Excellence and inspiration from the UQ Alumni Awards


The recipients of this year’s University of Queensland Alumni Awards are transforming communities across the world – from improving regional and rural healthcare, to saving threatened ecosystems and developing sustainable batteries.

Vice-Chancellor and President Professor Deborah Terry AO said the annual awards celebrated the outstanding achievements and impact of the University’s alumni community.

“The 19 inspirational alumni and community members receiving awards this year demonstrate that true passion and a sense of purpose are always at the heart of excellence,” Professor Terry said.

“They all share a deep commitment to social justice, sustainability and innovation, and we are proud to recognise them as role models for our broader community.”

UQ has more than 315,000 alumni from 190 countries.

Graham ColditzThe 2022 UQ Alumnus of the Year title was awarded to US-based Dr Graham Colditz, an internationally recognised chronic disease epidemiologist and expert in cancer prevention.

Dr Colditz has spent his career advancing knowledge around preventable diseases, and his work has helped individuals and medical practitioners to more accurately assess levels of risk for a range of diseases.

“During my medical training at UQ, I became interested in preventing the diseases that we were learning to treat, particularly chronic diseases and those caused by smoking,” Dr Colditz said.

With his team at Harvard University and then the Siteman Cancer Center at Washington University in St Louis, Dr Colditz developed Your Disease Risk, one of the longest running, publicly available online health risk assessments, designed to promote the importance of a healthy lifestyle to lower disease risks.Isabella Higgins

ABC News journalist Isabella Higgins is Australia’s first Torres Strait Islander Europe correspondent, and was among the recipients of the Distinguished Young Alumni Award.

Before she moved to Europe, Ms Higgins was the ABC’s National Indigenous Affairs Correspondent.

“I’m incredibly proud of the work I produced in this role, which I hope changed the conversation about First Nations communities,” Ms Higgins said.

“The time I spent in Ukraine as war broke out earlier this year was also significant for me.

“I tried to elevate the voices of women who were going through the unimaginable.”

The full list of the 2022 Alumni Awards are:

UQ Alumnus of the Year (award created by Alumni Friends): Dr Graham Colditz for outstanding impact in the field of cancer prevention and chronic disease epidemiology.

Vice-Chancellor’s Alumni Excellence Award:

  • Leeanne Bond for excellence in business and engineering and a deep commitment to innovation and sustainability.
  • Brett Clark for excellence in business and commitment to fostering positive outcomes for the community.
  • Dr Rolf Gomes for commitment to improving healthcare to people living in regional and rural Australia.
  • Debbie Kilroy OAM for commitment to social justice, and advocacy for Australian women and girls experiencing poverty, violence and addiction.
  • Dr William Yang for outstanding contributions to Australian culture.

Distinguished Young Alumni Award:

  • Daniel George for outstanding achievements and innovation in the finance, technology and education sectors.
  • Bianca Goebel for outstanding contributions to policy, engineering innovation and sustainability, as well as commitment to advocacy for young people and future generations.
  • Dr William Hawker for excellence in innovation and a commitment to sustainability.
  • Isabella Higgins for excellence in the field of journalism.
  • Sophie Yao for excellence in the venture capital industry.

Indigenous Community Impact Award:

  • Georgia Birks for advocacy for architecture that welcomes people of all cultural backgrounds.
  • Will Davis for outstanding contributions as a community leader, celebrating Murri identity and advocating for equality for Indigenous peoples.

International Alumnus of the Year: Dr Alue Dohong for outstanding contributions to the protection of threatened ecosystems.

Gatton Gold Medal: John ‘Safari’ Ziro for outstanding leadership in agriculture innovation and development to benefit communities in Kwale, Kenya and beyond.

Colleges’ UQ Alumni Award: Dr Robert McLeay for outstanding contributions to Emmanuel College, and innovation in the field of healthcare.

UQ Graduate of the Year (award created by Alumni Friends): Lillian Rangiah (Bachelor of Arts (Honours) 2021) for exceptional performance as a student at The University of Queensland.

Sportsman of the Year: Thomas Neill (current student) for swimming.

Sportswoman of the Year: Rachael Watson OAM (current student) for para-swimming.

Full details of the 2021 Alumni Award recipients are available here.

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