Alex Zelinsky

Doctor of Science (honoris causa)

Citation delivered by Professor Gerard Sutton, Vice-Chancellor of the University of Wollongong on the occasion of the admission of Dr Alex Zelinsky as a Doctor of Science (honoris causa) on 13 December 2010.


Deputy Chancellor, I present Dr Alex Zelinsky.

The University of Wollongong has had many success stories in the Illawarra, across Australia and internationally. One of our most captivating and extraordinary stories is that of the Zelinsky family. No less than seven family members have graduated from the University over the course of fifty years. Today marks a milestone as we present Dr Alex Zelinsky with one of the University’s highest awards and celebrate his exceptional achievement.

Originally a systems engineer with BHP Steel, Alex Zelinsky has had a dynamic and varied career in research and development. Alex’s career began in our Department of Computer Science in 1984. He then worked as a research scientist in Japan before his appointment as Professor of Systems Engineering at the Australian National University. The other side of his considerable talent - his capacity for development and enterprise – became evident when he helped to establish Seeing Machines Pty Limited, a company dedicated to developing state-of-the-art computer vision systems.

Alex Zelinsky is currently the Group Executive for Information Sciences at CSIRO, Australia's national science agency. At the CSIRO, he is responsible for leading research
efforts in information and communication technology, mathematical sciences, astronomy and space sciences. He is also a Director of the CSIRO Information and Communication Technologies Centre. With over 250 researchers, the Centre is responsible for developing technologies that deliver the benefits of innovation to industry and position Australia to compete globally. Alex has focused on building research capabilities to address Australia’s national challenges and the issues of research commercialisation.

Alex Zelinsky’s standing and success has been recognised through numerous national and international awards. In 2004, he was selected as a Technology Pioneer by the World Economic Forum and Engineers Australia recently named him as one of Australia's most influential engineers. In 2009, the Federal Minister for Innovation, Industry, Science and Research, Senator Kim Carr, appointed Dr Zelinsky to the Information and Communication Technologies Industry Innovation Council.

Last year, Alex Zelinsky was invited to address one of our graduation ceremonies. Graduates in his discipline areas may have been surprised to hear him quote from Alice in Wonderland, saying: “if you don’t know where you are going then any road could take you there”. Alex Zelinsky has followed that advice with a spirit of adventure and dedication to open-ended enquiry. I am sure he would also endorse, as the basis for innovation, another quotation from Lewis Carroll (who was a mathematician after all): “Why, sometimes I've believed as many as six impossible things before breakfast”.

Dr Zelinsky’s achievements are an inspiration for students, graduates and his colleagues and they have placed him in the forefront of Australia’s scientific research.

Deputy Chancellor, it is an honour and privilege to present Dr Alex Zelinsky for admission as a Doctor of Science (Honoris Causa).