Professor Bruce Thom AM

Professor Bruce Thom AM

Citation delivered by Professor Sean Brawley, Pro Vice-Chancellor (Strategy and Planning) at the University of Wollongong, on the occasion of the admission of Bruce Graham Thom as an Honorary Doctor of Science (honoris causa) on 2 November 2022.


Chancellor, I present Professor Bruce Thom AM.

Professor Bruce Thom is an outstanding scholar and a passionate advocate for the discipline of geography, fusing academic rigour with applied research to embed scientific knowledge into public and private sector decision-making. Bruce is widely considered a leading expert in the field of coastal studies and the Australian coast and has published extensively. He completed his postdoctoral study with Louisiana State University‘s world-leading coastal research group. Joining the Australian National University as a Research Fellow in 1970, his work on the geomorphology of Australia’s eastern coast became a foundation for ongoing research and modelling of coastal behaviour and management globally.

Bruce was then appointed Foundation Professor of Geography in the University of NSW Faculty of Military Studies. Moving to the University of Sydney in 1985 as Head of the Department of Geography and then Pro-Vice-Chancellor (Research), Bruce led the establishment of the Australian Technology Park. He served as University of New England Vice-Chancellor from 1994-1996 before extending his impact through a diversity of board memberships and advisory roles.

Bruce has variously been Chair of the NSW Coastal Council, the Commonwealth’s State of the Environment Committee, and the Australian National Committee for the International Geosphere-Biosphere Program. He established the Australian Coastal Society and was instrumental in shaping the NSW Coastal Policy and NSW Coastal Management Act (2016). He continues to influence science and policy through the Wentworth Group of Concerned Scientists and remains a valued advisor to geographers, geoscientists and environmental scientists at UOW and beyond.

A Member of the Order of Australia (AM) and Fellow of the Australian Academy of Technological Sciences, Bruce has received many awards including the Royal Geographical Society of Australasia Silver Foundation Medal, the Geographical Society of New South Wales Macdonald Holmes Medal, and the Institute of Australian Geographers Griffith Taylor Medal. Earlier this year, he was also awarded the International Geographical Union Distinguished Practice Award 2022. Chancellor, Professor Bruce Thom’s contribution to our understanding and management of Australian coastal environments is unparalleled, as is his commitment to inspiring and supporting applied research in earth sciences.

It is a privilege to present Professor Bruce Graham Thom AM for a Doctor of Science, honoris causa.