment. Closer to home, Jessica is Co-founder and Curator of exhibition series ‘Seven with Another’ which invites seven pairs of artistic individuals from diverse disciplines to create collaborative artworks outside their usual processes and mediums.
To date there have been seven editions, incorporating 98 artists and 49 pieces of artwork, exhibited at the Brisbane Powerhouse Museum. Jessica was also instrumental in developing the Made in the Now (MITN) project, an online studio that experimented with and challenged the concept of 'fast fashion'. MITN produced an exclusive t-shirt every 24 hours for 365 days and then every week for a year.
Driven by social media, T-shirts were highly collectible, covetable designs available to purchase for a limited time only. Jessica contributes her time and expertise speaking to design students and industry, including Billy Blue College of Design, Shillington College, Queensland University of Technology, Creative3 and TedXSouthBankWomen. Jessica graduated with a Bachelor of Arts (Design & Marketing) from USC in 2006.
Alumnus of the Year Award, Regional Achievement
Brendan Powell is the Co-owner and Director, Business Operations, of Queensland Oztag, a social, non-contact sport that can be played from ages six to 60. Under Brendan’s leadership since 2009, the number of venues across the state has grown from seven to 44, and the number of players from 4,500 to over 30,000. It is fast becoming one of the most popular junior sports on the Sunshine Coast with almost 2,500 players in the Maroochydore and Caloundra clubs this year.
Oztag has brought a range of benefits to the Sunshine Coast economy. The 2014 Junior and Senior State Cups saw approximately 11,000 people involved, with the majority being visitors to the Sunshine Coast. Income generated for the region’s tourism providers was estimated at $2.1M. Brendan has also assisted in the negotiations between Australian Oztag and the Sunshine Coast Council for the Sunshine Coast to host the Oztag State of Origin tournament and the Tag World Cup in 2015, involving 16 countries. As a not-for-profit organisation, Qld Oztag’s ethos is to give back to the community.
Brendan has written and developed a number of community based programs including the Mooroo-Mooroo Indigenous program - a free program to improve the physical and mental health of Indigenous communities through participation in sport. To date participation in Far North Qld and the South-east exceeds 11,000 people. Brendan has also implemented a Correctional Services program that was successfully piloted at Woodford Prison in 2012 with 80 inmates participating. In 2009 Brendan implemented a Primary Schools program.
This year it is estimated that 8,500 free clinics will be delivered to 120,000 students across 400 schools. Other initiatives include the ‘Lunch Time Legends High School program’, and a Disabilities program currently being piloted in Maryborough, Caloundra and Nerang. In addition to running Qld Oztag, Brendan co-developed and implemented a sports administration company Mad Gecko in 2007 - a one stop shop for sports organisations including sports administration, live updates via multiple mediums, clothing and merchandise. There are currently 160,000 people using the system.
In 2013 he established the Queensland Oztag PhD Scholarship at USC, valued at $75,000 over three years, aimed at improving player and referee development. Brendan's long association with USC dates back to 2001, where he helped set up the Buranga Centre with just four indigenous students. With numbers close to 200 now, Brendan has been responsible in varying capacities for most of the programs and support services aimed at improving the access and retention rates of USC's indigenous students.
His dedication and commitment to indigenous education is also exemplified by membership on various committees including: Vice Chancellor’s Indigenous Advisory Committee; Sunshine Coast Indigenous Network Group; Wanna Be Deadly Program, and as a guest speaker to primary school students and international education students on exchange from the State University of New York. Brendan graduated with a Masters of Business Administration from USC in 2006.
Dr Amal Johnston
Outstanding Alumnus Award, research in plant biotechnology
Amal has had an outstanding career trajectory and made significant contributions in the fields of plant breeding, cell and molecular biology, biochemistry and genetics research. He has worked in some of the world’s most prestigious academic and research institutions, and is now leading his own research team in Germany. Amal is the Research Group Leader and Assistant Professor for Germline Biology, Centre for Organismal Studies, at the University of Heidelberg, currently ranked in the top 3 universities in Germany and top 80 in the world. He was awarded over 1.6 million euros from an Emmy-Noether grant under the German Research Foundation.
His research has the potential to revolutionise agriculture and promote global food security by producing seeds without pollination. Most seed production – including the main food crops of rice, wheat and corn - relies on flowers being pollinated by wind or insects. Food production would be greatly increased if major crops could produce seeds without pollination. Some of the wild relatives of the major food crops can produce seeds without pollination. Amal's research is about understanding how these plants form seeds without pollination, so that this characteristic can be transferred to the major food crops.
Receiving a Masters Scholarship from the Queensland Department of Primary Industries in 2000, Amal came to USC as an international student from India and studied under the supervision of Professor Helen Wallace on the hybridisation of pine trees in Queensland forestry plantations. Papers from his Masters degree were published in the international journal of plant breeding Euphytica.
Amal then completed his PhD in plant developmental biology at the University of Zurich. His focus was to uncover genes that control apomixis - an asexual mode of plant reproduction. This was followed by a Postdoctoral Fellowship at ETH Zurich, co-funded by the prestigious Roche Research Foundation. ETH is currently ranked the 8th best university in the world in engineering, science and technology, with over 20 Nobel Prize recipients, including Albert Einstein. From 2009 to 2012 he was a Project Leader and Humboldt Research Fellow at the internationally renowned plant research centre, IPK Gatersleben in Germany.
Amal has co-authored 12 peer-reviewed publications (6 as lead author) on asexual seeds and the use of biotechnology for sustainable agriculture production. His research findings have been presented at conferences in Australia, Switzerland, Germany, Austria, Italy, France, Spain, United Kingdom, China and Japan.
Outstanding Alumnus Award, executive leadership and management
Jenny is the Founder and CEO of The Morawska Group - a global management consultancy specialising in strategy, structure, sustainable economic and leadership development and business operational excellence, for commercial and public sector organisations. Her passions include banking and finance, science, supporting women as leaders, the right use of power and peace negotiations.
In addition to running her own management consultancy, Jenny has had extensive experience in executive leadership and management roles. She was the inaugural CEO for Research Infrastructure Support Services (RISS), now known as Therapeutic Innovation Australia (TIA), a not-for-profit established to distribute Federal government grants in the area of cell therapies for human transplant research. Soon after becoming USC’s first MBA graduate in 2000, Jenny was recruited as the General Manager, People and Performance at Westpac, to realign the business performance function across Australia, Asia and the Pacific. Previous roles also include Executive Director at Price Waterhouse; Director at Ernst and Young; Deputy Secretary for the Commonwealth Department of Finance and Administration & Department of Industry, Science, Resources and Tourism, and a senior executive at CSIRO.
Jenny has been a consultant to the 'Building Capacity for Peace (BCP) Project' for the Folke Bernadotte Academy, a Swedish government agency for peace, security and development. The project is about delivering an early intervention strategy in the peace-conflict-war cycle. She has worked with the General Assembly at the United Nations to conduct dialogues for peace with senior government officials and diplomats, senior executives of private sector organisations and international funding bodies such as the World Health Organisation and the World Bank. She has conducted assignments in Sweden, Turkey, Greece, the UK, France, Singapore, Indonesia, Malaysia, Chile and the USA.
Jenny is one of 20 leading business executives from around the world, chaired by Dr Peter Senge of MIT, who meet annually to work together on projects such as developing sustainable strategies for high performance leaders, triple bottom line reporting, measurement of intellectual capital, return on human capital, reframing organisations in the knowledge economy and innovative e-business applications.
Jenny is on the Executive Committee for Women Chiefs of Enterprises International, a Board member of the Australian Graduate School of Leadership, and is a past Executive Council Member of the Australian Institute of Management Consultants. Other memberships include Australian Institute of Company Directors and several boards including Right Use of Power Institute (USA).
In addition to a Masters of Business Administration from USC, Jenny also holds a Bachelor of Arts (Sciences), Graduate Diploma in Education, Graduate Diploma in Science, Masters of Science, International Company Directors Diploma and is a recent graduate of EDis Psychotherapy. She will gain a further qualification in psychotherapy at the end of 2013.
Dr Laura Bray
Outstanding Alumnus Award, ocular tissue engineering research
Since graduating at 18 with a science degree from USC, Laura has been involved in medical research into the evaluation of silk based materials for ocular tissue reconstruction. Completing her PhD this year at QUT at 24 years old, Laura is currently a post-doctoral fellow at the Queensland Eye Institute.
Under the supervision of the man who invented the artificial cornea, Professor Traian V. Chirila, this research has the potential to change the lives of millions of people.
Approximately 10 million cases of blindness worldwide are due to diseases affecting the cornea.
“At the moment we rely on donors for corneal transplants,” Laura said.
“The future supply of adequate corneal tissue for transplantation is uncertain, and this problem is further compounded by a current global shortage of corneal tissue for transplantation in countries without access to tissue banking facilities.”
Laura’s work studies the use of limbal stem cells in conjunction with a fibrous material known as fibroin, a protein which can be readily isolated from silkworm cocoons. It represents a step forward in developing limbal tissue transplants for treating severe eye injuries and common diseases. It is hoped these silkworm cocoons could one day replace the need for eye donors for cornea transplants.
Laura has co-authored 6 peer-reviewed publications, and has given 16 oral and poster presentations at conferences in Australia and overseas, including Spain, Austria and the U.S.
She has received or been a finalist for many awards, including the Prevent Blindness Foundation Travel Award and finalist of the 2011 Australian Society of Medical Research award in Queensland.
Laura is currently writing a chapter for an international book titled 'Methods of Regeneration of the Cornea'.
Outstanding Alumnus Award, international community development leadership
BA(IntStud) 2005, BA(Hons) 2006
Suzie is the manager of the International Projects Group (IPG) at USC and has been recognised for her leadership and dedication to international community development.
Her success over the last four years has seen IPG develop from a single-person operation with one grant of $135K, to 25 projects, up to 20 project staff and grants totalling $5.34M.
Suzie works in a highly-competitive arena, competing for funding with other leading universities and international aid management contractors. To date, funding success has come predominantly from AusAID as well as the United Nations, DEEWR, foreign governments and corporations.
Under Suzie’s leadership, IPG’s programs involve professional development and human resource capacity-building for foreign educators, nurses, IT specialists, government executives and officers including Ministers and Governors.
Whilst Indonesia has been the major focus of project activity, programs have also been developed and implemented with government agencies, civil society organisations and educational institutions from the Palestinian Territories, Vietnam, Cambodia, Fiji, Papua New Guinea, Mongolia, Mauritius, Uganda, the Maldives, Rwanda and Russia.
Suzie’s management role involves proposing and designing innovative development projects in cooperation with USC academics, specialists and international partners. She writes and submits funding applications, implements extensive projects on the USC campus, and evaluates and reports on projects for funding partners.
The projects draw multiple community partners together and aim to create positive impacts for the international communities involved. One such example is the Papuan teachers project involving over 120 teachers and principals completing 3-4 month professional development programs at USC. According to the Indonesian Republic’s testing of teacher proficiency, Papuan teachers ranked 9th out of 33 provinces this year. Prior to engagement at USC, they had ranked in the bottom three.
IPG has won significant grants over the past three years, including a 2012 grant of $1.073M for USC staff to work on projects with leaders from Uganda, Mongolia, eastern Indonesia and Lombok. Initiatives include supporting sustainable tourism practices and boosting technology use in health and education.
Suzie is a fluent Bahasa Indonesian speaker and has worked previously in various roles in Indonesia, including governance reform.
In 2005 Suzie received a Bachelor of Arts (International Studies) from USC, and completed a BA(Hons) in 2006. In 2012, she completed a Masters degree in International Development (RMIT).
Outstanding Alumnus Award, business and philanthropic leadership
As dealer principal of Coastline BMW at Currimundi on the Sunshine Coast, business acumen combined with philanthropic leadership has brought Tristan many accolades.
Tristan is the third generation director of the family business, following in both his father’s and grandfather’s footsteps. He began working for the company in 2005, having completed an internship at BMW world headquarters in Munich, Germany. In 2008 Tristan bought half the company and took over running the business as dealer principal.
Coastline BMW has over 50 employees and turns over $55 million annually. Under Tristan’s leadership the dealership has been recognised with many prestigious industry awards, including the BMW Individual dealer of the year, the BMW Finance Dealer of the year and the Australian MINI dealer of the year.
He is a member of the BMW Australia Product Planning Committee, BMW Australia Sales & Retail Marketing Committee and the BMW Australia After-Sales Committee.
Tristan has been recognised by BMW Australia’s managing director as one of the most dynamic young dealer principals in the country.
At age 31, Tristan is a role model for his corporate philanthropic leadership. He was a USC Foundation Board member from 2006-2011 and, as a dedicated volunteer, paved the way for future USC alumni to give back and support the University’s growth and success. Coastline BMW has been a regular sponsor of the USC Art Gallery and also provided funding for the starting blocks at USC’s pool. They are also a major supporter of Wishlist and support a number of local high schools through bursaries and charities, including Cystic Fibrosis Qld.
He was educated locally at Immanuel Lutheran College and along with English, speaks Italian, German and French.
Tristan completed a Bachelor of Business at USC in 2004.
Outstanding Alumnus Award, Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences
Chris Raine is the founder and CEO of website and blog Hello Sunday Morning (HSM). In 2009 Chris Raine committed to not drinking for 12 months and documented the journey through a blog and Facebook.
He aimed to get a true understanding of what it would take for a young person to change their drinking behaviour. That social experiment is now known as Hello Sunday Morning.
"Hello Sunday Morning’s purpose is to provide a platform for individuals to create meaningful change in their lives through a period of sobriety. By sharing their story, each person’s stand is a unique and essential contribution to a better drinking culture,” explains Chris.
By July 2011, over 1400 people had participated in the HSM program. HSM's vision is to increase that to 10,000 people across the world by 2013.
HSM has secured various grants including $200,000 from the Australian Centre for Social Innovation (TACSI) to support its operations, and $20,000 from the Alcohol Education & Rehabilitation Foundation (AERF) for a web documentary series.
HSM also received the 'Excellence in Services for Young People' award at the 2011 National Drug & Alcohol Awards. In 2010 Chris was listed in national broadcaster Triple J's Top 25 under 25, selected from 900 entries celebrating Australia's most innovative and inspiring young talent. He is also on the Foundation for Young Australian's Youth Advisory Board.
"My objective is to build Hello Sunday Morning into a powerful Australian charity, helping individuals take responsibility for their relationship with alcohol and to do their part to change our cultural dependence on it," says Chris.
Chris has a Bachelor of Arts/Bachelor of Business 2009 from USC.
Outstanding Alumnus Award, Faculty of Business
Beginning his career as a diesel mechanic in Mt Isa over 20 years ago, Dave is now the Executive General Manager Operations, AGC (An AusGroup Company).
Listed on the Singapore stock exchange with offices and fabrication facilities in Perth and Singapore, AGC helps large and small clients to build, maintain and upgrade oil, gas and mineral resource development projects.
Clients include BHP, Rio Tinto and Gindalbie Minerals.
Dave is one of six international managers on the AGC Executive Committee, charged with monitoring Group performance, identifying key issues within the business, and successfully implementing and updating the Group's strategy.
He has 600 staff under his leadership including project managers, engineers and tradespeople, which is expected to peak at 1500 as they take on more projects. Combined revenue from Dave’s group is forecast at $420 million for 2011.
In his previous role with AGC as General Manager, Eastern Australia and South East Asia, he was responsible for turning around the Singapore business, including a full restructure of the senior management team and turning a $2.2M loss into a $1M EBIT.
Prior to joining AGC in 2008, Dave spent 15 years with Indonesia based PT Petrosea, starting as a Field Maintenance Supervisor and progressing to Deputy General Manager, Mining.
Dave has a Bachelor of Business (International Business) 2006 from USC.
Outstanding Alumnus Award, Faculty of Science, Health and Education
BSc (BiomedSc) 2007, BSc(Hons) 2008, PhD 2011
In June 2011, Nubia secured a two year Postdoctoral Fellowship at one of the world's leading medical universities, Karolinska Institute in Stockholm Sweden.
According to the 2010 Academic Ranking of World Universities (ARWU) by Shanghai Jiao Tong University, the Karolinska Institute is the 42nd ranked university in the world, and the only medical school outside of the United States ranked in the world’s top ten.
The Karolinska Institute has selected the Nobel laureates in Physiology or Medicine since 1901.
Nubia had been invited to spend six months at the Karolinska Institute in 2010, as part of her PhD research into the genetic makeup of E.coli bacteria in the urogenital tract.
“Urinary tract infection is highly prevalent in the world, affecting mostly women with around 175 million cases per year. Due to this high incidence, it is very important we learn more about the disease and potential treatment,” says Nubia.
Based at the Clinical Microbiology department (Karolinska University Hospital) and Department of Microbiology, Tumour and Cell Biology (Karolinska Institute), Nubia’s work will include lab-based research leading to publications in peer-reviewed scientific journals and co-supervision of students.
Nubia has co-authored seven peer-reviewed publications and has received various awards including the Australian Postgraduate Award, the Rotary Scholarhship for Postgraduate Studies, and the Becton Dickinson Award in 2008, given annually to one PhD student per state by the Australian Society of Microbiology.
Nubia has a Bachelor of Science (Biomedical Science), Bachelor of Science (Honours) from USC and will receive her PhD at the September 2011 Graduation Ceremony. Her thesis is titled “molecular pathogenesis of septicaemic and uropathogenic Escherichia coli and the host response to infection”.
Dr Gary Crew
Outstanding Alumnus Award, Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences
Dr Gary Crew has published over 40 novels and illustrated books for children and youth on every continent in the world in 15 languages.
He is one of Australia's most awarded authors for youth fiction, winning the Australian Children's Book of the Year award four times, twice for his novels, twice for his illustrated book.
He has also been awarded the National Children's Book Award; the Victorian Premier's Award; the New South Wales Premier's Award; the Ned Kelly Award for Crime Writing; the Aurealis Award for Speculative Fiction and both the Wilderness Society Award and Royal Zoological Award for Environmental Writing.
He has been twice short listed for the Edgar Allen Poe Mystery Fiction Award in the United States, a Hungry Minds American Children's Book of Distinction, and three times granted a Special Mention for the prestigious White Crane Award for Children's fiction in Europe.
Gary is Associate Professor, Creative Writing, at the University of the Sunshine Coast. In 2006 he received the Vice-Chancellor's Award for Outstanding USC Researcher as well as a Carrick Citation for Outstanding Contributions to Student Learning.
Gary has a Doctor of Creative Arts from USC.
Dr PM Kam
Outstanding Alumnus Award, Faculty of Business
Dr PM Kam is the Chief Executive Officer of the Financial Reporting Council Hong Kong, a statutory body established to conduct investigation of auditing irregularities and enquiries into non-compliance of accounting requirements in relation to listed entities in Hong Kong.
He previously worked for Jardine Matheson for 34 years before his retirement in March 2010, having been its Group Financial Controller for over 25 years. Jardine Matheson has 50,000 employees and an annual turnover of $30 billion.
PM is a member of the IFRS Advisory Council of the International Accounting Standards Board. He has also served as a member on a number of public sector advisory and statutory bodies including the Corruption Prevention Advisory Committee, the Operations Review Committee of the Independent Commission Against Corruption and the Process Review Panel of the Securities and Futures Commission.
He is a member of Hong Kong Institute of Certified Public Accountants (past President 1999-2000), the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants, the Chartered Institute of Management Accountants, the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales, the Institute of Chartered Secretaries and Administrators, the Association of International Accountants, and the Certified General Accountants Association of Canada.
PM is an Adjunct Associate Professor of the School of Accountancy, Chinese University of Hong Kong, and an Adjunct Professor of City University of Hong Kong.
PM has a PhD from USC. His thesis was on corporate governance and earnings management in Hong Kong.
Outstanding Alumnus Award, Faculty of Science, Health and Education
Madonna is the ATOD Prevention Coordinator (Northern) for the Alcohol, Tobacco & Other Drug Prevention Unit, based in Townsville, Queensland. Her role covers the area north to the Torres Strait Islands, west to the Northern Territory border, and south to Mackay.
It is a senior position within the Division of the Chief Health Officer, Queensland Health, involving the planning, implementation, management, evaluation and reporting of key ATOD prevention activities.
Previous roles have included Senior Health Promotion Officer with the Tropical Population Health Unit based in Mount Isa, and ATOD Health Promotion Coordinator for the Townsville Health Service District.
Whilst in this role, Madonna also took on the responsibilities of Zonal HIV, Hepatitis C and Sexual Health Coordinator, implementing and evaluating the Indigenous Youth Safe Sex Project in collaboration with Indigenous Health Workers in Townsville and the Mount Isa Health Service District.
In 2003 Madonna was instrumental in obtaining $250,000 from the Alcohol Education & Rehabilitation Foundation (AERF) to implement a 3 year project in Mount Isa to address Volatile Substance Misuse.
She also introduced the World Health Organisation (WHO) Safe Communities project, arranging a visit from a WHO representative and setting up working groups corresponding with injury presentations at Mount Isa Base Hospital.
In addition to her work with Queensland Health, Madonna has contributed to the health promotion profession as both National Treasurer and President, Queensland branch, of the Australian Health Promotion Association.
Madonna has a Bachelor of Science (Public Health) from USC.
Jonty Bush BBus 2002, Outstanding Alumnus Award, Faculty of Business
Jonty Bush was awarded 2009 Young Australian of the Year by the National Australia Day Council for her dedicated work on prevention initiatives and law reforms for homicide victims in her role as CEO of the Queensland Homicide Victims Support Group.
Keryn Jones BSocSc 2005, Outstanding Alumnus Award, Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences
Keryn is a dedicated campaigner for social justice and ecological sustainability in her role as Councillor, Division 3, with the Sunshine Coast Regional Council and previously as the Coordinator of the Sunshine Coast Environment Council.
Emily Orchard BSC2002 Outstanding Alumnus Award, Faculty of Science, Health and Education
Emily is the Senior Forensic Technician and Senior Occupational Health and Safety Consultant, Victorian Institute of Forensic Medicine. Emily was closely involved in the Victorian Bushfire Disaster Victim Identification (DVI) process in early 2009.
Dr Elke Hacker BSc 2002, BSc (Hons) 2003
Dr Elke Hacker received the 2008 Outstanding Alumni Award for her research work into the genetics of melanoma cancer at the Queensland Institute of Medical Research (QIMR).
Dr Craig Hansen BSc(Public Health) 2002, BSc (Hons) 2003, PhD 2007
Dr Craig Hansen was recognised for his doctoral and postdoctoral research in epidemiology (the study of diseases in populations) which included field work in the South African township of Soweto. In December 2007 Craig commenced a post-doctoral fellowship with United States Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA).
Kristy Ellis (nee Munroe) BBus 2006
Kristy Ellis (nee Munroe) was recognised for her achievements in Surf Lifesaving on a local, national and international level. With both a University of the Sunshine Coast degree and multiple Australian and World Ironwoman Championship titles to her name, Kristy said she has now achieved many of her educational and sporting goals.
Marayke Jonkers BSocSc(CommWk) 2004, BA(Comn 2006)
The inaugural Outstanding Alumni of the Year Award was presented to medal-winning paralympian Marayke Jonkers in recognition of being named Queensland Young Achiever of the Year 2005. Marayke beat a field of 400 contenders.
Please note: this is archival information and may not reflect the recipients' current work details.