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Lumen Summer 2012 Issue
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Global Impact

From the hustle and bustle of New York, to rural Tanzania and a life-changing experience in Nepal, you'll find a University of Adelaide alumnus in almost every corner of the world. Lumen profiles three outstanding alumni who cross the boundaries of culture, country and comfort in their quest to make a meaningful contribution.

Bachelor of Arts 1985

A Kamikaze Path

Jane Sloane is Vice President of Development with Women's World Banking, which in 2010 provided microfinance and microhealth insurance to almost 26 million women in developing countries.

On taking up the position and moving to New York, Jane was thrilled to receive a handwritten letter from the Governor-General, Her Excellency Quentin Bryce, congratulating Jane on her work with women and girls and offering support for the time ahead.

This recognition is just one example of the high regard in which Jane is held, both by her many distinguished role models and mentors and by those whose lives she has affected through her humanitarian work.

Since graduating from the University of Adelaide with a Bachelor of Arts in 1985, Jane has followed what she calls "a kamikaze path!"

Moving across a variety of communications and public relations roles in her early career, Jane has held executive positions with such organisations as World Vision, Marie Stopes International, International Women's Development Agency, Austrade, the Sydney Media Centre for the Sydney Olympic Games and the Social Entrepreneurs Network, where she was the founding CEO.

Jane has also been the recipient of numerous local and international awards including an Asia Pacific Business Women's Council Woman of Distinction Award and a 2005 Churchill Fellowship to improve humanitarian emergency response models for Australia and the region after the Asian tsunami.

"My Churchill Fellowship was extraordinary and a particular highlight was spending time with the Standby High Readiness Brigade (SHIRBRIG) in Copenhagen."

Of the many influential voices that have helped shape her life, Jane describes her time with Nelson Mandela while working at the Sydney Media Centre Board as "a touchstone for all that follows".

"Mr Mandela told me that if I wanted to make a real difference in the world, then I should gain experience in conflict resolution and focus my efforts on community development."

Making a difference has been a tireless passion that has propelled Jane around the world and beyond the sidelines in every regard.

"My real value is as a connector and I can see myself straddling all the areas I love to be engaged with - empowering women and girls, engaging with the arts and cultural industries, embracing the natural environment and having the opportunity to write."

While she misses her home in the Adelaide Hills, Jane has embraced life in New York.

"I love being a citizen of the world and yet I am enormously proud and grateful to be Australian."

You can follow Jane's experiences in New York at her blog

Story by Genevieve Sanchez

Doctor of Philosophy in Science 1983

New hope for poverty-stricken Africa

Scientific advances and technology are giving new hope to poverty-stricken African communities, thanks to the work of highly-skilled graduates such as Phil Toye.

The Adelaide-trained immunologist is overseeing a number of projects using livestock as a way out of poverty for millions of Africans.

Based at the Nairobi headquarters of the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI), Dr Toye is working with scientists and technical support people to develop better vaccines and diagnostics for farm animal diseases in the surrounding regions.

The most prevalent is East Coast Fever, a tick-borne disease which is responsible for the deaths of millions of cattle. African swine fever and contagious bovine pleuropneumonia (pneumonia aggravated by pleurisy) are two other livestock diseases under investigation.

In recent years Dr Toye and his team have made significant inroads.

"One area which has been quite successful is the work we have been doing to support the deployment of a vaccine against East Coast Fever," he said.

"The vaccine we have made has protected over 600,000 cattle in northern Tanzania. The calf mortality in this predominantly Maasai area has dropped from over 60% to less than 5%, so it is having a very positive effect."

The development of the pig industry in Africa is also shining a spotlight on swine fever, a disease which is gaining importance globally as evidenced by recent outbreaks in Europe.

"What's important is that we are developing these technologies while looking beyond them; we're looking at the social aspects of the livestock owners that these diseases affect, the ability of technology to meet end-user needs and how these technologies can be effectively rolled out."

The development of a pen-side test for pig tapeworm and a thermo-stable vaccine for sheep and goats - one that remains stable without the need for refrigeration - are two more recent outcomes of the ILRI team.

One of the major challenges facing Dr Toye and his team, however, is the lack of a "critical mass" of scientists working nearby.

"It is increasingly difficult to attract good scientists to remote regions like Africa, but we are still making progress.

"When I first came to Africa in 1986, the fax machine had not been invented. Now, thanks to email, Skype and teleconferences, we are collaborating with overseas universities and research institutes.

"Also, by getting out of the laboratories, interacting with African communities and seeing first-hand the problems confronting poor livestock owners, we are achieving some excellent results."

Story by Candy Gibson

Bachelor of Dental Surgery 2008

Bringing smiles to Nepal

Wei Shen has been bringing smiles to the children of Nepal as a volunteer dentist with international organisation Global Dental Relief.

The Bachelor of Dental Surgery graduate, who works in private practice in Warrnambool on the coast of Victoria, took the opportunity to travel to Kathmandu recently, combining volunteer work with a climb to the Mt Everest base camp.

"I was always interested in volunteer work. I used to volunteer for St. John's First Aid when I studied in Adelaide. I knew Nepal was a very poor country, so I wanted to give something back," Wei said.

Wei spent a week working out of a vacant school room performing examinations, fillings, and a few extractions on more than 300 Nepalese children from poor families who could not otherwise afford the expensive dental care. Many children had never seen a dentist and most of them had some degree of gum disease or tooth decay.

"The kids are bussed in from all over the Kathmandu valley. They are only seen once every two years simply because there are too many of them. Some are from public schools, some from private schools, and some are from children's homes for orphans or homeless kids".

Despite a lot of reading and research on the country prior to her trip, nothing could have prepared Wei for her experiences in Nepal. She was dismayed by the number of young people who have become victims of the human trafficking trade in Nepal.

"Some poor families living in the rural area have had to sell their children to the city people, hoping they will have a better life. However, most of these kids end up in human trafficking. Some of them become professional beggars in the city, some become rich people's house slaves, and some young girls are sold into prostitution.

"The more children I talked to, the more similar stories I heard. They had so little, but they had big hearts. They didn't have a Playstation or an iPad, but they were so happy with what little they did have and were willing to help others. They were also grateful for the opportunity to go to school."

Wei has returned to Australia with a new perspective gained from her experiences and the people she has met in Nepal.

"I have become more patient and more tolerant. In Australia, we talk about affordability of luxury items like cars, plasma TVs, and overseas holidays. In Nepal, they talk about affordability of daily necessities like food and clean drinking water.

"They showed me some new light in life that I would never have learned otherwise. We should never define ourselves by what we own, or what we can buy. Giving always feels much better than taking."

Story by Connie Dutton

With so many alumni working in diverse fields around the world, we want to know who you'd like to see profiled for Global Impact. Tell us by emailing

Jane Sloane
Bachelor of Arts 1985

Jane Sloane
Bachelor of Arts 1985

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Dr. Phil Toye
Doctor of Philosophy in Science 1983

Dr. Phil Toye
Doctor of Philosophy in Science 1983

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Wei Shen
Bachelor of Dental Surgery 2008

Wei Shen
Bachelor of Dental Surgery 2008

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