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UC staff acknowledged at 2021 Excellence Awards

Kalyx Jorgensen

19 November 2021: University of Canberra staff have been recognised for their outstanding achievements, commitment, and resilience at the University’s most recent annual Professional, Research and Teaching Excellence Awards.

The awards were held virtually this year and presented by senior academic and professional staff.

Vice-Chancellor and President Professor Paddy Nixon said the Excellence Awards provided an important opportunity to recognise all University staff for championing the values of the University, as well as awarding those who have gone above and beyond throughout 2021.

“To hear about the contributions of staff across the whole of the University, during some of the most challenging times you can imagine, has been genuinely uplifting – and I have to say, in some cases, absolutely awe-inspiring,” Professor Nixon said.

“They also represent their colleagues and staff across the University, who have put in an enormous amount of effort to keep us running this year.”

"I’m proud to see how much these achievements reflect what is so important to UC: impactful research, student-centric teaching and a commitment to inclusion, diversity and belonging, to name a few.”

A full list of the awards and recipients are available below.


These awards were presented by Pro Vice-Chancellor, Indigenous, Professor Peter Radoll, Chief People Officer Wendy Flint and Chief Operating Officer and Vice-President, Operations, Vicki Williams.

Mana-Mangi Djara (Industrious Star Award)

This award recognises contributions to the improvement of outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander staff and/or students.

Winner: Yarning About & RAP Project Team, OATSILS and Learning and Teaching

Team members: Kirsten Tapine, Marina Martiniello

This team was rewarded for their work on the Yarning About project and contributions to the University Reconciliation Action Plan (RAP). The Yarning About video series, was noted for its ability to bring together an excellent team of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander staff and students, with the team acknowledged for their relationship-building and willingness to work outside their normal duties, on topics for the benefit of the learning and development of staff and students.


Advancing Indigenous Procurement Project Team, Campus Estate

Diversity Award

This award recognises individuals who make an outstanding contribution to actively seeking to support the University to become a national sector leader in diversity, inclusion and belonging.

Winner: Intersectionality Walk Project – Ellen Swavley, People and Diversity

Ms Swavley’s passion and commitment to diversity led her to create the Intersectionality Walk, in conjunction with a small group from the Science Australia Gender Equity (SAGE) ACT Regional Network (of which the University is a member). The walk has participants assume personas so that they can better understand the barriers that staff face in terms of belonging. The purpose of the walk was to help evaluate and break down common disadvantages.

Values Award

The Values Award recognises an individual’s demonstration of outstanding values.

Winner: Putting Values to Work in Transforming Student Residential Life Project – Rachel Overton, Operations

In her role as Student Accommodation Manager, Ms Overton is a familiar face at the University to over 2,500 students and their families. As the pandemic has continued into 2021, she has remained a cornerstone of the student residential life, bringing together Student Life, Operators, Digital, Information and Technology Management (DITM), Campus Estate, and Medical and Counselling, to achieve a collaborative relationship with a common focus on residential life. She is engaging, forward-thinking, positive and results-focussed, and has made a difference to thousands that live on campus.

Distinctive Award

This award celebrates outstanding contributions to our strategic plan, Distinctive by Design.

Winner: UCX Food Pantry, UCX

Team members: Andrew Giumelli, Ben Muller

As part of the Distinctive by Design strategy, the University aims for an exceptional student experience. The UCX Food Pantry is an initiative that has developed to become one of the cornerstone support measures that the University provides for its students. Commencing in 2020, the Food Pantry has evolved and grown through these challenging times and now provides for more than 300 students each week with a supply of pantry staples, fresh fruit and vegetables and personal hygiene products.


Learning & Teaching –Getting Pre-Service Teacher Placements Right Project, Faculty of Education

Health Clinics Team, Faculty of Health

Professional Excellence Award

This award recognises individuals who have demonstrated outstanding performance and ongoing commitment to the University.

Winner: Campus Estate Project – Bibiana Uzabeaga, Campus Estate

Ms Uzabeaga was recognised for the commitment and expertise she brings to her role as a subject matter expert, in a variety of building services on campus. A trusted colleague often relied upon to provide technical and strategic advice, and to assist with asset replacement and capital works, she has helped contribute to the development of the Campus Master Plan and Strategic Asset Management Plan. She also champions diversity, inclusivity and ethical behaviour – implementing this in the values of her team and also studying through her research at a PhD level, all while managing a very busy maintenance portfolio.


Sonia Osborne for the Quality and Service Excellence Project, Quality and Service Improvement


These awards were presented by Deputy Vice-Chancellor and Vice-President Academic, Professor Geoff Crisp.

Citation for Outstanding Contribution to Student Learning

The University of Canberra Citations recognise outstanding contributions to student learning made by either individuals or teaching teams.

Winner: Jonathan Adams, Faculty of Education

Mr Adams, a Lecturer within the Professional Doctorate Program of the Faculty of Education and a Higher Degree Research student, was awarded for his innovative approaches to mathematics teaching which work to alleviate pre-service teachers’ mathematics anxiety, and support, motivate and inspire learning.

Winner: Dr Paul Magee, Faculty of Arts and Design

Dr Magee, Associate Professor in Arts and Communication at the University, was awarded a citation for his work in energising the teaching of research methods in creative arts and design to ensure a rewarding learning experience for students.

Winner: Investigating and Explaining Society Team, Faculty of Business, Government and Law

Team members: Dr Selen Ayirtman Ercan, Professor Nicole Curato, Nardine Alnemr, Dr Hans Asenbaum, Anne Jedzini and Nick Vlahos

The Investigating and Explaining Society team from the Business, Governance and Law faculty was rewarded for their connection of research excellence with teaching, the introduction of creative multimedia innovations, and an effective teaching framework that enhances student learning and experience.

Winner: Restorative Healthcare Team, Faculty of Health

Team members: Dr Holly Northam, Dr Wayne Applebee, Roslyn Brown, Dr Angie Fearon, Naomi Mahon and Allan Sambono

The Restorative Healthcare Team is recognised for their approach to teaching and learning that influences, motivates and inspires students to learn, creating relationships of trust, hope for Reconciliation and a new social contract of health equity for Australians.


Dr Shyam Barr, Faculty of Education

Dr Blooma John, Faculty of Science and Technology

Dr Mathieu O'Neil, Faculty of Arts and Design

Award for Programs that Enhance Learning

This award recognises team contributions to learning and teaching support programs and services which make an outstanding contribution to the quality of student learning, and to the quality of each student’s experience of higher education.

Winner: Physiotherapy Across The Lifespan Team, Faculty of Health

Team members: Dr Angie Fearon, Melanie Ryan and Richie Talbot

Dr Fearon, Ms Ryan and Mr Talbot were recognised in the Programs that Enhance Learning category for their Physiotherapy Across The Lifespan program. Their innovative program is rewarded for curriculum design and the use of pedagogy practices in physiotherapy for all ages.

Teaching Excellence

These awards recognise the work of individuals who have excelled in their teaching and made outstanding contributions to learning and teaching at the University of Canberra.

Winner: Dr Jaquelin Bousie, Faculty of Health

Dr Bousie is an Assistant Professor in the discipline of physiotherapy, teaching a specialised area: Musculoskeletal Physiotherapy.She enables students to develop both complex clinical reasoning and the hands-on skills required to assess and treat people with a variety of musculoskeletal issues – highlighting the University’s focus on being a practice-based university.

Winner: Dr Nick Ball, Faculty of Health

Dr Ball, an Associate Professor within the Faculty of Health, delivers a practical postgraduate course that effectively blends online learning and real-world experience. As an academic for nearly 20 years, Nick’s philosophy has evolved to feature both teaching design and delivery with a humanistic focus on assisting each student to reach their full potential.


These awards were presented by former Deputy Vice-Chancellor Research and Innovation, Professor Leigh Sullivan.

Award for Distinction in Engagement and Impact

This award recognises individuals or teams who have demonstrated excellence in high impact research and a commitment to seeing its translation to positive outcomes.

Winner: Flow-MER Basin Scale Environmental Flows Monitoring, Engagement and Research Team, Faculty of Science and Technology

Team members: Professor Ross Thompson, Professor Fiona Dyer, Will Higgisson, Cherie Campbell, Dr Joanne Bennett, Dr James Hitchcock and Darren Giling

The Flow-MER program is the Commonwealth government’s primary means for assessing the effectiveness of the Murray-Darling Basin Plan. Monitoring, evaluation and research are critical to ensuring that the use of Commonwealth environmental water achieves the best outcomes for rivers, wetlands and floodplains, as well as the animals, plants and people that depend upon them. The University and CSIRO co-lead the program, which stretches across three years with $7.7 million in funding.


Dr Julien Periard, Faculty of Health

Award for Excellence in Supervision of Higher Degree by Research (HDR) Students

This award enables research candidates to recognise supervisors who they believe have helped them shape their futures and maximise their potential.

Winner: Professor Deborah Davis, Faculty of Health

Since commencing employment at the University 10 years ago, Professor Davis has supervised 20 students to successful completion – five PhD students, one Masters of Research student and 14 Honours students. These on-time completions provide strong evidence of Professor Davis’s outstanding and sustained success in supporting candidates to timely completion.


Dr Nenad Naumovski, Faculty of Health

Award for Outstanding Team Achievement in Research or Innovation

This award recognises outstanding team contribution to the research and innovation performance of the University over the past 12 months.

Winner: Rural Education and Community Research Group, Faculty of Education

Team members: Dr Philip Roberts, Dr Jenny Dean, Natalie Downes

The Rural Education and Community (REC) Research Group within the Centre for Sustainable Communities (CSC) is recognised as the only education research group in Australia specialising in equity initiatives for rural communities. The group comprises individuals who bring different disciplinary skills, knowledge and professional experience to inform its unique approach. By supporting stronger sustainable outcomes through empowering rural schools and communities and harnessing place-based knowledges and strengths, the REC group has cemented the trust of rural communities and garnered significant engagement with distinguished research, education, and philanthropy partners in 2019–21.


EcoDNA Team, Faculty of Science and Technology

Award for Early Career Researcher

These awards recognise early career researchers who have shown outstanding performance in research relative to opportunity, as measured by research outputs, citations, research income, and HDR supervision.

Winner: Dr Saeed Banihashemi, Faculty of Arts & Design

Dr Banihashemi is recognised for his impactful research and teaching evidenced by ISEQ and student feedback. Not only is he working actively with the ACT Government on its Building Information Modelling (BIM) implementation plan, but also represents the University on the AIB (Australian Institute of Building), has been involved with a recently received ACT Government Priority Investment Program (PIP) grant for the BIM Hub and is leading the development of the Masters of Building Construction and Building Information Management degree suite for the Faculty of Arts and Design.


Pia Rowe, Faculty of Business, Government and Law

Dr Sitti Patahuddin, Faculty of Education

Dr Alejandro Trujillo-Gonzalez, Faculty of Science and Technology

Dr Celeste Coltman, Faculty of Health

Awards for Research Excellence

These awards recognise overall research excellence, from individuals whose research achievements have been outstanding over the last three years. Research achievements are measured by research outputs, citations, research income and research training.

Winner: Professor Debra Rickwood, Faculty of Health

Professor Rickwood has spent her career working to support adolescents in crisis, through her work with adolescent mental health, Lifeline and, more recently, with young Indigenous people. Of particular note is her impact on how drug-proofing children is approached in Australia, following research into adolescent risk behaviours and how drug and alcohol use tie in with risk, internal locus of control and mental health crises in young people.


Professor Moo Sung Lee, Faculty of Education

Dr Tracy Ireland, Faculty of Arts and Design

Professor Nicole Curato, Faculty of Business, Government and Law

Professor Roland Goecke, Faculty of Science and Technology