Award Recipients

Congratulations to all nominees, shortlisted candidates, and in particular, to the outstanding 2023 University Award recipients.

  • Excellence in Research

    An award for an academic staff member

    Professor Matthew Gilliham 

    Director, Waite Research Institute, Division of Research and Innovation

    Matthew is one of Australia’s highest performing Plant Scientists. He is a Clarivate Highly Cited Researcher and respected internationally for his work in plant nutrition, stress signalling and salt tolerance. Matthew is focussed on translating fundamental discoveries into practice improvement, and his work in salinity tolerance has been adopted by industry. He has published in high impact journals and has led or been co-Chief Investigator on grants of over $100 million from competitive industry and government sources. Amongst his many accomplishments, Matthew has been a Chief Investigator on two ARC Centres of Excellence, and was recently appointed Director of the ARC Centre of Excellence in Plants for Space.

    Matthew has successfully held leadership positions at the Waite Research Institute for 4 years, as Director and Deputy Director. He has an impressive record of supervision, which includes 39 students and 14 postdoctoral research associates, and is committed to fostering the next generation of research leaders.

    Associate Professor Zohra Lassi

    NHMRC Externally funded Research Fellow in the School of Public Health, Faculty of Health and Medical Sciences

    Zohra is an internationally renowned epidemiologist known for her pivotal contributions to improving reproductive, maternal, newborn, child, and adolescent health and nutrition in disadvantaged settings. Her influence in the field of public health is undeniable, evidenced by her extensive body of work, consisting of over 210 peer-reviewed papers and the translation of her research into six World Health Organization guidelines. Over the past five years, Zohra has won 22 grants totalling $3.5 million and has achieved a prolific research output, publishing 121 papers, including 19 as first author. Her scholarly impact is also reflected in her involvement with The Lancet, where she has contributed as a working group member on 11 occasions. 

    Zohra excels in collaboration with national and international experts, fostering teamwork and leveraging collective expertise for the common good within the global health community. Zohra’s work shines as a testament to the power of knowledge, dedication and unwavering commitment to a healthier world.


    An award for an early-career researcher

    Dr Phillipa McCormack

    Future Making Fellow in the Adelaide Law School, Faculty of Arts, Business, Law and Economics

    Phillipa McCormack is a productive early career researcher with an exceptionally high-impact and engagement record. She has authored or co-authored 34 academic publications, including 29 peer-reviewed journal articles – with one published in the high-ranking journal, Science. In 2017, she won the prestigious Australian Academy of Law essay prize. This published essay was cited multiple times in the latest Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Adaptation and Vulnerability report (McCormack 2018) - an extremely rare and impressive feat for a legal scholar.

    Phillipa has a strong funding track record, and in 2019 won funding to bring together leading scholars to map, for the first time, Australia’s fire laws. Among her significant achievements, Phillipa was recently awarded a University of Adelaide Future Making Fellowship, and has won 2 Natural Hazards Research Australia Early Career Fellowships. With these, she is enhancing the University’s reputation as a leading institution for fire research, strengthening international networks, and building research momentum in the Adelaide Law School.


    An award for an academic, professional or mixed team

    Portable Atomic Clocks

    Institute for Photonics and Advanced Sensing, Division of Research and Innovation

    Team representative: Professor Andre Luiten

    Dr Ben Sparkes 

    School of Physics, Chemistry and Earth Sciences, Faculty of Sciences, Engineering and Technology

    Mr Jack Allison                                  Dr Christopher Billington               Dr Nicolas Bourbeau-Hebert

    Dr Ashby Hilton                                 Dr Elizaveta Klantsataya               Mr Montana Nelligan

    Dr Rachel Offer                                 Dr Chris Perrella                            Dr Sarah Scholten

    Mr Andrew Stasiak                           Dr Georgina Sylvia                         Ms Sarah Watzdorf

    The Portable Atomic Clock team is a diverse, multidisciplinary and multi-organizational research team of physicists, engineers, computer scientists, and management staff. The team took a technology previously relegated to large laboratories and transitioned it to a portable technology capable of operating autonomously on a moving vessel. In fact, to the best of our knowledge, these clocks are the first globally to operate autonomously in a real-world environment. In 2022, they were tested against the world’s best quantum sensing and timing technologies, and out-performed the current gold-standard technology by 100 times.

    The Portable Atomic Clocks Team demonstrated the promise of optical atomic clocks in providing the next generation of deployable timing solutions. To bring this advancement to the scientific, commercial, and defence communities, both clocks are now actively undergoing commercialisation. The commercial versions of the clocks will deliver everyday benefits to Australia, with potential applications ranging from supporting a sovereign GPS network to assuring the synchronisation of both civilian and defence communications networks.

  • An Enhanced Student Experience

    An award for an individual

    Alessandro Sereni

    International Engagement Officer in Student Experience, Division of Academic and Student Engagement

    Alessandro is passionate about enhancing the experience of international students, and providing opportunities for them to develop a deep sense of community and belonging within the University and the city of Adelaide. He achieves this with enthusiasm, dedication and a clear commitment to innovation.

    His positive approach is evidenced most notably by his initiative, the Fantastic Race – a purpose-built, low-cost, Amazing Race-like game app and activity. The Fantastic Race empowered 400 international students to explore the campus and the City, while learning tips to facilitate their transition to University and life in Australia in a fun and friendship-building way. He subsequently enhanced this initiative with the Bingo Card competition, which, in collaboration with MediBank’s Live Better initiative, encouraged 600 students to participate in events around campus and engage with ISS online resources and social media channels.  Finally, in collaboration with International Peer Mentors, Alessandro initiated the Welcome to Adelaide interactive video map project. This initiative provides a platform for senior international students to share valuable insights, and fosters a sense of community and mentorship among peers.


    An award for an academic or professional mixed team

    The Ray Last Anatomy Laboratory Technical Team

    Health and Medical Sciences Faculty Office, Faculty of Health and Medical Sciences

    Team representative: Mr Michael Hodges

    Mr Corey Lloyd                                 

    Mr Glenn Maddigan

    The Ray Last Dissection Laboratory Technical Team consistently manage the Body Donation Program, and prepare anatomical specimens for teaching sessions at the Ray Last Anatomy Laboratory. Part of this involves providing opportunities for individuals to bequeath their bodies to science and make a lasting contribution to the education and training of health professionals and to advance research. As the central mortuary facility for the three universities in South Australia, the team recognise these valuable contributions and approach them with empathy and concern.

    The Ray Last technical team contribute significantly to student recruitment and retention to flagship courses of the University by ensuring a highly professional teaching facility that is well-liked by students, enough for its reputation to spread by "word-of-mouth" amidst both domestic and international candidates. Numerous prospective medical-students recognise the ‘state-of –the –art' Lab as being one of the main reasons why they choose the University of Adelaide to pursue their medical degree over other institutions, and current students consistently report their outstanding on-campus experience within the Lab. 

  • A Culture of Impact and Excellence

    An award for an academic or professional staff member for exceptional leadership

    Professor Susan James Relly

    Head of School of Education, Faculty of Arts, Business, Law and Economics

    Susan has been a transformative leader who, as Head of School, had an immediate and immeasurable impact in teaching and learning, research and culture for the School of Education. Susan has a clear vision for growth, which she heads towards with grace, determination and resilience. She has a strong awareness of equity issues, and this shines through in the way she leads. With a values-based leadership style, Susan has reset the School’s agenda through negotiation and consultation. She endeavours to advance the strengths of individuals, so that everyone feels motivated to pull in the same direction, though in different ways and with diverse skills.

    Under Susan’s exceptional leadership, the School has strengthened its teaching, significantly developed leadership capability amongst staff, amassed research activity of over $4 million, and importantly, fostered an environment of mutual respect, trust and collaboration. Susan is an asset to the University, and has positioned the School of Education for a strong future in a changing educational and institutional context.


    An award for a staff member for service innovation and quality

    Libby Hogarth

    Sustainable Development Planner in Infrastructure, Division of University Operations

    Libby is being awarded for her integral role in developing, coordinating and now implementing the Here for Good Sustainability Strategy. This new strategy is a groundbreaking cornerstone for the University and the strategy’s goals support our students with sustainable career paths, provide communities and partners with researched solutions to transition to the green economy, solve sustainability challenges and build climate adaptation and resilience.

    Libby is also recognised for her recent contributions to the 2023 Sustainability Tracking, Assessment and Rating System submission, as well as the Campus Sustainability Plan (2016-2020) which delivered an 18% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions, a 1.85 megawatt solar farm at Roseworthy and 40% landfill diversion rate.

    Through her work, Libby continually demonstrates her ability to navigate differing opinions and agendas with sensitivity and respect. She has a natural way of bringing people together, a positive demeanour and an unwavering commitment to achieving excellence.


    An award for a team for service innovation and quality

    The International Coursework Recruitment Reform team (ICARR)

    Office of External Engagement; Future Students, Division of External Engagement

    Team representative: Mr Tony Palatianos

    Mrs Moira Laird                                Mr Brian Pike                     Mrs Kelly Singh

    Student Learning, Division of Academic and Student Engagement

    Mrs Michelle Quillium

    ITDS Digital Transformation, Division of University Operations

    Mr Nick Papadopoulos

    Arts, Business, Law and Economics Faculty Office, Faculty of Arts, Business, Law and Economics

    Ms Zoha Kazmi

    The ICARR Team has significantly transformed the international admissions space. The project has developed in-house international assessment capacity. This involved implementing an integrated application processing system, delivering considerable productivity gains and substantially reducing manual business processes across the University. In addition to the numerous internal benefits, the initiative has significantly improved the experience for all users, including agents and applicants, which was a key focus for the team.  This project has changed the landscape within the International Admissions space, and has been commended by other University’s as best practice within the sector.

    The ICARR team proved highly-motivated and committed to collectively achieving their objectives. They demonstrated what can be achieved by a harmonious blend of strategic vision and technological expertise, achieving what the Selection Committee noted as truly transformational.

  • A Connected and Enriched Community

    An award for a staff member or team for building a sense of community

    Mr Grayson Rotumah

    Lecturer in the Elder Conservatorium of Music, Faculty of Arts, Business, Law and Economics

    Through his two works, Bula Yabru Banam and Creation, both of which were commissioned by the Adelaide Symphony Orchestra, Grayson has made a substantial contribution to our knowledge of intercultural dialogues between Indigenous and non-Indigenous ensembles and musicians. Creation is a small, but important step in audience education of the diversity and nuance of Australia’s Indigenous cultures. At the heart of his piece were five Indigenous soloists, each from different Indigenous nations with unique languages and cultures coming together to tell a Bundjalung creation story, intertwined with the telling of more recent and not often told Indigenous histories of massacres and missions.

    Grayson’s contributions to building a sense of community have also been achieved through his work on the Kaurna Song Book Revitalization Project, which will culturally enrich primary and high school educations for decades to come. This project focuses on revitalizing the historical Kaurna Song Book, and is connecting key staff, alumni, and students from the Centre for Aboriginal Studies in Music with Kaurna musicians and community, and the Kaurna language team.


    Consent and Respectful Relationships working group

    Student Experience, Division of Academic and Student Engagement

    Team representative: Ms Narelle Murdoch

    Ms Chelsea Deckert                         Ms Jacqui Faliszewski                    

    Ms Vicki McCoy                                Ms Joanne McNamara

    The University of Adelaide, University of South Australia and Flinders University collaborated to create a best-practice, evidence-based online module to increase students' knowledge and understanding of consent and respectful relationships.

    Since it launched on 1 August 2023, more than 830 students have completed the module, with overwhelmingly positive feedback. This number will continue to grow with each cohort of commencing students. 

    The Module has been featured as an example of best practice in Universities Australia’s Primary Prevention of Sexual Harm in the University Sector - Good Practice Guide and was presented at a Communities of Practice Workshop hosted by Universities Australia

    Along with its objective of increasing awareness about consent and respectful relationships, the team’s vision is for the impact of the module to extend beyond campus, and for students to take their insight into respectful interactions into broader society. 


    An award for a staff member or team for promoting equity, diversity and inclusion within the University

    School of Psychology Academic Co-Leads for First Nations Indigenous Education and Engagement

    School of Psychology, Faculty of Health and Medical Sciences

    Mr Tod Stokes

    Dr Amanda Taylor

    Amanda and Tod have been working together productively since late 2021 to embed First Nations knowledges and perspectives across the Psychology curricula. Tod has worked closely with academic staff to support changes to their teaching, affecting change by bringing people together as a community to learn and grow.

    The team has also led a series of initiatives to support First Nations students and build strong connections between the School of Psychology, Wirltu Yarlu and local organisations involved in employing psychology graduates. An example of this was the immensely successful School of Psychology First Nation’s Work Expo. The event was hugely successful in engaging students, with requests that it is held again in 2024. The two academic co-Leads work closely together as an effective team, with Tod bringing innovative ideas and strong connections with Community, and Amanda helping to translate these ideas to the University and connect Tod within the School and Faculty.


    An award for a titleholder for making an exceptional contribution

    Dr Joshua Kovoor

    Lecturer in the Faculty of Health and Medical Sciences

    Josh is both a titleholder, and an outstanding student nearing the completion of his PhD. Josh is constantly striving to develop new ways to improve the care of patients in South Australia, and in doing so, fosters research, teaching, and community engagement. One of the many ways that Josh has been achieving this is through the development of his now state-wide journal club. The journal club has engaged many students, interns and clinicians to engage in research, and to that end, there is now a small army of colleagues doing great AI and other medical related projects. Josh has a unique talent for bringing together people with diverse backgrounds to facilitate innovation and provide educational opportunities for medical students and junior doctors. His impact has also extended to international proportions, with an extensive research publication record of over 90 peer-reviewed publications and an aggregate of $86,000 in grant funding. Josh has been described by one senior academic leader as a star, and a great advocate of the University Values.

2023 Award Recipients