University to celebrate outstanding alumni

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University to celebrate outstanding alumni


Laura Bray

5 September 2012

An eye tissue engineering researcher, the dealer principal of Coastline BMW and the manager of the University of the Sunshine Coast’s International Projects Group have been named USC’s 2012 Outstanding Alumni of the Year.

The high-achieving trio, whose achievements are listed below, comprises Science graduate Laura Bray (nee Sinfield) of Bray Park, Bachelor of Business graduate Tristan Kurz of Warana and Bachelor of Arts Honours graduate Suzie Burford of Sippy Downs.

They will be honoured at the University’s 2012 Outstanding Alumni of the Year Awards ceremony on Thursday 13 September at USC’s Innovation Centre auditorium.

USC’s Alumni Relations Officer Anita Edmonds said all USC graduates were welcome to attend this special celebration from 6-8pm.

“These annual awards recognise alumni for significant achievements in their fields of endeavour, from professional and academic achievements to research and community work,” she said.

“The event also provides a great opportunity for alumni to reconnect with the University and network with fellow graduates and friends of USC.”

Light refreshments and finger food will be served and there is no charge to attend. For more details contact Anita Edmonds via email at, phone (07) 5459 4564 or visit

The 2012 Outstanding Alumni of the Year winners are:

Dr Laura Bray, BSc 2007 – 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. 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.

Tristan Kurz, BBus 2004 – Tristan is the third generation director of Coastline BMW at Currimundi, which has more than 50 employees and an annual turnover of $55 million. He took over running the family-owned business as dealer principal in 2008 when he bought half the company. Under Tristan’s leadership, the dealership has won many prestigious industry awards. Tristan is also a role model for his corporate philanthropic leadership. He was a USC Foundation Board member from 2006-2011 and has helped pave the way for future USC alumni to 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. It is also a major supporter of Wishlist and other charities, and provides bursaries to a number of local high schools.

Suzie Burford, 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 past four years has seen the IPG develop from a single-person operation with one grant of $135,000 to 25 projects, up to 20 project staff and grants totalling $5.34 million. Suzie works in a highly-competitive arena, competing for funding with other 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.

— Terry Walsh

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