Distinguished staff and alumni recognised with Australia Day Honours

29 January 2018

Distinguished members of the ANU community have been recognised in the 2018 Australia Day Honours for their contribution to Australia.

Leading the Honours list is Emeritus Professor Lewis Mander, who received the nation's top honour by being appointed a Companion in the Order of Australia (AC) for his eminent service to organic chemistry and to higher education.

He is joined by Professor Martin Banwell, from Research School of Chemistry, and former ANU Council member Emeritus Professor Michael Coper from the ANU College of Law, who were both appointed Officers in the Order of Australia (AO).

The ANU Medical School's Associate Professor Jennifer Thomson and rural teacher and clinical supervisor Dr Marjorie Cross were also honoured. Dr Thomson was appointed a Member of the Order of Australia (AM) for her service to medicine and medical education, and Dr Cross was awarded a medal in the Order of Australia (OAM), for her service to doctors in rural Australia.

Acting Vice-Chancellor Professor Margaret Harding said the latest Honours were well deserved and the winners had made a magnificent contribution to the University and to Australian society.

"The Australia Day Honours are magnificent recognition for members of our ANU community who have given a lifetime of service to improve life both in Australia and around the world," Professor Harding said.

"On behalf of the University, I offer my sincere congratulations to Lew, Martin, Michael, Jennifer and Marjorie and thank them for their contribution to the University. They are leaders in their fields who are helping to inspire the next generation of leaders.

"I also congratulate all ANU alumni and friends of the University who have been honoured on Australia Day."

Professor Mander is one of the world's leading organic chemists whose landmark research into in the gibberellin (GA) family of plant growth regulators has helped improve cereal crop production.

He said he was surprised but also very pleased to receive the Australia Day honour.

"I am very pleased by the recognition of about 50 years of research," he said. "It reflects very well on ANU and the science of chemistry.

"This also acknowledges all my colleagues and students - about 35 PhD students and another 35 doing postdoctoral studies. It's wonderful that they share in the recognition from this honour."

Professor Banwell was appointed an Officer for distinguished service to science education as an academic, author and researcher, particularly in the field of synthetic organic chemistry, to scientific institutes, and as a mentor of emerging scientists.

"I am both delighted and greatly honoured by this appointment," Professor Banwell said.

"It is really a reflection of an exceptional amount of dedicated effort by a truly outstanding group of co-workers that I have had the great fortune to be associated with over many years.

"Of course, my wonderful family, dear friends (especially neighbours) and my colleagues at both the ANU and the University of Melbourne, where I was based earlier in my career, also need to be recognised for all their contributions in helping me over the years.

"I have been particularly fortunate to have had a number of wonderful mentors during my career and I hope I can pass on their extraordinary generosity of spirit to others."

Professor Coper, a former Dean of the ANU College of Law, was recognised for distinguished service to legal education, and to the law, as an academic, author and administrator, through advisory roles, and to transport safety.

"I am very honoured to have received this award, especially so because of its implicit recognition of the great work of the ANU College of Law, which I had the privilege to lead as Dean for many years. One does things as part of a team, and I had a great team and great colleagues, whose work has significant impact and significance," he said.

"The aspect of this recognition of which I am most proud is my long-standing mission to re-orient the idea of a legal career from one of selfish material reward to the more altruistic idea of using the law to make the world a better place. Hence our focus at ANU on law reform and social justice.

"I am also honoured that the award recognises my contribution to road safety, through working with highly committed colleagues in the trucking industry dedicated to that goal."

Dr Thomson has been an Honorary Associate Professor in the ANU Medical School Academic Unit of General Practice since 2010, and was part of a team to win a VC's award in 2015 for an Indigenous Health stream.

"It's a great honour to receive this award. The recognition belongs to so many people involved in general practice and general practice medical education," she said.

Dr Thomson said it had been a privilege to be part of the Indigenous health stream at ANU.

"It's a unique Australian opportunity for our medical students to learn a lot more about Indigenous health," Dr Thomson said.     

"There are so many patients, GPs and communities, including Aboriginal communities, that make such a great contribution to educating our doctors of the future and I've been privileged to work with them."

Dr Cross has worked as a rural GP since 1980 and has been a rural teacher and clinical supervisor with ANU since 2006. She has been voted best rural teacher at the ANU Medical School in 2005, 2013 and again in 2017.

"I owe a debt of gratitude to my husband, sons and daughter who I suspect were behind this award, along with all the people who work in rural medicine. I have always been supported by the practice nurses and doctors I work with and I am so pleased they too have been recognised through this award," Dr Cross said.

"I love being a teacher and working with medical students and with doctors in training for General Practice.

"In my work as a GP in Bungendore and Captain's Flat, I've always been inspired and impressed with the rural women I meet in my patient base. They may not have had the opportunities in life due to their location, but many have overcome enormous obstacles and poured their efforts and talents into family and community life. I have learnt so much from them and they have made some wonderful contributions in areas like animal welfare and arts and crafts which really enhance the community."

Among former ANU staff and alumni, Emeritus Professor Michael Barber, Chair of the National Computational Infrastructure (NCI), a former Flinders University Vice-Chancellor and a former ANU Dean of science and head of maths, was appointed an Officer (AO) for his service to science and education.

Businessman and Visiting Fellow at the College of Physical and Mathematical Sciences, Dr Gregory Clark, was appointed a Companion (AC) for his service to business, philanthropy and to science as a physicist, while Professor Trevor McDougall, who was a research fellow at the ANU Research School of Earth Sciences in the early 1980s, was also appointed a Companion (AC).

Former Director General of ACT Health Dr Peggy Brown, a former adjunct Professor at ANU who served on the advisory board for the Centre for personalised immunology, was appointed an Officer (AO).