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Leaders, innovators and game-changers celebrated

Leaders, innovators and game-changers celebrated

UOW hosts virtual 2021 Fellowship and Alumni Awards Celebration

Outstanding University of Wollongong (UOW) alumni and distinguished members of the community were recognised at the 2021 Fellowship and Alumni Awards Celebration on Thursday 7 October.

During the virtual celebration, five alumni awards were bestowed on some of the University’s top graduates, while four University Fellowships were conferred on dedicated community members.

University Fellowships confer the highest recognition for exceptional service to the University and its communities. Alumni Awards recognise the very best, those leading their industry and those who have set their sights on something bigger than themselves. 

The 2021 Alumni Awards were presented across five categories. The winners were Susan Zhang in the Young Alumni Award; Anuradha Gupta in the Alumni Award for Social Impact; Ray Tubman in the Alumni Award for Innovation and Entrepreneurship; Senior Professor Anthony Okely in the Alumni Award for Research and Scholarship; and Monica Barone in the Alumni Award for Professional Excellence.

Chris Grange, Associate Professor Brian Jones, Margot Mains, and Nicky Sloan were all conferred as University Fellows during the ceremony.

In her opening remarks, UOW Vice-Chancellor, Professor Patricia M. Davidson, welcomed the distinguished Alumni Award recipients and new University Fellows to the Fellowship and Alumni Awards Celebration, her first since becoming Vice-Chancellor of the University.

“As a proud UOW alumna myself, I am honoured to be joining you all for this momentous occasion on your personal and professional journey, as we celebrate the excellence of our graduates and the contributions of our newest University Fellows,” Professor Davidson said.

“We take great pride in the achievements of our UOW alumni, who reflect our University’s values and commitment to a better future and who go on to make vital contributions at a local, national and international level in their chosen field.

“Congratulations to all of the winners and finalists in tonight’s awards and a warm welcome to our new University Fellows. We hope you all enjoy a long and rewarding connection to the University of Wollongong community. We’re honoured to have you part of the UOW family.”

Chris Grange, Associate Professor Brian Jones, Margot Mains, and Nicky Sloan who were all conferred as University Fellows during the virtual 2021 Fellowship and Alumni Awards Celebration.

Clockwise from top left: 2021 University Fellowship recipients Chris Grange, Associate Professor Brian Jones, Nicky Sloan and Margot Mains.

University Fellowship Recipients:

Chris Grange

Chris Grange’s outstanding service and commitment to UOW, for over a quarter of a century, was a driving force in UOW’s transformation across its infrastructure, productivity and reputation.

Joining UOW in 1988, Chris quickly became Director of Personnel Services and over the next two decades presided over significant change in the University’s Personnel and Finance Services portfolios. In 2005, Chris was appointed to UOW’s highest administrative position, Vice-Principal (Administration). Under his leadership operating revenues, assets and major capital investments grew dramatically, and research outputs and corresponding increases in staff tripled. He nurtured a fruitful and positive relationship between the administrative team and the broader campus community.  

In his seven years in the role, he oversaw a comprehensive portfolio spanning student recruitment and administration, student accommodation, buildings and grounds, financial management, human resources, Advancement, UniCentre, and the Performance Indicators project and development of the Innovation Campus.

Chris played a vital role in the success of many projects, including the development of the Innovation Campus and Sciences Teaching Facility, Early Start, and the UOW Master Plan. He was also instrumental in securing a $7 million philanthropic contribution to Early Start and $35 million in federal funding for the SMART Infrastructure Facility.

Associate Professor Brian Jones

In a distinguished career spanning almost five decades, Associate Professor Brian Jones has made an extraordinary contribution to teaching and learning, curriculum development, research and governance at UOW, and lent his expertise as a scientific advisor in coastal estuary management to the benefit of the Illawarra community.

Brian is an internationally respected leader in the fields of environmental geology, sedimentology and stratigraphy, sought out for his unique expertise in identifying fine-grained clastic sedimentary rocks. His advanced knowledge of water supply and quality and the sustaining of coastal and marine environments, has informed crucial modelling of future environmental scenarios in our region and beyond.

Brian’s contribution to Earth Sciences at UOW is immense. Commencing in 1974, he has served as Head of the Department of Geology, Sub-Dean of the Faculty of Science and Director of GeoQuEST Research Centre, and was instrumental in establishing the former School of Geosciences.

He has bolstered UOW’s global reputation as a world-leading institution and nurtured excellence in research, throughout his career directly supervising 52 PhD students, 18 Master of Science theses and research projects and 117 honours students.

He remains an Associate Investigator in the Centre of Excellence for Australian Biodiversity and Heritage, Associate Editor of the Australian Journal of Earth Sciences, and continues to supervise and mentor higher degree research students.

Margot Mains

Margot Mains is a health expert, strategic thinker and leader who has dedicated her career to improving the health and wellbeing outcomes of communities in the Illawarra, across Australia and overseas.

Since being appointed CEO of the Illawarra Shoalhaven Local Health District (ISLHD) in 2014, under her leadership, the district has benefited from more than $1.2 billion in funding for new and projected infrastructure projects including the new Bulli Hospital and Aged Care Centre, a community centre at Warrawong, the redevelopment of Shoalhaven Hospital and the new Shellharbour Hospital.

Margot played a decisive role in establishing the Illawarra Shoalhaven Suicide Prevention Collaborative and committing ISLHD to the Birthing on Country Program, an initiative to address the maternal and perinatal gap in health outcomes for Indigenous mothers and babies.

Recently, Margot has led the ISLHD team’s effective planning and management in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, including the region’s vaccination program.

Margot has built a thriving research culture into the organisation and beyond, creating a dedicated research unit supporting the Illawarra Health and Medical Research Institute (IHMRI), and as a member of IHMRI’s board.

Margot chairs the executive steering committee of the Centre for Health Research Illawarra Shoalhaven Population in UOW’s Australian Health Services Research Institute and is an active member of the community.

Nicky Sloan

Nicky Sloan, Chief Executive Officer of the Community Industry Group, is a community leader and a passionate driver of social justice in regional development. Through her influential leadership and advocacy for community service organisations across NSW, Nicky has helped improve the lives of current and future generations.

In a diverse career, spanning governance and strategy, research and policy development, partnerships, advocacy and collaboration, Nicky has worked tirelessly to promote social justice, reduce disadvantage, and ensure that economic development initiatives support inclusion and positive social and community development.

She has contributed through numerous advisory panels, reference groups and consultative bodies, and currently sits on multiple boards. Nicky is a well-respected leader, sought-after expert speaker and generous mentor.

Nicky maintains a deep connection with UOW, both professionally and personally, and actively works to strengthen the University’s reputation and impact.

Since 2012, Nicky has been an active member of the UOW Reference Group linking the University with its community and facilitating broader discussion of strategic issues. She has also inspired and educated the next generation of professionals as a casual academic lecturer and tutor.

Susan Zhang, Ray Tubman, Monica Barone, Senior Professor Anthony Okely and Anuradha Gupta,

Clockwise from top left: 2021 Alumni Award Winners Susan Zhang, Ray Tubman, Monica Barone, Senior Professor Anthony Okely and Anuradha Gupta.

2021 Alumni Award Winners:

Young Alumni Award


Ms Marlee Silva


Susan Zhang

Susan Zhang has rapidly scaled the heights of the global technology sector, having worked for global technology giants including Google and TikTok and now Amazon. Susan has established herself as a serial entrepreneur and innovator with sharp business acumen and growth mindset, and forged strong China- Australia links to advance business and cross-cultural relations – all in the space of just ten years.

Alumni Award for Social Impact


Anuradha Gupta

Anuradha Gupta is a leader dedicated to improving the lives of billions of disadvantaged people living in poverty through improved health, social and economic opportunity. Anuradha steered the world’s largest flagship public health program to improve access to affordable healthcare in India and recently has been dedicated to increasing immunisation access in low-income nations.

Alumni Award for Innovation and Entrepreneurship


Mr Budi Handoko


Ray Tubman

Ray Tubman, founder of Illawarra-based software company FinoComp, has developed leading-edge technology solutions that have revolutionised the wealth management industry and established him as a trailblazer in the field of wealthtech. Ray is driven to support the next generation, employing predominantly UOW graduates.

Alumni Award for Research and Scholarship


Professor Lindsay Oades


Senior Professor Anthony Okely

On a mission to tackle childhood obesity, world-leading expert on physical activity and children, Senior Professor Anthony Okely from School of Health and Society, has influenced the lives and futures of children, families and communities around the world. His pioneering research on physical activity, sedentary behaviour and sleep in children has translated his research into national and international policy and practice.

Alumni Award for Professional Excellence


Emeritus Professor John Daly

Mr Steven Young


Monica Barone

Monica Barone, CEO of City of Sydney Council, has had an extraordinary career at the forefront of public policy and service, establishing herself as an exceptional community-centred leader in environmental, social, cultural economic and infrastructure planning. Monica is a leader who has dedicated her expertise and passion to advancing communities, arts and culture, and climate action.