ANU: Honours for exceptional people in our community

Two women at the top of their games in science, two philanthropists, a tireless advocate for people with intellectual disabilities and the late physicist Professor John Love are among those from our community who received 2022 Australia Day Honours.

Jenny Graves, who is an Emeritus Professor at ANU and a Distinguished Professor at La Trobe University, was one of seven people across the whole country to be appointed a Companion of the Order of Australia (AC) for her work in evolutionary genetics and science leadership. She is one of Australia’s leading evolutionary geneticists and received the 2017 Prime Minister’s Prize for Science for her pioneering work to unravel the mysteries of the genetics of sex.

“I love science because it’s a never-ending detective story,” Jenny said when she received the prize.

A leading light for women in science
Professor Amanda Barnard, the ANU School of Computing Deputy Director, was appointed as a Member of the Order of Australia (AM) for her significant service to computational science, medical research and education.

“The honour is a timely recognition of the importance of computational science today,” Amanda says. 

“For many Australians, the last two years have been the first time they have heard – sometimes daily – about modelling results, but mathematics, machine learning and supercomputing are pivotal to many of the solutions to our biggest challenges in science, health, the environment and society.” 

Philanthropists helping talented young people to achieve their dreams
Graham and Louise Tuckwell, who founded the Tuckwell Scholarship at ANU nine years ago, were honoured to be named Officers of the Order of Australia (AO) for their philanthropic work with the University. Graham’s distinguished service to the community in the business world was also acknowledged.

Their vision is to help talented and motivated students through university and inspire them to fulfil their potential and use their knowledge, skills and experience to benefit others. Hailing from every corner of Australia, each Tuckwell scholar receives up to $25,000 per year over five years for their study costs.

Graham and Louise provided $100 million to build two new student residences at ANU, which was part of Australia’s largest personal philanthropic contribution to a university when announced in 2016. Wright and Bruce Halls officially opened in February 2019 to become homes to more than 800 students. 

“It’s an honour to work with ANU to give talented young people from around the country the opportunity of a lifetime to study at one of the best universities in Australia,” Louise says.

“Our focus has been on bringing young people to ANU for the residential experience who would otherwise not be able to come.”

Graham says ANU is now “firmly on the radar among the top schools around Australia” thanks to the work they have done in partnership with the University.

“The Tuckwell Scholarship program is meant to be a celebration of excellence in education. It’s about giving the best young leaders the support they need to achieve their full potential,” Graham says.

A champion for people with disabilities
David Williams, a course convenor and lecturer at the Research School of Management within the ANU College of Business and Economics, received an AM honour for his significant service to people with disabilities and to education.

The accolade recognises the tireless work David has been doing for nearly 25 years to help people with intellectual disabilities to speak up for themselves, instead of relying on others.

“While I have been recognised previously for my work with the ACT Down Syndrome Association and Special Olympics, I was surprised to read the nomination included education,” says David, who was named ACT Local Hero in 2019. 

“Undoubtedly, this reflects my commitment to life-long learning and that the objective of education is not just to get a job, but to gain better skills and understanding and to influence how our world works.”  

David says people with a disability can advocate for themselves to influence policy and programs that affect them and build a more cohesive society.

“The opportunity to develop their ability is a privilege – all they need is the opportunity,” he says.

A physicist with a big legacy
The late Emeritus Professor John Love, who died in 2016, received a posthumous AM honour for his significant service to tertiary education, particularly physics.

For more than 40 years, his research contributed significantly to the fibre optic telecommunications industry while also advocating strongly for the education and training of aspiring students in the field. John created the Love Scholarship, which was set up to help ANU students whose circumstances would have prevented them from being able to study at university.

His colleague and friend Professor John Close, from the ANU Research School of Physics, says the Australia Day honour is “fantastic recognition of John’s great work in his lifetime and the legacy that he’s left behind”.

“The honour is also recognition of the pioneering work in his field, particularly with his work on fibre optics and the innovative use of light for new communications technologies,” John Close says.

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