2022 Alumni Awards honour exceptional Sydney graduates

Coming from a range of backgrounds and disciplines, the winners of the 2022 Alumni Awards have made outstanding contributions to their fields and the University community.

The 2022 Alumni Award winners have been announced, with a selection of alumni recognised for their exceptional achievements and contribution to their community.

Alumni Award nominees are judged based on the nominated applicant’s commitment to excellence in their chosen field, integrity, creativity, determination, leadership, resilience, compassion and achievement.

The yearly announcement of the Alumni Award winners presents an opportunity to celebrate the strengths of our alumni community and say thank you to those who continue to make the world a better place.

This includes the recipients of the six Graduate Medal categories, which recognise the work of our most recent graduates who have already begun to make a difference, despite being early on in their careers.

With their achievements ranging from advancing technologies to developing new cancer treatments, the winners of the 2022 Alumni Awards are no exception.

Niny Borges

Niny Borges (LLB ’00)

Alumni Award for International Achievement

Just a year after graduating from Sydney Law School, Niny Borges played an integral role in the Timor-Leste legal team negotiating the Timor Sea Treaty with the Australian Government, resulting in the lion’s share of the natural resources going to Timor-Leste. She was part of the Timorese diaspora in Australia, who helped efforts as the country neared Independence, and she spent seven years advising the Timor-Leste Prime Minister and Minister for Natural Resources on petroleum-related matters. She is now Vice President, Global Head of Legal Upstream at Equinor, where she is an executive helping to define Equinor’s energy transition and path towards net zero carbon emissions.

Adam Jacobs

Adam Jacobs (BA ’07, BCom ’07)

Alumni Achievement Award for Innovation and Entrepreneurship

Adam Jacobs started his career in strategy consulting at Boston Consulting Group and PricewaterhouseCoopers before founding The Iconic in 2011. Created on the premise of customer experience leadership and the power of diverse, high performing teams, it is now one of the largest online fashion retailers in Australia. In 2017 Adam co-founded Hatch to connect university students to meaningful paid work. In response to COVID-19 this became The Hatch Exchange, which rapidly redeployed thousands of workers into new parts of the economy using their transferable skills and interests.The Hatch Exchange has assisted over 150 Australian businesses and over 10,000 stood-down staff, aligning with Adam’s goal to create technology companies that help shape positive values-based societies.

Suhanya Raffel

Suhanya Raffel (BA ’85, Grad Dip Museum Stud ’86)

Alumni Achievement Award for Cultural Contribution

With over 30 years of experience as a museum curator and leader to her name, Suhanya Raffel has led a broad range of curations to engage audiences in Australia and overseas. She is currently Museum Director at M+ Hong Kong at the West Kowloon District: a major new museum of modern and contemporary visual culture which opened to the public in November 2021. Here she has led the museum’s mission of broadening its international reach and championing its deep connection with its local community. Suhanya’s previous roles include Deputy Director of the Art Gallery of NSW and a range of senior curatorial positions at the Queensland Art Gallery/Gallery of Modern Art, Brisbane.

Nicole Seebacher

Dr Nicole Seebacher (BSc ’09, BSc(Hons) ’11, PhD ’15, MD ’20)

Outstanding Achievements of Young Alumni Award

At 32 years old, Nicole Seebacher MD PhD is an outstandingly promising cancer researcher and doctor currently studying at the University of Oxford. Over the last 12 years her research has focused on developing novel agents targeting drug-resistant cancers, with her innovation, creativity and dogged persistence contributing to current clinical trials of a new drug for treating advanced cancer patients. In her research career to-date she has received 31 awards, authored 22 research publications in high impact journals, and received over 1,000 citations. Nicole has worked full-time as a ward doctor caring for COVID-19 patients since 2020, and has held several leadership positions including the Graduate Studies Committee of the USYD Academic Board and Non-Executive Board Director of the Australian Medical Students Association.

Dr David Skellern AO

Dr David Skellern AO (BSc ’72, BE(Elec) ’74, PhD ’85)

Alumni Award for Professional Achievement

Dr David Skellern is an electronic engineer and computer scientist with a doctorate on radioastronomy instrumentation who has made significant advancements in high speed wireless communications. Along with colleagues he is credited for the first chip-set implementation of the IEEE 802.11a wireless networking standard. Devoting most of his professional life to education and research in public institutions, after working as a researcher and lecturer at the University of Sydney he founded the Department of Electronics at Macquarie University. Here, he collaborated with CSIRO to develop high-speed WiFi. He spent some years as the CEO of National ICT Australia before going on to become the chairman of the Capital Markets Cooperative Research Centre, now called the RoZetta Institute, where he continues in the position today.

Jane Sloane

Jane Sloane (MA ’02)

Alumni Award for Service to Humanity

Jane Sloane has spent the last 20 years working to advance women’s and girls’ human rights globally. As Senior Director, Women’s Empowerment and Gender Equality, Jane devised a new program called Accelerate Women’s Entrepreneurship, designed to support one million women entrepreneurs in Asia to break free of violence and gain economic security. In her current role, Jane has developed a program for The Asia Foundation focused on advancing the women, peace, and security agenda in Asia to support women being at the front line of brokering peace agreements and countering violent extremism. Jane is continually writing, speaking, and advocating for women’s and girls’ empowerment, and also promotes gender inclusive approaches to STEM studies and policies addressing climate change.

Graduate Medals

Graduate medallists collage
Top row: Dr Vimallan Manokara, Katie Moore, Olivia Morris. Bottom row: Michael Mossman, William Ryan, Dr Nikki-Anne Wilson.

Dr Vimallan Manokara (PhD ’21)
The John C Harsanyi Medal for innovation

Dr Vimallan Manokara is the Head of MINDS (Movement for the Intellectually Disabled of Singapore) Institute, driving applied research and innovation in disability services. Dr Manokara completed his PhD in the development of a framework for sustainable employment for persons with disabilities. Since then, he has led the establishment of a Special Interest Research Group on Employment and worked collaboratively with various government agencies to drive research and innovation across the disability sector in Singapore.

Katie Moore (MBA ’21)
The Edmund Barton Medal for postgraduate leadership

Katie Moore is a highly sought strategic advisor who is passionate about creating meaningful change for people and communities who are often not seen or heard. In her role as a Project Manager, Sydney Policy Lab, Katie delivers place-based projects addressing social, economic and environmental justice. She proudly identifies with her Aboriginal heritage of the Wiradyuri people in Central NSW and lives on Darug land in Western Sydney.

Olivia Morris (BEc’ 19, LLB ’21)
The Convocation Medal for undergraduate leadership

Olivia is passionate about gender equality, the evolving media environment, and public interest litigation. Her varied experience includes co-founding a national online student-run publication, Et Cetera, and volunteering for Teach Us Consent, where she contributed to Chanel Contos’ work to change consent law in NSW. Olivia is currently a Lawyer in Allens’ disputes and investigations team after starting at the firm in 2018 as a paralegal.

Michael Mossman (PhD ’21)
The Sister Alison Bush Medal for contribution to Indigenous community

Michael Mossman’s growing reputation and impact on both academia and the architecture profession is a credit to his advocacy of First Nations concerns in the designed environment. He has delivered successful and award-winning architectural projects during his long-standing appointment with the NSW Government Architect, and in 2020 was appointed Associate Dean Indigenous in the University of Sydney’s School of Architecture.

William Ryan (BCom ’13, MMgt ’21)
The Nigel C Barker Medal for sporting achievement

Will Ryan has been competing as a sailor since he was 13 years old, and currently holds the #1 World Ranking in the 470 Class. Will represented Australia and won a Silver Medal in the 2016 Rio Olympics, then a Gold Medal in the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. He is an active contributor to the sailing community and regularly participates in community and fundraising initiatives.

Dr Nikki-Anne Wilson (PhD ’21)
The Rita and John Cornforth Medal for research excellence

Dr Nikki-Anne Wilson’s contribution to the field of dementia research has been recognised by multiple first-author papers in high-impact journals, a co-authored publication and 15 international and local presentations at conferences and symposia. Nikki-Anne’s contribution to the academic community is equalled by her extensive science outreach as an in-demand speaker and mentor.


If you know of an alumni or student in their final year of study who is making a profound impact in their chosen field, nominate them for the 2023 Alumni Awards.

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