National teaching awards for dynamic duo


She’s inspired Australia to save Nemo and the reef, and now Flinders University’s Associate Professor Karen Burke da Silva’s efforts to inspire fellow teachers has earned her Australia’s top university teaching award.

Adding to Flinders’ success, the University’s Introductory Academic Program led by Associate Professor Saleh Kutieleh proudly received a second coveted award for Global Citizenship and Internationalisation.

Associate Professor Karen Burke da Silva, who has led the establishment of a clownfish captive breeding program at Flinders University.

Minister of Education and Training Simon Birmingham said Associate Professor Burke da Silva had been a “true leader in university research” and her Scientists leading Scientists program had “driven science academics to improve their teaching skills”, as he named her University Teacher of the Year at the Australian Awards for University Teaching.

Associate Professor Burke da Silva has made international headlines for her ‘saving Nemo’ work to protect the clownfish (made famous by Pixar and Walt Disney in the Saving Nemo franchise) from being taken from the wild.

In delivering the awards that celebrate the nation’s most innovative and inspiring educators, Minister Birmingham said Australia must remain at the top of its game to keep up with the rapidly changing international landscape, and it was “work like that from Associate Professor Burke da Silva that has been and will be key to the excellence and innovation of Australia’s higher education system”.

“In a world of rapidly changing technologies and processes, Australia needs to remain an agile, smart and creative nation,” Mr Birmingham said.

Associate Professor Salah Kutieleh was recognised with the award for Global Citizenship and Internationalisation.

“Outstanding university teaching is essential to ensuring we are well-prepared for the future.”

Flinders University Vice-Chancellor Professor Colin Stirling said Associate Professor Burke da Silva’s innovative approach to teaching epitomised the very best of Flinders University’s bold and creative approach to meeting the challenges posed by global disruption and change.

“Flinders University has continued to thrive and strive forward during one of the most complex and disruptive times in the history of the higher education sector, and this is thanks to staff like Professor Burke da Silva and Associate Professor Salah Kutieleh,” says Professor Stirling.

“They are Flinders staff members who encapsulate the very best of our values, and on behalf of all of our staff, students and alumni I thank them for their work and congratulate them on their success.”

Associate Professor Burke da Silva and Associate Professor Kutieleh’s awards were among 30 presented in recognition of excellence in biological sciences, health, humanities, arts, law, and business.

The federal government 2016 Awards for Teaching Excellence winners included:

Teacher of the Year: Karen Burke da Silva, Flinders University.

Biological Sciences, Health and related studies: Associate Professor Karen Burke da Silva, Flinders. Professor Paul Mills, University of Queensland. Associate Professor Mario Ricci, University of Adelaide.

Early Career: Mrs Michelle Quail, Curtin University.

Humanities and the Arts: Professor Dawn Bennett, Curtin University. Professor Gemma Carey, Griffith University. Associate Professor Trevor Cullen, Edith Cowan University. Dr Tony Joel, Deakin University.

Law, Economics, Business and related: Dr Peter Balan, University of South Australia. Professor Mark Brimble, Griffith University. Professor Gayle Kerr, QUT.

Indigenous Education: Associate Professor Heidi Norman, University of Technology, Sydney.

Physical and related sciences: Associate Professor Paul Francis, ANU. Associate Professor Birgit Loch, Swinburne University of Technology.

Social and Behavioural Sciences: Associate Professor Catherine Attard, Western Sydney University, Dr Jaclyn Broadbent, Deakin University. Dr Lorraine Hammond, Edith Cowan. Professor Michael Platow, ANU.

2016 Awards for Programs that Enhance Learning

Widening Participation: Dementia Education Program – University of Tasmania. Live, Learn, Lead Program – Federation University Australia. Connecting4Success Program – University of Southern Queensland.

Educational Partnerships and Collaborations with other Organisations:Noongar Dandjoo – Curtin. Physiotherapy National Simulation Program – Curtin. Pro Bono Centre – University of Queensland.

Innovation and Flexibility in Curricula, Learning and Teaching: QUT Sessional Success Program – QUT. Research and Critical Analysis Program – University of Wollongong.

Postgraduate Education:  UQ Three Minute Thesis (University of Queensland).

Student Experiences and Services Supporting Learning, Development and Growth in Higher Education: JCU Learning Centre – James Cook University.

Global Citizenship and Internationalisation: The Flinders University Introductory Academic Program – Flinders University.


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