Academy of the Social Sciences in Australia Fellows Gordon Waitt, Mark McLelland, Terry Walter

Top researchers honoured by Academy of Social Sciences

Top researchers honoured by Academy of Social Sciences

UOW Professors Gordon Waitt, Mark McLelland and Terry Walter elected as Fellows

Three University of Wollongong (UOW) academics have been elected as Fellows of the Academy of Social Sciences in Australia (ASSA) in recognition of their distinguished achievements and the exceptional contributions they have made to their disciplines.

Professor Gordon Waitt, Professor Mark McLelland and Professor Terry Walter were announced as Fellows on Monday 11 November, and will be inducted into the Academy on Wednesday 13 November in a ceremony in Canberra.

In total, 37 leading economists, lawyers, psychologists, sociologists, geographers and philosophers from across Australia were elected as new Fellows.

Academy President Professor Jane Hall said the new members bring an exciting and impressive depth of expertise to the work of the Academy.

“These new members are really at the cutting edge in social research and policy, and they’ve all made enormous contributions to their fields,” she said.

Professor Gordon Waitt

Gordon Waitt is Head of the School of Geography and Sustainable Communities and a member of the Australian Centre for Culture Environment Society and Space (ACCESS). He said election to the Academy provided exciting new possibilities.

“In the School of Geography and Sustainable Communities, Professors Pauline McGuirk and Chris Gibson are already ASSA Fellows. My election underscores how the objectives of the Academy strongly resonate with those of the School, the Faculty of Social Sciences, and ACCESS.

“Together, Pauline, Chris and I have a unique opportunity to work with other Felllows to promote research, teaching and offer advice on issue of importance across the local, regional, national and international level.”

A cultural geographer, Professor Waitt is interested in the social impacts of energy poverty and household sustainability. Central to his research is the importance of everyday experiences. He employs mixed-qualitative research methods, conducting fieldwork across Australia, but primarily in Wollongong and Sydney.

His latest research investigates the challenges of bicycles as a solution to traffic congestion, young people’s use of sports betting applications and the everyday experiences of individuals who rely upon powered mobility devices.

“Geography is a discipline that offers a whole range of theoretical and methodological tools to help understand the world through a focus on the spatial. The discipline of Geography does not shy away from researching the social and environmental challenges of our time,” Professor Waitt said.

“Once, the social sciences were built upon notions of representative samples and everyday experiences were dismissed as anecdotes or at best stories. While quantitative research is still fundamental to the social sciences, my research is built upon an argument that suggest that experiences offer important insights to help explain why we behave in particular ways.

“My focus has been on the mundane, routine activities like, switching on electric appliances, driving a car, walking, and most recently cycling. Hence, these ideas become important when thinking about the challenges posed by increased energy costs, changing climates and urban liveability.”

Professor Terry Walter

Terry Walter is a Professorial Fellow in the School of Accounting, Economics and Finance. His main role at the University of Wollongong is to provide research mentoring for academic staff and higher research degree students.

“I am flattered and delighted to be a Fellow of the Academy of Social Sciences in Australia,” Professor Walter said.

“Social science research is sometimes undervalued but the combined impact of the ASSA Fellows is undeniable.”

Professor Walter specialises in applied empirical research in a wide range of topic areas. These include empirical tests of finance theory as it relates to the behaviour of capital markets; models of earnings management, accounting information and capital markets, market microstructure, takeovers and mergers and initial public offers, anomalies in empirical capital market evidence; behavioural finance, performance of mutual funds, executive remuneration and corporate governance.

His work on executive remuneration, which outlined 10 principles of design for executive remuneration contracts, was recently submitted to the APRA inquiry into Strengthening Prudential Requirements for Remuneration. 

“My research has primarily involved empirical tests to investigate and resolve anomalies. My recent work on the fees charged in superannuation and the principles for the design of efficient managerial remuneration systems have wide ranging implications,” Professor Walter said.

“My work helps make our capital markets more fair and efficient. Markets with these attributes benefit the supply of low-cost capital to a myriad of investment opportunities.”

Professor Mark McLelland

Mark McLelland is a Professor of Gender and Sexuality Studies in the School of Humanities and Social Inquiry. His research has focused on the post-war history of Japanese cultures of sexuality and the development of the internet in Japan.

Sexuality and social transformation in Japan is an ongoing research interest that considers how global movements of people and knowledge impact Japanese constructs of sexuality and gender.

Major publications from this project include the book Queer Japan: From the Pacific War to the Internet Age and Love, Sex and Democracy in Japan during the American Occupation. The latest output from this project is a 2018 essay on Japanese sexologist Takahashi Tetsu in the University of California Press collection A Global History of Sexual Science.

Professor McLelland is currently working on a follow-on volume to his book on sexuality during the American occupation of Japan.

He has held teaching and research positions in Australia, Japan and the United States, where he was the 2007/08 Toyota Visiting Professor of Japanese at the University of Michigan. His pioneering work on the history of sexual minority cultures in Japan has been the topic of invited presentations at universities in the U.S., the United Kingdom, Singapore, Canada, Australia and Japan.

Professor McLelland serves on a number of scholarly and advisory bodies including a three-year term on the Australian Research Council’s (ARC) College of Experts (2015-18). He has also served as an expert reader for the ARC Discovery Grants scheme and the Research Grants Council of Hong Kong.

The Executive Dean of the Faculty of Law, Humanities and the Arts, Professor Theo Farrell, congratulated Professor McLelland on his election to the Fellowship

“We are delighted at this recognition of Professor Mark McLelland’s huge contribution to gender and sexuality studies and, in particular, to scholarly understanding of queer culture in Japan,” Professor Farrell said.

“Mark is an inspiration to all humanities scholars, in the way he boldly takes his research in new and exciting directions. In recent years, his work has explored global cultural literacy in the age of the internet.

“Mark’s election as a Fellow of the Australian Academy of Social Sciences is richly deserved.”


The Academy of the Social Sciences in Australia was established in 1971 to advance social policy and thinking by promoting research and its application.

The social sciences cover the disciplines of anthropology, demography, geography, linguistics, sociology, management, accounting, economics and economic history, marketing, statistics, history, law, philosophy, political science, education, psychology and social medicine.

Fellowship of the Academy of Social Sciences (FASSA) is an honour conferred for scholarly distinction in research or the advancement of social sciences. Fellows are elected by their peers in recognition of distinguished achievements and exceptional contributions made to the social sciences.