New Honours for ANU academics and supporters

12 June 2016

To be recognised in the Order of Australia is a great honour and wonderful recognition of the great contribution to Australia and society.

Prominent ANU academics and supporters have been recognised for their contribution to Australia in the latest Queen's Birthday Honours list, with Distinguished Professor of Engineering Brian Anderson receiving the nation's top honour.

Professor Anderson has been appointed a Companion in the Order of Australia (AC) for his role as a teacher and researcher, adding to his appointment as an Officer (AO) 20 years ago.

Also honoured by being appointed Officers (AO) were Professor John White from the Research School of Chemistry, the late climate scientist Professor Mike Raupach, and former ANU Council member and current Tuckwell Scholarship Trustee Dr Vincent Fitzgerald.

Professor Denis Evans, the driving force behind attracting the super computer facility to ANU and project manager on the new science precinct buildings, was appointed a Member of the Order of Australia (AM) for his contribution to science and particularly chemistry.

Philanthropist and science publisher Dr Elizabeth Finkel, who is a long-standing friend and supporter of ANU, was also honoured with an AM.

Vice-Chancellor Professor Brian Schmidt AC congratulated the latest recipients and all ANU alumni who have been honoured in the Queen's Birthday Honours.

"To be recognised in the Order of Australia is a great honour and wonderful recognition of the great contribution to Australia and society," Professor Schmidt said.

"On behalf of the University, I congratulate Brian, John, Vincent and Denis, and the friends and family of Mike Raupach, for their magnificent contribution to the University and to Australia.

"I'd also like to acknowledge the wonderful work of Dr Finkel, who along with the Finkel family, has been a generous supporter of Medical Research at the John Curtin School of Medical Research."

The Alan and Elizabeth Finkel Endowment funds the Finkel Prize for outstanding research at JCSMR, and the Finkel Theatre at JCSMR is named in honour of the Finkel family's support.

Professor Anderson first came to ANU in late 1981 and was a driving force behind the formation of NICTA (National ICT Australia), where he was its first Chief Executive officer and where he remains a Distinguished researcher.

He has also served as President of the Australian Academy of Science and on the Prime Minister's Science, Engineering and Innovation Council.

The citation says his award is: "For eminent service to information and communications technology, to engineering and to higher education, as an academic, researcher and author, to professional scientific associations, and as a mentor of young scientists".

Professor Anderson said he was delighted and surprised by the honour.

"It was a very big surprise. I've just been minding my own business as a research professor for the past 10 years. My achievements are much less than a Frank Fenner, or Nobel Laureate like Brian Schmidt, so it was a great surprise," he said.

"I am also very very grateful for the ANU as an institution. It provided a framework where I could do lots of different things, pursue my own research agenda and work on other projects such as NICTA and the PM's Science Council.

"I never did anything by myself. It was always with a great group of people, including students and fellow scientists. So I am so grateful to the ANU."

Professor Anderson also paid special tribute to his wife Dianne for her steadfast support for his career.

"Dianne has been an enormous support, and she has sacrificed quite a lot. She has been critical to the whole enterprise."

Professor White, professor of physical and theoretical chemistry at the Research School of Chemistry, was honoured for his global contribution to chemistry.

His award citation said he was honoured: "For distinguished service to science globally in the field of chemistry, as an academic, mentor and researcher, and through leadership of Synchrotron and neutron science projects in Australia and the Asia-Oceania region".

"It was a surprise and pleasure to receive the award and I thank those who nominated me, as well as my wife and family who have supported me throughout my scientific life," Professor White said.

"They, my students and scientific colleagues in Oxford, in Australia, in France and in Asia, have contributed to the pleasure and excitement of our science. They share in the honour of this award. 

"Particularly since coming back to Australia in 1985, I thank the ANU for a chance to start new science in the Institute of Advanced Studies and for the possibility of continuing it, as I am doing at the moment, even after formal retirement."

Dr Fitzgerald is a former Secretary for the Departments of Trade and for Employment Education and Training. He served on the ANU Council for 10 years and is a Trustee of the Alan and Elizabeth Finkel and Graham and Louise Tuckwell Foundations.

His award is: "For distinguished service to business through executive and advisory roles in economic policy development, public administration, and financial management organisations, and to the community".

Professor Mike Raupach, who died in February 2015, was a world-class climate researcher who led the ANU Climate Change Institute for a year after a distinguished career at CSIRO. He was awarded his AO shortly before he died.

Current Climate Change Institute Director Mark Howden paid tribute to Professor Raupach and said the award was a well-deserved honour for a great scientist.

"Mike was an outstanding scientist whose work was characterised by being able to bring basic principles of science together to deliver new insight and new technologies that are of real benefit to all Australians," Professor Howden said.

"Mike was also a wonderful human being, whose generosity in mentoring others was widely known and appreciated."

Professor Evans, who now works in applied mathematics at the Research School of Physics and Engineering, was honoured for his contribution to chemistry.

He was ANU Dean of Chemistry for 10 years, and has been a Fellow of the Australian Academy of Science since 1984. More recently, he won the prestigious David Craig Medal from the Australian Academy of Science in 2015.

"This latest honour really took me by surprise," Professor Evans said.

"It recognises the fact I've done a lot of different things, as well as the awards for science."

Professor Evans thanked his wife and parents for their sacrifices they made for education and career, as well as former Vice-Chancellor Professor Ian Chubb, and Robin Erskine, former Director of the computer centre, for their support during his major project work.