2018 Western Australian of the Year Awards

Professions Award Finalists

Proudly supported by APM, the Professions Award is presented in celebration of excellence resulting in major social, scientific or economic impact at a state, national or international level.

Meet our 2018 Professions Award finalists:

Professor Jonathan Carapetis

Professor Jonathan Carapetis is the Executive Director of Perth’s Telethon Kids Institute. A leading paediatrician and infectious diseases specialist, Professor Carapetis has particular expertise in Indigenous child health. He is also a Professor at The University of Western Australia and an infectious diseases consultant at Perth Children’s Hospital.

Since his appointment to the Telethon Kids Institute in 2012, Professor Carapetis has driven transformational change at the Institute, building it into one of the strongest not-for-profits in Western Australia. Under his leadership, Telethon Kids has created a new blueprint for a research institute – one that embraces its community and measures its success on its ability to make a difference, rather than focusing solely on traditional academic metrics such as journal publications and grant income. It is this guiding principle that has seen him make a real difference in the State.

For the past 25 years, much of Professor Carapetis’ research has been focused on rheumatic heart disease (RHD) in Aboriginal Australians. RHD is rare in most developed countries but Australia has one of the highest rates of the disease in the world due to its prevalence within Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities, particularly in Northern Australia. Professor Carapetis has made an international contribution and commitment to the reduction of RHD and he is considered one of the world’s foremost authorities on the condition. Consequently, he was the first non-US member invited to join the American Heart Association committee that determines the diagnostic criteria for rheumatic fever.

Professor Carapetis received the Northern Territory Australian of the Year Award in 2008 and was named as one of Australia’s brightest minds in the Bulletin Magazine’s ‘Smart 100’ list in 2007. He has also earned multiple fellowships and awards, is a member of several national and international boards and committees, and is an internationally sought-after plenary speaker.

Professor Harvey Millar

Professor Harvey Millar is an international leader in plant science research and the National Director of the ARC Centre for Excellence in Plant Energy Biology (PEB), which is headquartered at the University of Western Australia.

Professor Millar’s work is aimed at improving the energy efficiency of plants, which will play an integral role in the future bio-economy, both for food production and as a sustainable resource for new industries. More specifically, Professor Millar’s work on wheat and barley respiration, protein turnover and protein analysis is opening new opportunities in crop improvement, which is directly relevant to many Western Australian industries.

Professor Millar has led over $60 million worth of investment in plant science research in Western Australia over the last two decades from both government and industry. Building international networks, he has also drawn major plant science centres into productive partnerships with Western Australian plant scientists.

Professor Millar’s promising findings have established him as one of the world’s most cited plant scientists and earned him the honour of becoming the first Australian to receive the prestigious Charles Albert Shull Award in the US. In 2017, he was also the recipient of the Scientist of the Year Award at the Premier’s Science Awards.

Professor Robert Newton

Professor Robert Newton is Associate Dean of Medical and Exercise Sciences and Co-Director of the Exercise Medicine Research Institute at Edith Cowan University, and has over 35 years of academic and professional experience in exercise and sports science.

Professor Newton is internationally recognised in the top 10 academics in his field, and his scientific publications and translation of knowledge has changed the exercise and physical activity behaviour of millions of people. More specifically, his work has been integral in revolutionising the way in which many cancers are managed. Previously, it was believed that cancer patients should rest. However, Professor Newton’s work has highlighted the importance of exercise as medicine in order to improve quality of life, reduce treatment side-effects, and actually increase survival.

Professor Newton is currently leading a $10 million international trial involving 900 patients to investigate whether exercise medicine can increase survival for men with advanced prostate cancer and to understand the mechanisms by which exercise impacts cancer biology. The results of this study are likely to have a significant impact on the way in which cancers are managed.

With over 350 referenced scientific journal articles, two books and 16 book chapters published, Professor Newton’s work has been cited over 15,500 times and attracted over $34 million in competitive research grant funding.

In 2018, Professor Newton was the recipient of the Cancer Research Career Achievement Award from the Cancer Council WA, in recognition of his contribution to cancer survivorship.

Professor Deborah Terry AO

Professor Deborah Terry AO is the current Vice-Chancellor of Curtin University. She has had a long and distinguished career in tertiary education, research and university leadership. Her service to both fields began almost three decades ago when she graduated with a PhD in Social Psychology from the Australian National University. In 2015, she was made an Office in the General Division (AO) for distinguished service to education in the tertiary sector.

Prior to her role at Curtin University, Professor Terry had a long and distinguished career at the University of Queensland involving multiple leadership roles.  She is currently Deputy Chair of the Board of Universities Australia and a Board member of AARNET (provider of Australia’s network infrastructure for education and research), the Australia and New Zealand School of Government (ANZSOG) and a member of the Board for the Committee for Perth. She is also a Past President of the Academy of Social Sciences in Australia and a previous Chair of the Australian Council of Learned Academies and the Australian Research Council’s College of Experts in the Social, Behavioural and Economic Sciences.

In four years, Professor Terry has been instrumental in transforming Curtin University into one of Australia’s most rapidly rising universities (in terms of international rankings), firmly establishing it as WA’s largest university and one of the state’s largest single-site employers. As Vice-Chancellor, she oversaw the final approval for the establishment of Curtin Medical School (CMS), the only undergraduate medical program in WA, and which will play a key role in alleviating the doctor shortage in outer-metropolitan, rural and regional areas in WA.

Professor Terry has also overseen the establishment of new Curtin University campuses in Dubai and Mauritius. Her focus on international collaboration has strengthened WA’s academic partnerships around the world, and has provided more opportunities for scholars and students alike.

Professor James Trevelyan

Professor James Trevelyan has excelled as an engineer, researcher and educator since 1971 and has achieved international distinction for his research into robotics, landmine clearance, engineering practice and education. He is currently a Winthrop Professor in the Mechanical and Chemical Engineering School at the University of Western Australia, as well as a Fellow of Engineers Australia.

From 1977 until 1989, Professor Trevelyan led the team that developed the first sheep shearing robot for the wool industry, a major achievement in robotics at the time. In 1993, he led another team at UWA that created ‘Australia’s telerobot on the Web,’ which was one of the earliest demonstrations of ‘The Internet of Things.’

Professor Trevelyan then switched focus to developing landmine clearance methods, by creating new technologies, techniques and equipment to reduce costs and improve safety for de-miners. He was awarded a contract from the US Defense Department for this vitally important work, as well as honorary membership of the Society of Counter Ordnance Technology.

Professor Trevelyan’s expertise has earned him a range of accolades, including the American Society for Mechanical Engineers Award and the Japan Industrial Robotics Award for best conference papers. He is also the only Australian to receive the Engelberg Award for Science and Technology Development (1993), the top international robotics award.

Most recently, Professor Trevelyan has been using his profile to inspire engineers to help alleviate poverty and has invented a pioneering low-cost air conditioner that could reduce carbon dioxide emission by 12 percent, and which could have a life-changing impact on the lives of those in developing countries. He is now focusing on how engineering work is actually performed, and the way in which research in this field may eliminate poverty in the modern world.

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