Distinguished Professors

Distinguished Professors

Nominations for the 2019 Distinguished Professor round will be open from 1 July till 1 August 2019.

The title Macquarie University Distinguished Professor is awarded to eminent Professors of exceptional distinction who have made an outstanding contribution to their field or discipline and to Macquarie University.

The title is awarded for six years or until the retirement or resignation of the staff member, whichever is the earlier. The title may be awarded for consecutive periods.

To be eligible for consideration, a nominee must hold the title ‘Professor’ at Macquarie University. The expectation is that the person would be in the top 1% of their field and continuing to demonstrate excellence. The title is awarded based on merit as assessed against the selection criteria.

How to nominate

Every two years there is a call for nominations for the award of Macquarie University Distinguished Professor from the Executive Deans and Deans. Nominations for the 2019 Distinguished Professor round can be submitted to HR from 1 July - 1 August 2019.

To submit a nomination use the Distinguished Professor nomination form. The nomination should include:

  • a case addressing how the applicant meets the selection criteria (as per the nomination form)
  • a summary of the case for nomination in the form of a public citation (as per the nomination form), and
  • a full curriculum vitae

The Distinguished Professor Committee, consisting of the Vice-Chancellor, DVC Academic, DVC Research, Chair of Academic Senate and the Director, Human Resources, reviews nominations and determines outcomes.

Read about our current Distinguished Professors

Faculty of Arts

Distinguished Professor David Christian

Professor David Christian is awarded the title of Distinguished Professor of Macquarie University in recognition of his outstanding contributions to research and teaching over many years. The award recognises his impact as a member of the Australian academic community, as a historian, and as an outstanding teacher. In particular, the award recognises Professor Christian’s development over twenty five years of the discipline of Big History.

Big History offers a new way of thinking about time and the place of human history and civilisations within time. It offers an exploration of origin stories, which enables a reconnection of the arts and sciences within education. Currently, the Big History curriculum developed by the Big History Project has been adopted worldwide in over 500 schools where students are being actively challenged to think differently about their world, their place in it and the long term patterns of the human experience.

Big History is a project of global reach. The significance of Professor Christian’s work has been recognised in invitations to speak at TED, Davos and CERN. There are few projects growing out of a traditional academic discipline such as history which have this reach and few that have had practical applications in changing the school curriculum. This is an extraordinary achievement.

Distinguished Professor Naguib Kanawati AM, FAHA

Professor Naguib Kanawati is a professor of Egyptology in the Department of Ancient History and Director of the Australian Centre for Egyptology. He graduated BA in History and Archaeology and MA in Egyptology at the University of Alexandria, Egypt and obtained his PhD in Egyptology from Macquarie University. After six years of teaching Near-Eastern History at the University of Auckland, New Zealand, he came to Macquarie University in 1980 as Lecturer in Egyptology and in 1990 was appointed to a Personal Chair in Egyptology. In 1981 he established the Rundle Foundation for Egyptian Archaeology (now with 500 members) and in 1989 he established the Australian Centre for Egyptology and remains its Director. In 1997 Kanawati was elected Fellow of the Australian Academy of the Humanities and in 2003 he received the Centenary Medal “for services to the Australian society and the humanities in the study of archaeology”. In 2007 he was awarded the Order of Australia “for services to education in the field of archaeology and Egyptology and to the community”.

Since 1979 to present Kanawati has carried out archaeological fieldwork at a number of important sites in Upper Egypt, including El-Hawawish, El-Hagarsa, El-Hammamiya, Quseir el-Amarna, Deir el-Gebrawi and Deshasha, and is currently recording the Cemeteries of Meir near Asyut  and Beni Hassan near El-Minya. Fieldwork was also conducted at Giza and Saqqara near Cairo.

Kanawati’s archaeological fieldwork has regularly been supported by Research Grants from The Australian Research Council (ARC), National Geographical Society, Washington, Macquarie University Research Development Grants (MURDG) and the Rundle Foundation for Egyptian Archaeology. He has published 55 monographs and numerous articles in scientific journals and has contributed to the community outreach through regular public lectures and media appearances.

Naguib Kanawati was appointed a Macquarie University Distinguished Professor in 2010.

Macquarie Business School

Distinguished Professor James Guthrie

Professor James Guthrie has a long history of research impact upon industry and government. His work on performance reporting, accounting for intellectual capital and sustainability accounting have pioneered new approaches to accounting. James has regularly been sought out by government and industry for advice and ideas.

James is the joint founding editor of the Accounting, Auditing and Accountability Journal, now in its 29th year and ranked 7th globally by Google Scholar within accounting and taxation journals. James is a consultant on public sector commercialisation for the Committee of Economic Development of Australia, an expert for the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development on ‘The Role of Audit in Performance Improvement in Government’, and an expert witness on productivity and performance measurement in the public sector for the Industrial Relations Commissions of NSW, WA and SA. James also served on the GAP Taskforce on Leadership in Education (2013-2015) that served as an informal advisory board to the Hon. Christopher Pyne MP in his capacity as Minister for Education.

James’s performance reporting research has been linked to several consultancies for government and non-profit organisations. He has been asked over the past decades to provide comment to several Parliamentary Public Accounts Committees’ inquiries into public sector annual reporting and performance measurement. His education research has challenged both the construction and reporting of teaching, administration and research performance in the Australian and the UK tertiary sectors.

Distinguished Professor David Throsby AO

Professor David Throsby AO is internationally known for his work as an economist with specialist interests in the economics of the arts and culture. He holds Bachelor and Master degrees from the University of Sydney and a PhD in Economics from the London School of Economics. Professor Throsby’s research interests include the role of culture in economic development, the economic situation of individual artists, the economics of the performing arts, the creative industries, the economics of heritage and the relationship between cultural and economic policy. He has published several books and a large number of reports and journal articles in these areas, as well as in the economics of education and the economics of the environment. His book Economics and Culture, published by Cambridge University Press in 2001, has been translated into eight languages.

David Throsby has been a Fellow of the Academy of the Social Sciences in Australia since 1987, and was elected a Distinguished Fellow of the Association for Cultural Economics International in 2008. During a career spanning employment in both government and academia, he has been chair or member of a number of boards and committees at both national and international levels. He has also been a consultant to a number of international organisations including FAO, UNCTAD, UNESCO, OECD, and the World Bank. He is a member of several Editorial Boards, including the Journal of Cultural Economics, the International Journal of Cultural Policy, Poetics, the  Asia Pacific Journal of Arts and Cultural Management and the Journal of Cultural Property.

In January 2014, David Throsby was made an Officer of the Order of Australia for distinguished service to the community as a leading cultural economist, to the promotion and preservation of Australian arts and heritage, and to tertiary education.

In addition to his academic work, he has also written several plays, one of which was produced at the Royal Court Theatre in London in 1975. He is married with two daughters and lives in Sydney.

David Throsby became a Macquarie University Distinguished Professor in 2010.

Faculty of Human Sciences

Distinguished Professor Anne Castles

Professor Anne Castles is recognised as a Distinguished Professor of Macquarie University for her outstanding contribution to research, teaching and service in the field of reading in Cognitive Science.  Her research and outreach work are nationally and internationally recognised by academic peers, government leaders and professionals in the field of reading and education.  She is an exemplary leader of national research centres and academic departments at Macquarie University where she is a highly respected mentor of research students and junior colleagues.

Distinguished Professor Anne Castles has contributed at high levels in her profession and discipline and has been recognised with membership of leading professional societies and as a Fellow of the Academy of Social Sciences in Australia.  She has made a long-lasting contribution to theoretical research and has given back to the community by translating discovery into tangible tools for practitioners in ways that bring distinction to Macquarie University as a university of service and engagement.

Distinguished Professor Stephen Crain

Professor Stephen Crain’s research is in three areas of the psychology of language: child language acquisition, adult language processing, and neurolinguistics. In the study of child language development Stephen has contributed to the empirical assessment of the theory of Universal Grammar. Over the last decade, Stephen’s research has focused on children’s acquisition of semantic knowledge, in particular young children’s knowledge of logical expressions. Much of this has been cross-linguistic research, with a particular focus on Mandarin Chinese.

Stephen completed a Bachelor of Arts at the University of California Los Angeles in 1971 and attained his PhD from the University of California Irvine in 1980. Stephen was Head of the Linguistics Department at the University of Connecticut (1991-1994) and was an investigator on grants on language development, language processing, and language disorders at Haskins Laboratories, a Speech and Hearing Research Center in New Haven, CT. Stephen established the Cognitive Neuroscience of Language Laboratory (est. 1999) and the KIT-Maryland MEG Laboratory (est. 2001) at the University of Maryland.

As an ARC Federation Fellow, Stephen proposed to investigate children’s linguistic competence using a new methodology for functional brain imaging, called magnetoencephalography (MEG). Since coming to Australia in 2004, Stephen has led international teams of researchers and engineers in the development of two MEG systems: (a) the first whole-head adult MEG system in Australasia (est. 2006), and (b) the world’s first MEG system to study cognitive processing in children (est. 2008).

Currently, Stephen is the Director of the ARC Centre of Excellence in Cognition and its Disorders (CCD). The CCD investigates 5 areas of cognition: language, reading, belief formation, memory, and person perception. Stephen is also the Director of the International Center of Child Language Health, in Beijing, China, and a Visiting Professor at the Beijing Language and Culture University, China, and at the Kanazawa Institute of Technology, Japan.

Stephen was appointed a Macquarie University Distinguished Professor in 2010.

Distinguished Professor Katherine Demuth

Professor Katherine Demuth is internationally recognised for her ground-breaking research in the area of child language acquisition.  The work she leads at the Child Language Lab at Macquarie University is unique in Australia and occupies a key niche at the interface between basic and applied research.

Her contributions to the advancement of knowledge and education include a strong commitment to mentoring students and junior academics through the organisation of many conferences, workshops and reading groups.  During her time in Australia, she has reached out to a wide range of researchers, students and practitioners in the broad fields of language and hearing sciences to develop a collaborative approach to addressing language learning and its problems.

Early in her career, Katherine demonstrated a keen interest in applying her skills and knowledge to communities in Africa to explore issues of crosslinguistic language acquisition, with implications for teachers, clinicians and schools. This work continues through collaboration with Australian colleagues and Indigenous communities in the Northern Territory, working on both language description as well as issues of language acquisition. She has also become an active member of the Australian Hearing Hub, where her research has expanded to explore aspects of bilingual language learning, as well as language development in children with hearing loss and language delay/specific language impairment.

Professor Demuth has carried out her work with a commitment to excellence and an enduring determination to support the important role of language in social development, health and well-being.  Her outstanding contributions to this field were recognized by the award of an Australian Laureate Fellowship in 2014.

Distinguished Professor Ron Rapee AM

Professor Ron Rapee has focused most of his research in the last 25 years on anxiety and its disorders. Ron is fascinated by the ways people’s lives change over time and so his work with anxiety disorders now covers the entire lifespan, from infancy to older age. This research has culminated in several books and over 300 scientific papers in some of the leading international journals.

Ron was honoured to be recognised in 2009 by awards from the two leading professional organisations in the field, the Australian Psychological Society (Distinguished Contribution to Science) and the Australian Association of Cognitive Behaviour Therapy (Distinguished Career Award). Ron was made a Member of the Order of Australia in 2012 for services to clinical psychology.

International recognition of Ron’s research leads to invitations to present scientific papers and professional training workshops all over the world. Ron makes a difference to people’s lives through his input to scientific, mental health, and government bodies and by developing new and effective treatments that are used by therapists all around the world.

Ron Rapee became a Macquarie University Distinguished Professor in 2010.

Distinguished Professor Bill Thompson

Professor Bill Thompson has a 30-year career of sustained high-level academic achievement which has had significant impact on students, his research field and the community. He is Director of the Music, Sound and Performance Lab, and Founding Director of the Centre for Elite Performance, Expertise and Training.

His research achievements are prodigious, being both highly productive but also highly impactful. His work on the effects of music on emotional wellbeing, cognitive functioning and memory includes research on musical or hearing impairments, individuals with dementia, and currently refugee and diaspora communities. His work is recognised not only for its academic excellence, but its practical impact on vulnerable members of society. Professor Thompson’s multiple media appearances are testament to Professor Thompson’s research impact but also of his willingness to take his findings outside of the rarefied atmosphere of academia to the general public where individuals may find understanding and hope.

Professor Thompson has also provided high-level and sustained academic and professional leadership both within the university and outside of it. At Macquarie University he led the Psychology Department, and he founded and still leads an important a very productive research centre (CEPET). Outside the university he has and continues to provide professional leadership through research journal editorships and presidencies of professional societies. These efforts culminated in his election as a Fellow of the Association for Psychological Science.

Professor Thompson has also made profound contributions to strengthening the research-teaching nexus and encouraging his colleagues to engage in research-led teaching, most notably through his past development of new interdisciplinary programs of study, and his development and continued teaching of Music, Mind and Message (PSY 250). This ground-breaking unit introduces students to the psychological, social, and evolutionary implications of music in an engaging and stimulating approach that combines academic and arts-based approaches to learning.

Faculty of Science and Engineering

Distinguished Professor Michael Gillings

Professor Michael Gillings is internationally recognized for his pioneering work on the evolution and dissemination of antibiotic resistance. This work led to a critical understanding of how environment and ecology are centrally important in managing the resistance crisis. He has coordinated groups of international scientists in the production of a series of influential perspective papers on the dangers of pollution with resistance genes, and the influences that human activities have on the dissemination of microorganisms more generally. He also has an international reputation in other, diverse fields, such as the evolution of human gut microbiota, the role of humans in precipitating global change during the Anthropocene, and the existential crisis posed by digital information. This expertise is reflected in the number of Keynote and Plenary invitations he receives every year.

Professor Gillings makes enthusiastic and significant contributions to Macquarie’s Research, Teaching and Outreach activities, and is a high profile ambassador for the University. He has a strong commitment to mentoring staff and research students, both through personal supervision, and through the Research Enrichment Program, where he convenes the cross-disciplinary Outlook Conference. These networking opportunities build interdisciplinary collaboration, and help forge strong, interconnected cohorts of big thinkers. He is the recipient of multiple teaching awards, and has been consistently voted the best Lecturer at Macquarie. His passion for communicating Science to the public is shown by the large numbers of public lectures he gives, and by frequently representing Macquarie on radio and television, and in the print media.

Distinguished Professor Lesley Hughes

Over the past 20 years Professor Lesley Hughes has established a national and international reputation as a pioneer in the study of climate change impacts on biodiversity. The strength of her research has been to integrate a diversity of methods, from small-scale field and laboratory manipulations, to computer modelling of potential impacts on hundreds of species.  This research has had a substantial influence on reshaping conservation policy in Australia and internationally. Professor Hughes’ publications have been cited nearly 10,000 times, and one of her papers in the journal Nature is the most highly cited paper from Macquarie University.  Her work has made a significant contribution to our ranking as well above world average in Environmental Sciences and Ecological Applications.

Professor Hughes research is an outstanding example of end user engagement and impact: as a lead author in the IPCC Assessment Reports (a joint recipient of the 2007 Noble Peace Prize), and in international activities through the International Union for the Conservation of Nature; the United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity; and the World Commission on Protected Areas. Nationally, she has held leadership positions such as Chair of the NSW Scientific Committee, a Director of WWF Australia, and a member of the Wentworth Group of Concerned Scientists. Her passion for communicating science to the public and policy makers has been recognised in roles such as a Commissioner on the federal Climate Commission, Councillor with the Climate Council of Australia, and as the winner of the 2014 Eureka Prize in the category “Promoting Understanding of Australian Science Research”. Professor Hughes is an exemplar to many of us as a committed and engaged researcher and a highly deserving Distinguished Professor.

Distinguished Professor Michelle Leishman

Professor Michelle Leishman is an internationally renowned plant ecologist who works at the intersection of invasion biology, plant conservation, urban greening and climate change adaptation. She uses a range of approaches from field studies to manipulative experiments and large-scale spatial analyses to tackle the global issues of climate change, invasive species and biodiversity loss. Her research has attracted over 10000 citations, placing her in the top 1% of researchers in the disciplines of plant ecology and invasion biology.

Professor Leishman works closely with researchers, government and industry to translate research into on-ground solutions for conservation and land management. She leads innovative partnerships that work as collaborative hubs connecting researchers with government, industry and the community. This includes her roles as Deputy Director of the Biodiversity Node of the NSW Office of Environment and Heritage Adaptation Hub, Leader of the Green Cities Which Plant Where project, and Co-Director of MQ’s Smart Green Cities.  She is sought after to provide advice to local and state government and non-government organisations in the conservation and natural resources management sector. Her leadership and outstanding contribution to conservation biology is recognised through her appointments as previous Chair of the NSW Scientific Committee and as a Trustee of the Botanic Gardens Trust and Board Member of Bush Heritage. As a research leader and Head of Department, she has a strong commitment to empowering and supporting students and early career researchers to pursue research with impactful and practical outcomes.

Distinguished Professor Ian Paulsen

Professor Ian Paulsen is a world leading scientist renowned for his work in microbial genomics, multidrug efflux pumps, lateral gene transfer, systems biology, bioinformatics and environmental microbiology. The quality of his work has been recognised by his inclusion in “The World’s Most Influential Scientific Minds 2014” report prepared by Thomson Reuters, one of only five Macquarie Researchers and a small number of Australian researchers to be so recognised.

Professor Paulsen arrived at Macquarie in 2007 and has built a remarkably strong research group from a single postdoctoral research fellow to seven postdoctoral researchers and thirteen HDR students across a number of disciplines. Indeed, one of his strengths is collaboration, building relationships across the Medical and Physical Sciences. The Biomolecular Frontiers Research Centre, of which he is Deputy Director, has attracted significant funding from the ARC and has helped concentrate research focus on what is now known as the “omics” technologies. Professor Paulsen has a talent for concentrating research excellence that can be seen in his establishment of the successful Macquarie Flow Cytometry Facility, and in his central role leading the future development of Macquarie’s new Synthetic Biology Laboratory.

Professor Paulsen’s contributions have had prominent impact. He led the way in microbial multidrug efflux pump research, effectively founding the field. To this highly cited research, which has written an important chapter into our understanding of bacterial resistance to antibiotics, can be added his pivotal role in using genome sequencing to establish the importance that gene swapping across species has to microbial genome evolution. Metagenomics was another pioneering field which revealed unforeseen environmental biodiversity at the genetic level which had not previously been possible to detect through traditional genome sequencing methods. Not surprisingly, his publication record is outstanding; with an h-index of 83, his publications have received 32,000 citations.

His impact can also be measured by the strong funding he has attracted to support his research at Macquarie University; $11.7m in domestic funding and $1.3m from international sources. He has served in an editorial capacity across a large number of well-respected journals.  He has a strong voice in popular scientific channels and maintains a high online profile, helping to make his discoveries accessible to the general public. Awards and fellowships have come from the very start of his career, beginning with the Ernest Fields Memorial Scholarship as a postgraduate and later including a Life Sciences Research Award from the NSW Government, and a Laureate Fellowship from the Australian Research Council.

Professor Paulsen is one of the bright research stars of Macquarie University and without doubt deserving of a place among our Distinguished Professors.

Distinguished Professor Sue O'Reilly

Since 2011, Professor Sue O’Reilly has been Director of the ARC Centre of Excellence for Core to Crust Fluid Systems and previously, of the associated GEMOC National Key Centre since 1995.

Important scientific contributions have focussed on understanding the nature of the deep Earth, integrating information across the boundaries of geochemistry, geophysics, petrophysics and tectonics.  Outcomes include new insights into the geochemical and physical nature of the Earth’s mantle in deep space and time, and how these global processes have shaped the continents on which we live, including the distribution of economic deposits, and thus enhancing resource exploration targeting success. Outcomes have impacted internationally on directions of lithosphere (Earth’s upper 200 km) research and many early (and originally very controversial) findings are now considered to be part of the obvious body of knowledge on the deep Earth.

Not only is she a world-leading researcher, but also an exceptional research leader with a deep commitment towards teaching the next generation of researchers. Her outstanding leadership has fuelled and focussed inspiration in students, early-career researchers and her collaborators worldwide.

Her achievements have been recognised with a long list of awards including, elected Fellow of the Australian Academy of Sciences; 2001, Elected Fellow of the Norwegian Academy of Science and Letters (2001), Clarke Medal (Royal Society NSW) for outstanding contributions to Australian Geology (2007), Concurrent Professor of Earth Sciences at Nanjing University, Guest Professor at China University of Geoscience (Wuhan), Copernicus Visiting Professor at the University of Ferrara, and Docteur Honoris Causa from Lyon University.  She has engaged deeply with national policy for Geoscience and for the importance of advanced physical and mathematical (APM) sciences (Earth Sciences, Physics, Chemistry and Mathematics).  Professor O’Reilly provides advice at state and federal government levels through numerous committee and advisory roles.

Distinguished Professor Nicki Packer

Professor Nicolle Packer has transformed our understanding of how cells interact. Her work on glycans, the sugars on the surface of every cell, has implications for how we treat infections, cancers, infertility and many other diseases.

Thirty years ago, glycans were largely overlooked because they were too difficult to study. Nicki’s research has changed all that. We now know that these molecules are the first point of contact and the first line of defence and attack for all interactions that occur between cells. She has shown that glycans play an integral role in many crucial cellular processes including cell growth and development, tumour growth and metastasis, blood coagulation, immune recognition and response, brain function, and cell-to-cell communication. Thanks to her work we can now develop new antibiotics and other drug candidates, identify new biomarkers and targets for molecular imaging, and develop new diagnostic tests.

Nicki has published 184 papers in peer-reviewed journals as well as written 22 book chapters and edited 3 books, and filed nine patents. Two of these inventions have been licensed and commercialised. Since her return to academia from industry in 2007, she has won $17 million competitive grant funding and $7.5 million infrastructure funding, supervised 16 postgraduate students, and mentored 21 postdoctoral fellows, all of whom now have jobs in research or industry.

She co-created a spin-out company (Proteome Systems Ltd), and has worked with Dairy Australia, L’Oreal France, Regeneus, Minomic International, and many other companies. Through her research Nicki has established Macquarie University as a leader in glycosciences in both science and business.

Distinguished Professor Simon Turner

Professor Simon Turner is a world renowned earth scientist who has made major contributions to igneous petrology and geochemistry, sediment provenance, crustal growth, continental flood basalts, potassic lavas associated with high plateau formation, mid-ocean ridge basalts, ocean island basalts and island arc lavas. He has used uranium-series isotopes in innovative ways to constrain the time scales of magma formation, transport and differentiation as well as soil production and erosion rates.

Professor Turner has published over 175 papers, cited more than 9000 times with an h-index of 52. This includes 12 papers in Nature and Science and two co-edited books on U-series geochemistry and the time scales of magmatic processes. He has held distinguished fellowships in both the UK and Australia, including a Royal Society University Research Fellowship, a Federation Fellowship and an ARC Professorial Fellowship. In 2000, he was made a Fellow of the Geological Society of London and awarded the Society’s Lyell Fund in 2002. He was made a Fellow of the Geological Society of Australia in 2012 and received a Humboldt Research Award in 2013.

Simon has a proven record of research team leadership and mentoring and guiding the development of younger colleagues to PhD completions and in many cases to continuing careers in academia. He initiated the State of the Arc conference series, has run a Penrose meeting in the Azores and won the bid for, and chaired, the 16th annual Goldschmidt conference held in Melbourne in 2006. He was a director of the Geochemical Society (US) for 4 years and has served on the editorial board for numerous international and national journals continuously since 2000. He currently serves on the executive for the Geological Society of Australia and the NCRIS funded, AuScope II steering committee promoting synchrotron science and championing the cause for a dedicated Earth Science beam-line at the Australian Synchrotron.

Professor Turner is driven by his passion and curiosity to solve fundamental problems in the earth sciences and is a very deserving recipient of a Macquarie University Distinguished Professorship.

Distinguished Professor Michael Withford

Professor Michael Withford is recognised for his pioneering work developing advanced laser microfabrication technology. He has produced highly cited papers in this field and successfully translated his research to commercial outcomes via licensing agreements and the formation of a Macquarie University start-up company. He also participates in national infrastructure road-mapping initiatives and has established and leads a world leading fabrication facility that is a recognised part of Australia’s research infrastructure framework.

Need more help?

For more information see the Award of Distinguished Professor Policy and the Award of Distinguished Professor Procedure or contact the Office of the Vice-President, Human Resources on 9850 6844 or svetlana.martynovich@mq.edu.au.

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