Judy Agnes Raper

Honorary Doctor of Science

Citation delivered by Professor Sean Brawley Deputy Vice-Chancellor (strategy and assurance) at the University of Wollongong on the occasion of the admission of Judy Agnes Raper as a Doctor of Science (Honoris Causa) on 12 April 2023.


Chancellor, I present Professor Judy Agnes Raper AM.

A committed and outstanding scientist, educator, leader and motivator of women in science and education, Judy has had a stellar career and has an established reputation in engineering and leadership. Always encouraging and making a difference to people, Judy has paved the way for women in engineering, accomplishing many ‘firsts’ along the way. With 40 years standing as a chemical engineer with expertise in air and water pollution control, particle technology, research and education, Judy has an impressive research background and is the recipient of a number of prestigious awards. She has held a number of key senior leadership positions over the past twenty years including more than 10 years with the University of Wollongong as Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Research and Innovation). Judy is currently the Dean and CEO of TEDI-London – a collaborative, design led engineering organisation underpinned by three global partners: King’s College London, UNSW Sydney and Arizona State University.

Born in Hungary, Judy studied Engineering at the University of New South Wales, graduating with Honours in 1976. She went on to complete her PhD with UNSW in 1980. Following this, Judy undertook postdoctoral research at the University of Cambridge in the UK, working at the Atomic Energy Research Establishment at Harwell (1980–1982). On returning to Australia, Judy was the first female in engineering at the University of Newcastle and it was here and at the University of New South Wales that Judy rose through the ranks of academia.

In 1995, Judy joined the University of Sydney as the first and only female Dean of Engineering. In this role she revolutionised the undergraduate engineering programs. Judy introduced the highly innovative “Advanced Engineering Program”, enabling talented students to solve real engineering problems in their first semester of university. By the end of Judy’s tenure, this Sydney University course was the most sought-after engineering course in New South Wales and had gained a reputation internationally for innovation in engineering education.

In 2004, Judy took on the position of Head, Chemical & Biological Engineering at the Missouri University of Science and Technology (formerly known as University of Missouri-Rolla). Following this, in 2006, Professor Raper was offered the prestigious position of Division Director, Chemical, Bioengineering, Environmental Engineering and Transport Systems, National Science Foundation (NSF) in Washington, DC. It is rare for an Australian to be offered such a high-level position at the US NSF, and Judy’s appointment to head up the new division (which had resulted from the merging of two disparate divisions at the National Science Foundation) showed clear recognition of her leadership skills as well as her research reputation.

Following a number of impressive international appointments, Judy returned to Australia to join UOW in 2008 as Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Research). During the decade that she was with UOW, one of her fondest memories of her time at UOW was witnessing the Solar Decathlon students succeed at two international competitions in China and Dubai. Judy’s distinguished contributions included being responsible for a 228% increase in research funding and major interdisciplinary research efforts including the Global Challenges Program, and the development of the SMART Infrastructure Facility, the Sustainable Buildings Research Centre and the Australian Institute of Innovative Material (AIIM). Leading the development of the ARC Centre of Excellence in Biodiversity and Heritage, Judy was also successful in research infrastructure project funding applications of over $200M that went towards such developments as the regional innovation ecosystem in the iAccelerate Centre.  

Combined with her engineering technical and problem solving skills, Judy’s international experience has led to her often being described as a “breath of fresh air” when joining a new board because of her direct, collaborative and strategic approach. Throughout her career, Judy’s leadership capabilities, collaboration skills and lateral thinking have been much sought after, and she has been invited to Chair and contribute to many advisory and review committees here in Australia and abroad, including independent statutory authorities, research and development corporations, startups and private companies. Judy has served on numerous Boards including the Boards of Australian Nuclear Science and Technology (ANSTO), Unimutual Limited, Excellerate Australia (previously AutoCRC) and the Illawarra Health and Medical Research Institute (IHMRI) and currently serves as a non-executive Director of Waterco Pty. Ltd., an ASX listed company.

Her distinguished contributions in engineering, leadership and mentoring, and to the community throughout her career are widely recognised having received many prestigious awards. Judy was elected a Fellow of the Australian Academy of Technology and Honorary Fellow of Engineers Australia in 2003. In 2012 Judy was named one of Australia’s 100 most influential women and was also named by Engineers Australia as one of Australia’s top ten leading female Engineers for three consecutive years. In 2017, she won the Chemeca Medal for distinguished service to the practice of Chemical Engineering and in 2018 was awarded the Ada Lovelace Award for the most prominent female engineer in Australia.

Judy has an established reputation in leadership and is committed to supporting and nurturing women in engineering. Throughout her career, she has mentored many young women aspiring to be engineers and is seen as a strong advocate for female academics and the STEM disciplines. Judy has mentored many engineers in training and academics, particularly women, maintaining strong relationships with these mentees. In recognition of her commitment to the promotion of women in science, Judy’s alma mater UNSW named a female Leadership in Engineering award in her honour. This award is for effective leadership characterised by passion and commitment, setting bold objectives and achieving results, and motivating and mobilizing the talent of others for the benefit of the discipline, profession and the community at large. Judy embodies this awards’ high standards, and actively encourages and supports others to strive for excellence, be innovative and make valuable contributions to enhance the scientific community, the field of education and the wider community. In 2019, Judy was appointed a Member (AM) in the General Division of the order of Australia for her significant service to higher education and engineering.

Chancellor, today we honour Judy Raper for her outstanding contributions to engineering science and education, her commitment to effective collaboration and innovation at UOW, nationally and internationally, her passion and commitment to effective leadership, and her commitment to the support, nurturing and promotion of women in science.

It is a privilege to present Judy Raper AM to be admitted as a Doctor of Science (honoris causa).