Griffith University recently celebrated the exceptional contributions of its alumni at its inaugural Outstanding Alumni Awards gala dinner in Brisbane.

2018 University Winners

Twenty exceptional alumni award group winners in Arts, Education and Law, Business, Health and Sciences were recognised at the event, with the final four overall university winners revealed on the night.

The University’s overall winners in each award category are:

Katarina Carroll

Outstanding Alumnus Award

Katarina Carroll APM

Queensland Fire and Emergency Services Commissioner and 2018 Award Winner

Australia’s first female fire chief holds the torch for the next generation of leaders.

Remarkable story

Clinton Schultz

Outstanding First Peoples Alumnus Award

Clinton Schultz

Psychologist and social entrepreneur and 2018 Award Winner

A natural self-starter and always looking for new ways to make a positive difference in people’s lives.

Remarkable story

Qiyong Liu

Outstanding International Alumnus Award

Professor Qiyong Liu

Top scientist and public health specialist and 2018 Award Winner

Top scientist dedicates 30 years to combatting health threats in poor and vulnerable communities.

Remarkable story

Jessie Christiansen

Outstanding Young Alumnus Award

Dr Jessie Christiansen

NASA astronomer and 2018 Award Winner

The great unknown of outer space is the ideal playground for a NASA astronomer.

Remarkable story

2018 Group Winners

Outstanding Young Alumnus Award

Ajitha Naidu

Health Group winner 2018

Ajitha Naidu Sugnanam

B Oral Health in Dental Science 2008

Grad Diploma of Dentistry 2010

Ajitha Naidu Sugnanam is squadron leader in the Royal Australian Air Force and one of only a handful of dentists Australia-wide to hold the position.

Ms Sugnanam has excelled in her chosen profession of dentistry and dedicated herself to humanitarian work nationally and internationally. Ms Sugnanam has volunteered her services in Vietnam, India and Cambodia, assessing and treating hundreds of children, and in 2014, went on a humanitarian mission to Nepal to teach medical interns dental procedures. Every year Ms Sugnanam returns to India on self-funded trips, bringing basic health care to remote areas in India.

Caitlin Pearson

Griffith Business School winner 2018

Caitlin Pearson

B Business 2010

Caitlin Pearson is general manager of marketing and engagement at Macarthur Disability Services (MDS), a not-for-profit organisation supporting more than 1000 people with a disability and/or mental health issue, including their carers’ and families. Since joining MDS, Ms Pearson implemented a sponsorship and fundraising strategy leading to more than a 50% rise in fundraising revenue.  She was the winner of the 2017 Not-For-Profit Executive of the Year, at The CEO Magazine's Australian Executive of the Year Awards, for her achievements at MDS.

Ms Pearson has also volunteered her services to local charities and advised local council on accessibility and inclusiveness for people with a disability.

Dean Clifford Jones

Arts, Education and Law Group winner 2018

Dean Clifford-Jones

B Laws with Honours 2008

B Arts in Politics & Government 2008

Grad Diploma in Legal Practice 2009

Dean Clifford-Jones was the first person in his family to attend university and has achieved remarkable success in the legal profession, as a crown prosecutor and a principal child protection lawyer.

Mr Clifford-Jones founded Australia’s first Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Intersex, Queer (LGBTIQ+) association, Pride in Law, a not-for-profit LGBTIQ+ legal networking association that shares positive and informative stories with its growing membership. Pride in Law has since been formally established as a Queensland association to assist the LGBTIQ+ legal profession and their allies to network with like-minded individuals.

Jessie Christiansen

Science Group winner 2018

Dr Jessie Christiansen

B Science with advanced studies 2003

Dr Jessie Christiansen is a NASA astronomer who spends her days looking for planets at the NASA Exoplanet Science Institute. She has published discoveries on several exoplanets – planets around other stars – and co-authored discoveries on thousands more. Dr Christiansen is increasingly involved at the planning and management level of NASA missions and sits on several advisory bodies and executive committees.

She is an active mentor and educator, always seeking opportunities to foster women and under-represented minorities in the natural sciences, is faculty advisor for the Caltech Women in Physics, Maths and Astronomy society and a group leader in Caltech’s Women Mentoring Women program.

Outstanding International Alumnus Award

Petr Tichy

Arts, Education and Law Group winner 2018

Petr Tichý

B Digital Media Production 2004

M Arts in Film and Television Studies 2005

Petr Tichý has extensive international experience in film and television production and has worked in video and multimedia production for many years.

Mr Tichý is chief executive officer and chairman of the Barrandov Studios in Prague, one of the biggest and oldest film studios in Europe. Barrandov is the production hub for the international film and television community and aims to ensure the presence of all film-related fields and services in one convenient location. Mr Tichý and his team re-established film and television incentives in the Czech Republic, which is rebuilding its reputation as a prime destination for Hollywood and other international film and television productions.

Qiyong Liu

Science Group winner 2018

Professor Qiyong Liu

M Science in Public Health 2006

PhD 2014

Professor Qiyong Liu is a public health specialist in communicable disease prevention and control in China. He is internationally renowned for his research addressing climate change and health, devoting 30 years to combatting health threats to poor, vulnerable communities. As chief scientist and research leader, Professor Liu has produced a large volume of world-class, influential works. He has also built a formidable research team, tackling public health threats confronting China and the Asia-Pacific region, including air pollution and urban systems, and emerging zoonotic diseases.

Shirley Tay

Health Group winner 2018

Shirley (Poh Ching) Tay

B Nursing 2006

Shirley Tay is director of nursing at Mount Alvernia Hospital in Singapore, and part of the hospital’s executive team, dedicated to building affordable and safe healthcare. Ms Tay is also involved in the hospital’s outreach programs that care for the underprivileged in Singapore and Cambodia. She has 38 years’ nursing experience across medical clinics, private and restructured government hospitals, clinical quality, clinical informatics, healthcare management, operating theatres, ambulatory services and the Joint Commission International Standards. Ms Tay has built strong teams and promoted positive change across departments through exceptional strength in leadership, team building, collaborative partnerships and work process improvements.

Thanuji De Alwis Goonewardena

Griffith Business School winner 2018

Thanuj De Alwis Goonewardena

B Hotel Management 1998

Thanuj De Alwis Goonewardena has 27 years’ experience in hospitality, planning, design, construction and hotels. Mr Goonewardena returned to Colombo, Sri Lanka in 1998 after graduating from Griffith University’s Gold Coast campus, and took over the family business. With his brothers, he transformed the small family-run hotel, into a Mega City Hotel, boasting 94-bedrooms, two ballrooms, a restaurant, bar, art gallery and spa. Mr Goonewardena has also been involved in the design and development of hotel, resort, home, school and office projects, including the restoration of an 1846 colonial racecourse.

In 2009, he was honoured with a Sri Lankan Presidential Award for Young Entrepreneur of the Year and remains highly involved in Sri Lanka’s tourism and recreation industry.

Outstanding First Peoples Alumnus Award

Darren Smith

Science Group winner 2018

Darren Smith

B Science 1996

M Science in Clinical Physiology 1999

Darren Smith has been a respiratory scientist for more than 20 years and is a senior respiratory scientist at Sunshine Coast University Hospital. Mr Smith is passionate about Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health and specialises in the treatment of respiratory ailments. He is a member of the Indigenous Respiratory Outreach Care team and through the program has provided expert advice at outreach clinics, including Thursday Island in the Torres Strait. Mr Smith has also provided spirometry training to Aboriginal and Torres Strait health workers, including healthcare workers in East Arnhem Land.

His commitment to training the next generation of respiratory scientists is evident, having been responsible for the clinical supervision of 43 students on university placement and mentoring many of these students throughout their careers.

Clinton Schultz

Health Group winner 2018

Clinton Schultz

B Psychological Science 2007

B Psychological Science with Honours 2008

One of less than 20 male Aboriginal registered psychologists nationally, and a strong Gamilaroi man, Clinton Schultz founded, Marumali Consultations, providing culturally responsive social and emotional wellbeing support services to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities.

Mr Schultz consults on organisational cultural responsiveness and on the Queensland Child Deaths Case Review Panel. He also mentors Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander men and university students.

In 2016, he founded, Clinto’s Kupmurri, food van providing healthy native-focused food, and, Sobah, Australia’s first non-alcoholic Aboriginal owned craft beer, which is aligned to the, Sobah Initiative, providing culturally responsive support and programs to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities.

Delvene Cockatoo-Collins

Griffith Business School winner 2018

Delvene Cockatoo-Collins

B Leisure Management 1996

A renowned First Peoples artist, Delvene Cockatoo-Collins, is a proud Nunukul, Ngugi and Goenpul woman from the Quandamooka region of South East Queensland. As an artist and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander advocate, Ms Cockatoo-Collins, is committed to telling, preserving and continuing the story of culture and country, and received international recognition after designing the Gold Coast Commonwealth Games medals.

In 2012, Ms Cockatoo-Collins established a Minjerribah-based youth arts group and continues to draw artistic inspiration from the stories handed down to her, which relate to family, culture, history and the land.

Donisha Duff

Arts, Education and Law Group winner 2018

Donisha Duff

B Arts in Humanities 1998

B Arts with Honours 1999

Donisha Duff has worked tirelessly to improve pathways for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, as an advocate for health and supporter of girls’ and women’s educational and career opportunities. She is deputy chairperson of the Stars Foundation, a not-for-profit organisation providing school-based engagement programs for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander girls and women.

Ms Duff has held senior roles in government and not-for-profit organisations, and is an advisor to the Minister for Indigenous Health. Locally, she is general manager for the Deadly Choices preventative health brand for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.

Outstanding Alumnus Award

Alan Cowman

Science Group winner 2018

Professor Alan Cowman

B Science 1979

B Science with Honours 1980

Professor Alan Cowman, FRS FAA, is one of the world’s leading scientists in malaria research. He has published more than 260 papers in top journals and been elected a Fellow of the Australian Academy of Sciences (2001) and a Fellow of the Royal Society (London) in 2011.

Professor Cowman is head of the division of Infection and Immunity and deputy director of the Walter and Eliza Hall Institute; a senior principal research fellow, professorial fellow at the University of Melbourne and a visiting professor at Harvard University. He has played a major role in the nurturing of scientists to move on to leadership positions and mentored many PhD students and post-doctoral fellows.

Amanda Hodges

Griffith Business School winner 2018

Amanda Hodges

G Diploma Korean Language 1994

B International Business 1994

Amanda Hodges is an international strategic business, investment and government affairs executive leader with more than 20 years’ service in senior leadership and diplomatic roles across the globe. Ms Hodges is expert in managing international operations and delivering key government programs, and is a strong supporter of Griffith faculty and students in South Korea. Ms Hodges has found placements for Global Mobility Business Internship students in Seoul and facilitated high-level country briefing sessions for students and visiting faculty members.

Barry Thomas

Griffith Business School winner 2017

Barry Thomas

B Commerce 1994

Barry Thomas is vice president of Cook Incorporated and director of Cook Medical Asia-Pacific. He has more than two decades of international leadership experience in the medical device and pharmaceutical industries. Mr Thomas has fostered partnerships with academic institutions, physicians and researchers to find new medical devices, related technologies and solutions to key clinical and health challenges facing Asia-Pacific healthcare systems.

He is recognised as a valued commentator on innovation, the Australian healthcare system and reform, Asia-Pacific healthcare industry growth, the China-Australia business relationship and benefits of a robust healthcare system.

Gabrielle Quilliam

Health Group winner 2018

Gabrielle Quilliam

B Nursing 1995

Gabrielle Quilliam is an international thought leader in paediatric palliative care, and with her husband, co-founded the only children's hospice in Queensland, Hummingbird House.

Ms Quilliam is a non-executive director of Health Consumers Queensland and a non-executive director of the international charity, Butterfly Children's Hospice. She is also a foster parent caring for complex needs children.

Prior to this, Ms Quilliam worked for a humanitarian non-governmental organisation, Medair, as part of a mobile medical response team in South Sudan and Angola.

She has received a Premier's Award for her community service and was 2017 Queensland State finalist for the Australian of the Year Awards.

Jay Gambetta

Science Group winner 2017

Dr Jay Gambetta

B Science with Honours 2000

B Science in Laser Sciences 1999

PhD 2004

Dr Jay Gambetta is one of the world's foremost researchers in practical quantum computing, co-leading a team at IBM to develop a large-scale quantum computer. He also helped drive the creation of the, IBM Quantum Experience, a cloud quantum computer and became an IBM fellow this year.

Dr Gambetta has more than 12,000 Google-Scholar citations, has published several articles in Nature and Science, Nature Physics and holds dozens of patents. He is a fellow of the American Physical Society (APS) and vice chair of the Quantum Information Division of the APS this year.

Katarina Carroll

Arts, Education and Law Group winner 2018

Katarina Carroll APM

B Arts in Criminology and Criminal Justice 1996

Executive Master of Public Administration 2013

Incoming Queensland Police Commissioner Katarina Carroll APM has a distinguished public safety career in policing and the fire service, and became Australia’s first female fire commissioner in 2015. This achievement followed a 32 year policing career where she was a trailblazer for women in the male-dominated policing and fire services.

Commissioner Carroll was the recipient of the Telstra Business Woman of the Year Award for her contribution to improving public safety in Queensland and being a role model to women and girls aspiring to develop similar careers.

Paul Simhauser

Griffith Business School winner 2016

Professor Paul Simshauser

B Commerce 1993

M Commerce in Accounting and Finance 1998

Professor Paul Simshauser is a leading energy industry figure with more than two decades experience in the sector. He is the chief economist and head of corporate development with Infigen Energy and adjunct professor of economics at Griffith University. He also served as director-general of the Department of Energy and Water Supply, where he supported the Lockhart community through the Government Champion program. The program provided Queensland government chief executives the opportunity to work with communities to improve the life outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. In addition, Professor Simshauser has raised significant funds for student scholarships and prizes at Griffith University.

Phillip Di Bella

Griffith Business School winner 2011

Adjunct Professor Phillip Di Bella

B Commerce 1997

Professor Phillip Di Bella’s passion and entrepreneurial spirit led him to start Di Bella Coffee when he identified a gap in the coffee market. The business grew from a start up to the largest of its kind in Australia. He is currently a consultant for strategic sales and development at Retail Food Group, vice president of the Italian Chamber of Commerce and Industry in Brisbane, and chairman of Di Bella Group.

In 2010, Professor Di Bella’s became the world’s youngest recipient of an Italian knighthood for his contribution to the Italian community and is involved with numerous charitable organisations, most notably the Pyjama Foundation.