Academic Staff Awards Gala Dinner

Academic Staff Awards Gala Dinner

Macquarie University is proud to celebrate its long history of teaching and research excellence.

This year, we are acknowledging the nexus between teaching and research by bringing our staff and students together to jointly celebrate the winners for both the Vice-Chancellor’s Learning and Teaching Awards and the Research Excellence Awards.

Excellence in teaching and research are fundamentally interdependent and, together, ensure our staff and students are at the cutting edge of learning and innovation.

Order of proceedings

Academic Staff Awards Gala Dinner
Thursday 30 November 2017
6.30pm – 9pm
MUSE Function Rooms, Building C7A, Level 3

  • 6.30pm: Arrival and registration with refreshments served in the foyer
  • 6.55pm: Guests, please take your seats
  • 7.05pm: Proceedings begin with a welcome from event Master of Ceremonies Professor Sakkie Pretorius, Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Research) and Professor Kevin Jameson, Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Academic) and Registrar.
  • 7.10pm: Welcome to Country by Darug Elder: Uncle Bob Webb
  • 7.20pm: Welcome address from Professor S Bruce Dowton, Vice-Chancellor.
    Main course is served.
  • 7.50pm: Keynote address – Julia Baird
  • 8:20pm: Guests are invited to enjoy dessert and the remainder of the evening
  • 8.50pm: Closing thanks from Master of Ceremonies
  • 9pm: Gala Event concludes

Keynote address - Julia Baird

JuliaBairdJulia Baird is an author, broadcaster and journalist, currently host of The Drum on ABC TV.  She was formerly Deputy Editor of Newsweek, NYC, has written for publications in the US and is also a columnist for The New York Times.  She is the author of Media Tarts: How the Australian Press Frames Female Politicians and has just released Victoria: The Queen a biography of Queen Victoria for Random House, New York and Harper Collins, Australia.

Ms Julia Baird appears by arrangement with Claxton Speakers International.


Canapes on arrival: 6.30pm – 7pm

  • Cold tea smoked duck with chili jam on crispy wonton (GF)
  • Cold goats cheese pannacotta with quince and rosemary brioche (V)
  • Cold Snowy River trout and fennel crostini (GF, DF)

Mains – alternative serve: from 7.20pm

Dessert – alternative serve: from 8.15pm

  • Glazed strawberry and creamy ricotta cheesecake served with a fresh strawberry, white balsamic and mint salad
  • Coconut pannacotta, saffron pears, pineapple wafers, Persian fairy floss (GF, DF)
  • Tea and coffee service

Meet our Research Excellence Award winners

The Jim Piper Award for Excellence in Research Leadership

Associate Professor Melanie Bishop

Faculty of Science and Engineering

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Associate Professor Melanie Bishop leads a research group of 15 at Macquarie that is investigating how the coastal zone might be sustainably developed to protect estuarine and near shore biodiversity and its important socio-economic values. Her vision is to underpin environmental management of our coasts with cutting-edge science. 

Associate Professor Bishop tackles questions that policy makers need to be addressed, while simultaneously making important contributions to ecological thinking. Her research program has three major themes: (1) uncovering the processes that maintain biodiversity in healthy ecosystems; (2) understanding the mechanisms by which human activities destabilise biodiversity and its associated functions; and (3) investigating innovative solutions for restoring, rehabilitating and enhancing biodiversity in urban settings. 

The focus of the team is on temperate coastal ecosystems, which are not only one of the most important ecosystems in terms of carbon sequestration and marine productivity, but are also areas that have borne the brunt of human impacts. These ecosystems do not have the “glamour” profile of coral reefs, or polar ecosystems, but are, if anything, of greater ecological importance in terms of the services they provide.

Excellence in Higher Degree Research Supervision of the Year Award

Professor Paul Haynes

Faculty of Science and Engineering

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Professor Paul A. Haynes graduated from Macquarie University with a Ph.D. in chemistry in 1994. After postdoctoral Fellowship positions at the Rockefeller University in New York and the University of Washington in Seattle, he was a principal scientist at the Tory Mesa Research Institute in San Diego, before taking up a position as an associate Professor at the University of Arizona in Tucson. He returned to Australia in 2006 to take up a position at Macquarie, and has been a Professor in the Department of Chemistry and Biomolecular Sciences since 2011. 

He is a senior editor of Proteomics, Director of the ARC Training Centre for Molecular Technologies in the Food Industry, vice president of the Asia Oceania Agricultural Proteomics Organisation, and Departmental Director of Higher degree Research. His research interests lie in quantitative proteomics analysis across a range of biological systems, mainly focusing on plant and environmental proteomics. Paul’s philosophy of higher degree research supervision is simple and can be articulated in a single sentence. The role of a HDR supervisor is to provide the necessary resources and support to enable the student to complete their studies and receive their degree. 

Resources can mean financial resources, access to instrumentation, computational resources or other equipment, reagents, consumables, access to plant and animal materials, access to my extensive network of research contacts, and many other things. Similarly, support can mean lending an ear to listen or a shoulder to cry on, or it can mean providing training in research techniques, or training in writing, or providing essential proofreading skills, or sometimes just a few well-chosen words of encouragement, and much more. In summary, whatever is necessary to make sure the student completes.

Excellence in Research: Five Future Shaping Research Priorities (Prosperous Economies)

Professor Mark Wiggins

Faculty of Human Sciences

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Skilled diagnosis is critically important in a range of environments including medicine, electricity, software engineering, and sport. It enables the timely recognition of changes in a system state which provides the basis for effective interventions. However, despite the importance of diagnosis, few practitioners have an accurate understanding of their diagnostic performance. 

For some practitioners, this results in the perpetuation of poor diagnostic skills leading to inefficiencies and errors. In environments such as electricity control and health, the consequences of these diagnostic errors can be severe. Using carefully designed experiments, the team, led by Professor Wiggins, discovered that it is possible to identify the level of diagnostic performance of practitioners based on their utilisation of cues. We have since constructed and tested an on-line software platform (EXPERTise 2.0) that can be adapted to almost any environment and which assesses performance against a normed dataset. 

The software then generates a detailed report that assists both organisations and individuals to identify areas of strength and development.  For operators, the opportunity to receive feedback concerning their diagnostic performance enables targeted approaches to training and development so they can engage in activities that will have a tangible impact on their personal performance. For organisations, more targeted feedback provides an opportunity to reduce training costs through individualised, and more directed training initiatives.  Since 2013, our research into cue utilisation has included 12 Higher Degree Research students (including 5 completions), 6 Honours students, and 11 Master of Organisational Psychology (Thesis) students. We have received in excess of $1.6 million in external research funding (including $350,000 in cash support from industry partners), and have published 29 refereed journal articles/book chapters (including one edited text). Our research has engaged more than 20 external organisations across a range of domains from electricity transmission and distribution, to health and sporting associations.

Excellence in Research: Five Future Shaping Research Priorities (Secure Planet)

Dr Kira Westaway

Faculty of Science and Engineering

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Understanding who we are and where we have come from is at the heart of the human consciousness and has a bearing on how we perceive our species. Despite this motivation, there is still a great deal we don’t know, particularly how and when modern humans first migrated down through Southeast Asia (SEA) into Australia. The path and timing of human dispersal through a key region like SEA, our nearest neighbour and the source area to our ancestors, is still disputed. 

Recently, the application of optically-stimulated luminescence (OSL) dating has been a game changer in the field of Asian human evolution and has contributed to our current understanding of human dispersals enroute to Australia. By pioneering the application of different luminescence dating techniques to this region, I have successfully established chronologies for key sites that have provided evidence to address the most challenging and unresolved questions in human evolution and dispersal; when did anatomically modern humans (AMH) first arrive in SEA? Why did they migrate at that time and who did they interact with?  

Research into human dispersal is dominated by an understanding of how humans are influenced by changing environments. Homo floresiensis as a species was intimately connected to the changing environmental conditions, and the waxing rainforest corridors into SEA were responsible for the faunal turnovers that heralded the demise of Homo erectus and he precursor to AMH migration into the region. An understanding of the SEA sequence of events, their ecological consequences and how fauna and humans adapted to these changing environments from a prehistory perspective is vital for predicting the effects of future environmental change. Understanding how past human populations in SEA were affected by and adapted to environmental changes is also relevant to the prehistory and cultural heritage of Australia’s indigenous communities, who travelled through this region to reach our shores. A long-term perspective is equally relevant to forecasting future challenges to communities living in environmentally sensitive areas of tropical Australia, by providing much-needed insights into the natural environmental variability in the region and the faunal response to these changes. Therefore, this research supports our desire to understand how humans can live in a changing environment and encourages us to learn the lessons from our past.

Excellence in Research: Five Future Shaping Research Priorities (Healthy People)

Associate Professor Kerry Sherman

Faculty of Human Sciences

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More than 16,000 Australian women are diagnosed with breast cancer each year. Between 30-40% of these cancer-affected women, and the increasing numbers of women with genetic breast cancer risk, will require mastectomy, entailing surgical removal of the breast tissue. All of these women face the complex, difficult and often time-pressured decision of whether, how, and when to reconstruct their breast following mastectomy.  

Overall Objective: This program of research, led by Associate Professor Kerry Sherman, fills the void in provision of clinical resources and support of breast cancer patients by developing BRECONDA (Breast RECONstruction Decision Aid), an evidence-based online decisional support tool for breast cancer patients considering breast reconstruction, and for surgeons and clinicians to have a reliable, relevant resource to complement in-person consultations providing this resource to their patients. Following best practice, this research was conducted over several stages entailing: (1) Development and piloting of the BRECONDA intervention; (2) Evaluation of its effectiveness; (3) Assessment of user perspectives of BRECONDA; (4) Determination of cost-effectiveness of the resource; and, (5) Nationwide implementation and translation of the resource.  

Findings of the initial pilot testing and subsequent evaluation trials demonstrated that BRECONDA is a highly valued, trusted and cost-effective resource to support decision making across the spectrum of breast cancer patients, enabling them to make informed decisions that reflect their personal values and preferences. Clinicians highly value BRECONDA as a decisional support resource that complements in-person consultations. In light of these outstanding findings, the Breast Cancer Network Australia has partnered with Sherman (MQ) to fully implement and translate the BRECONDA intervention nationally, providing unrestricted access to this valuable decisional support resource for women, and clinicians, across Australia and beyond. In addition, BRECONDA is being translated internationally through collaborations with Dutch and Canadian breast cancer-related researchers.

Excellence in Research: Five Future Shaping Research Priorities (Resilient Societies)

Professor Kathryn Millard

Faculty of Arts

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One of the most difficult dilemmas we can face is having to respond to directions that go against our conscience. In the early 1960s psychologist Stanley Milgram, in seeking to understand the Holocaust, ran a series of controversial experiments on obedience. Stanley Milgram’s ‘Obedience to Authority’ paradigm appears to show that most of us will comply with such directions. 

The ‘Obedience to Authority’ experiments have been influential in many fields including psychology, sociology, legal studies, history, philosophy, ethics, the creative arts and management studies. Fifty years after Stanley Milgram’s own landmark film Obedience (1965), this cross-disciplinary project across the Creative Arts and Social Psychology re-staged and re-examined this hugely influential but often misunderstood paradigm. Reinterpreting Milgram’s Obedience Studies via Documentary Film was supported by an ARC Discovery DP13010101108 (2013-4), which Professor Millard led with Partner Investigator Professor Steven Reicher (Psychology and Neuroscience, St. Andrews). 

Reicher advised on the psychological aspects of the project and appeared as an interview subject in her film, Shock Room, which authored the project’s findings. Reinterpreting Milgram’s Obedience Studies via Documentary Film challenged Milgram’s experiment by demonstrating that firstly, there were many versions which contained as much evidence of resistance as obedience; secondly, that the relationship between the participants in Milgram’s experiments might better be described as a partnership on the basis of shared goals; and thirdly, that the experiments were as much art as science. As I demonstrated in my invited contribution to the Journal of Social Science’s special issue on the 50th anniversary of Milgram’s Obedience studies, they double as laboratory dramas and experiments.

Excellence in Research: Five Future Shaping Research Priorities (Innovative Technologies)

Associate Professor Richard Mildren

Faculty of Science and Engineering

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Rich Mildren (Australian Research Council Future Fellow 2010-2014) is an Associate Professor in the Department of Physics and Astronomy. His research is in the development of novel and versatile photonic sources, instrumentation and applications. His PhD and early postdoctoral research was in the plasma kinetics of high power metal vapour lasers. 

He has studied ultrafast lasers at the National Research Council in Pisa, Italy. For 3 years (2005-2008) he led R&D for a University spin-off company in wavelength-switchable medical lasers, during which time he brought several medical laser products through to the stage of medical device regulatory approval. His most recent focus, conducted in the MQ Photonics Research Centre, is in the nonlinear optical properties of Group IV materials, particularly diamond.  The Team has solved a key problem in optics and developed a novel generic laser technology that has greatly enhanced ranges in power and wavelength. 

The technology takes advantage of the super-material properties of diamond to surpass the performance of competing technologies, potentially by a massive margin, offering exciting prospects for disruption in laser research and applications. The Team has laid the foundations for the technology through key conceptual demonstrations and underpinning theory and models. Recognition for their world leading standing in this new field has been obtained through winning 9 Category 1 and 3 research grants, 16 invited conference presentations, and associated successes in several new Australian government innovation programs.

Macquarie University Early Career Research of the Year: Humanities, Business and Social Sciences

Dr Carly Johnco

Faculty of Human Sciences

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Dr Carly Johnco is an Early Career Researcher, three years post-PhD, and a registered Clinical Psychologist. She has an outstanding track record to date with 35 peer-reviewed publications (49% first author), 8 book chapters (88% first author) and over $1 million in research funding, including a Macquarie University Research Fellowship (an MQRF). 

Dr Johnco's research is focused on understanding the developmental mechanisms underpinning anxiety disorders in two underserved populations, youth and older adults. These interests include how fear learning, cognition, attention and memory impact the development, maintenance and treatment of anxiety problems. Her research has aimed to identify whether mechanisms that trigger anxiety differ in childhood and older age from those in working-aged adults, and whether these developmental differences may impact on the efficacy of existing treatments. Anxiety disorders are characterised by excessive fear responses to particular situations or objects. 

With up to 50% of anxious individuals still symptomatic after first-line treatment, there is a clear need to understand why fear persists in certain individuals, and to develop more effective and permanent methods to reduce fear and anxiety. There are a range of cognitive, physical and developmental changes that occur during childhood and older age, and these changes may enhance or complicate treatment of anxiety. By understanding how the mechanisms underlying anxiety differ in these age groups, her ultimate goal is to be able to use this knowledge to enhance early intervention and existing treatments for anxiety. Dr Johnco's research compliments her experience as a Clinical Psychologist, and allows her to translate basic science findings into clinical treatment approaches.

Macquarie University Early Career Research of the Year: Medicine, Science and Engineering

Dr Chris Reid

Faculty of Science and Engineering

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How do nerve cells network to form a brain? How do ants build bridges to form smooth highways for their traffic? How do competing economic firms interact to form a system of global trade? These are all examples of complex systems; where groups of simple interacting units produce emergent, complex behaviour at the group level. 

Complex systems are all around us, but they are difficult to study; an individual nerve cell can be removed from a body and observed, but in doing so we have removed the cell from the very system we seek to understand. Our inability to observe the precise behaviour of individual units as they interact with their neighbours is a major impediment to understanding how complex systems function. Dr Chris Reid uses biological complex systems such as ant colonies, honey bees and slime moulds to circumvent this problem. These systems provide an extremely important resource for studying the properties of complex systems in general, because they allow us to design experiments to uncover the links between the behaviour of individual agents and the behaviour of the entire system. Collaborating with biologists, engineers and mathematicians, and using a combination of field work, lab work and computer modelling, his research focusses on three emergent properties of these systems; swarm intelligence, resilience and self-assembly.  

With the modern rise in global interconnectedness, human supply chains and transportation networks are threatened with unpredictable and far-reaching consequences from even localised network damage. Like human supply chains, biological transport systems must also deal with the risk of damage, but natural systems have had millions of years to evolve efficient resilience mechanisms. Using laboratory and field experiments on slime moulds, ant colonies and honeybee colonies, I am working to uncover the behaviours and design features that allow biological networks to adapt to and recover from damaging events. My observations will inform novel network design and control algorithms.

Excellence in Higher Degree Research: Humanities, Business and Social Sciences

Dr Nathan Caruana

Faculty of Human Sciences

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Approximately 1 in every 100 Australians has an autism diagnosis, characterised by a reduced capacity for social communication. In infancy, these impairments hinder the achievement of crucial developmental milestones, including language development. In later childhood and adulthood, these developmental delays manifest as difficulties in successfully navigating mainstream education systems and securing steady employment. 

Dr Nathan Caruana’s research program aims to improve the quality-of-life for individuals with autism, by elucidating the specific cognitive impairments that result in communication difficulties, so that targeted remediation strategies can be devised. In his research, he is also simultaneously developing new innovative virtual reality technologies that can be used as a practical, affordable, malleable and ecologically-valid training tool to improve social understanding and communication in autistic individuals. 

Dr Caruana’s overriding goal is to improve the lives of people with social communication difficulties through his research which began during his time as an undergraduate student at Macquarie University when he worked as a therapist with an autistic child. This experience taught him that social communication impairments can cause major disruption to a child’s family life and capacity to learn. However, little is known about why social communication is impaired in autism, or how interventions should best address this. Dr Caruana felt the need to learn and understand more about these issues, so in 2012 he undertook a PhD at Macquarie, studying the cognitive and neural basis of social interaction and its impairment in autism.

Excellence in Higher Degree Research: Medicine, Science and Engineering

Dr Louise Kristensen

Faculty of Science and Engineering

Dr Louise Kristensen’s research during her PhD addressed lead emissions and depositions in Australia resulting in widespread pollution and the impacts to the environment and human health. Lead emissions in Australia have been occurring for almost two centuries, resulting primarily from mining and smelting operations and the use of leaded petrol. Lead contaminated soils are widespread in Australian urban and industrial locations as a result. In addition to legacy lead in the environment, significant contemporary lead emissions are present in active lead industrial locations, notably Mount Isa (Queensland), Port Pirie (South Australia) and Broken Hill (New South Wales). Emissions and depositions of lead are significant sources of human exposure to lead, especially to children, whose innate ‘hand-to-mouth’ behaviour, high absorbance levels and developing neurological systems put them most at risk. 

The effective regulation and cessation of lead additives in petrol reduced lead in air levels by up to two orders of magnitude and well below current guidelines, reducing the exposure to lead, especially in highly populated Australian cities. However, the removal of primary lead sources, such as leaded petrol, as well as the fall in blood lead levels in mining and smelting communities resulting from health and awareness campaigns, has led to complacency in recent times that much of the problem has been resolved. Additionally, the historic emissions that now exist in soils around Australia remain a silent exposure risk as very little remediation work was ever conducted.  Dr Kristensen’s research program demonstrated unequivocally that environmental lead emissions, depositions and exposures continue to remain a significant public health concern in Australia. Current lead emissions from mining and smelting operations continue to expose children to dangerous levels of toxic metals that result in blood lead levels above current guideline values. 

Quantification of lead emitted from petrol, at a quarter million tonnes, revealed the enormity of this legacy source in Australia’s major cities, even in relation to mining and smelting emissions. Although petrol emissions form an historical source, this research reveals its impact prevails in the environment. By providing a contemporary analysis on the issue of lead emissions, her research demonstrates that reliance on outdated regulations and guidelines are ineffective tools for stimulating reductions in exposure to both historic and ongoing lead emissions in Australia. Therefore, in light of the globally accepted paradigm that there is no safe level of lead exposure, Dr Kristensen’s research highlights the urgent need, and stimulated regulatory and industrial action, to revise existing strategies and regulations to limit preventable exposures, especially to children, our most vulnerable population.

Meet our Vice-Chancellor’s Learning and Teaching Award winners

Vice-Chancellor’s Citation for Outstanding Contributions to Student Learning

Dr Matthew Bailey

Faculty of Arts

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Matthew has received this citation for his innovative approach to flipped classroom curricula for a diverse student cohort enrolled across multiple, integrated modes of delivery.

Dr Karen Pearlman and Iqbal Barkat

Faculty of Arts

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Karen and Iqbal have received their citation for facilitating student engagement, collaboration, communication and employability in screen production through a blend of intensive, online, student-led activities and face-to-face learning and teaching.

Dr LayPeng Tan

Faculty of Business and Economics

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LayPeng has received this citation for excellence in designing and delivering innovative and connected curricula that transforms students and their learning journey.

Dr Kate Scrivener

Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences

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Kate has received this citation for creating an authentic learning environment integrating evidence and professional experiences to enhance future physiotherapists’ management of individuals with complex neurological conditions.

Dr Kira Westaway

Faculty of Science and Engineering

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Kira has received this citation for reigniting student curiosity for Earth science by creating effective learning environments that support different learning styles and positively impact the student learning experience.

Chris Froissard, Deborah Richards, Amara Atif and Danny Liu

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This citation has been awarded for the delivery of an innovative learning analytics solution that enhances the learning and teaching student experience.

Kerry Sherman, Jessica Alcorso, Christopher Kilby, Michael Rampe and Michael Catabay

View Kerry's profile

Associate Professor Sherman and her team have been awarded this citation for providing an online, interactive and contextually-rich learning environment for undergraduates in the applied discipline of Health Psychology.

Vice-Chancellor’s Award for Programs that Enhance Learning

PACE International

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The PACE International program strengthens student employability and professional capabilities, while enabling them to become active and thoughtful global citizens. It provides undergraduate students from any discipline the opportunity to contribute to the work of an international community development organisation.

Vice-Chancellor’s Award for Teaching Excellence

Dr Jana Lay-Hwa Bowden

Faculty of Business and Economics

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Dr Jana Bowden is a passionate educator, focused on a highly participative, collective coproduction of the educational journey, and a mutual partnership with learners in relation to unit content and evaluation.

At the core of her teaching philosophy is the belief that collaborative partnerships between the educator and learner is essential to the creation and support of learner knowledge and to the achievement of learner engagement and success.

Prashan Shayanka Mendis Karunaratne

Faculty of Business and Economics

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Prashan Karunaratne is an inspirational and innovative teacher of entry-level economics at Macquarie University. His enthusiasm for teaching economics, and passion for improving student outcomes, have inspired and engaged students for more than a decade.

He nurtures students to develop a desire to engage in the field of economics, and is a firm believer that the learning journey benefits both teachers and students.

Inspiring students to want to learn – by emphasising the ‘why’ of learning, and empowering students to navigate their own learning journey – by focusing on the ‘how’, creates valuable experiences in his classroom and beyond. This highlights the 'wow' moments that students will remember in years to come.

Dr Wayne Warburton

Faculty of Human Sciences

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Dr Wayne Warburton’s teaching philosophy is informed by student feedback and his own undergraduate experiences. It embraces learning through reciprocal engagement, reflection, practical experience, critical and independent thinking, engaging students with Macquarie research, and assisting students to find their own passion and direction.

Wayne’s enthusiasm, passion, clarity of communication, and ability to engage students and impart knowledge, have helped students find their own passion for psychology, learn in both a practical and theoretical sense, and make a positive social impact as psychology professionals.

Dr Verity Pacey

Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences

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As an early career academic, Dr Verity Pacey has developed and delivered unique and innovative curriculum, including leading the design of the paediatric physiotherapy curriculum, within the Doctor of Physiotherapy program in the Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences.

Her teaching challenges students to extend their clinical reasoning skills and alter their clinical practice to provide a more holistic approach to individuals with rare and complex disorders.

Verity takes her students outside their usual comfort zones by engaging in reflective and authentic clinical and research experiences that promote a deeper understanding of individuals with rare and complex conditions. And explores the idea that collectively, rare diseases are common.

The Academic Staff Awards Winners Impact and Introduction videos were produced by the Learning Innovation Hub: Geraldine Timmins, Lauren Bacigalpuo, Michael Garganera, Nathan Sollars and Michael Catabay. Typography direction for the Winners Impact Danielle Lattuca, Group Marketing, motion graphics by Dave Cochrane, Hank Mango. The LIH would like to thank the video participants (judging panel members, winners, students and colleagues).

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