Celebrating alumni who make their mark

Tireless activism to avert the threat of nuclear weapons and efforts to improve the lives of people around the world are amongst the achievements of the remarkable individuals recognised in the 2022 Flinders University Alumni Awards.

Fourteen outstanding alumni were awarded by Flinders University Chancellor Stephen Gerlach AM and Deputy Chancellor, and Chair of the Alumni Awards Selection Committee, Elizabeth Perry AM at a Gala Dinner celebrating the awardees on Thursday 24 November.

In front of an audience made up of family, friends, former mentors and past awardees, the Flinders University graduates were formally recognised and celebrated for their extraordinary contributions to their fields and society as a whole.

The Convocation Medal, the highest of the University’s alumni honours, was awarded to Dr Ruth Mitchell, and Professor Justine Smith, for their substantial and outstanding contributions to their respective fields on a local, national and international level.

As a founding member of the team that received Australia’s first Nobel Peace Prize – the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN) – Dr Ruth Mitchell acknowledges her time as an international student at Flinders University lit the fuse that set her on the path to being a passionate and strident advocate for nuclear disarmament.

Dr Mitchell’s advocacy work also extends into the medical profession, where she was the inaugural Australian Medical Association Doctor in Training of the Year in 2016, earning recognition for her work as chair of the Royal Australasian College of Surgeons Trainees’ Association. She also received the 2019 John Corboy Medal from the Royal Australasian College of Surgeons for her advocacy for diversity and inclusion in surgery.

As a world-leading laboratory and clinical researcher, Professor Justine Smith has launched a global registry to improve knowledge of a rare eye cancer and won a host of international ophthalmology awards. But to her students and her peers, Professor Smith is better known for her tireless mentorship for young clinical scientists, especially women.

With experience including the establishment of an international mentoring programs for young ophthalmologists, publicising areas of under-representation, and initiating working groups to address gender inequities, Professor Smith is an internationally recognised role-model for young scientists hoping to make their mark on the world.

International best-selling novelist Hannah Kent is amongst an inspiring group of Flinders Distinguished Alumni Awardees in acknowledgement of her significant contributions to arts and culture including the novel borne of her Flinders PhD thesis ‘Burial Rites’ and subsequent titles, and for her support and championing of emerging literary talent in Australia as co-founder of the literary journal Kill Your Darlings.

Diverse interests coupled with diverse skills and expertise means that Dr James Doube AAM is making an extraordinary impact in delivering rural and remote medicine, emergency medical retrieval with SA Ambulance, wildlife preservation, conservation activities, and helping to change the landscape of Antarctic islands.

Anastasia Bougesis, Chief Development Officer of Disaster Relief Australia, was recognised for her distinguished leadership in disaster relief, both as a volunteer and employee, bringing together a passion for emergency management, community service and women in leadership.

Australian film producer Helen Leake AM received an award for her continuous service to and ongoing fostering of business and innovation within the film industry, particulary in South Australia.

Felicity Crowther, Executive Director of the South Australian Council on Intellectual Disability (SACID), was awarded for her leadership and advocacy in driving an inclusive practice for people with an intellectual disability in South Australia.

Wine chemist Dr David Jeffery received an award for his significant contributions to grape and wine research, and the role he plays in educating South Australia’s emerging wine making talent.

A selection of alumni who have made a significant impact in the formative years of their career were also recognised through the Early Career Alumni Awards, awarded to alumni who have graduated within the past five years and are already on the fast track to success at the start of their career or following a change in career direction.

Kim Anastasiou, research dietician and environmental sustainability advocate, was awarded for her significant activism and research in creating environmentally sustainable diets and improving healthy food systems.

Assistant Professor at Kasetsart University, Suvimol Charoensiddhi, was awarded for significant research in the field of marine bioproducts for human health and nutrition and for actively contributing to the wider scientific community.

Laura Drexler was awarded for her research that promotes and protects hearing health and the development of innovative communication strategies, including the Ambient Menu, a website that guides hearing impaired people and their families to conversation-friendly restaurants where they can connect and remain social.

Master of  Social Work graduate Rikki Cooke was awarded for her ongoing dedication to improving the lives of vulnerable South Australians by establishing Treasure Boxes, a vital, practical and life-changing organisation that provides essential items for children aged 0-17 who are being impacted by domestic violence, homelessness, or extreme poverty.

Dr Brittany Johnson was awarded for her significant contributions within the field of public health nutrition and behavioural change that support children and families to establish positive health behaviours.

Talented artist and digital media whiz Anthony Robinson – one of InDaily’s 40 Under 40 for 2022 – was awarded for his remarkable career as a leading storyboard artist and independent game developer.

For more information about the Alumni Awards and this year’s winners, click here.

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