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Nine new John Curtin Distinguished Professors announced

Media release

Curtin University has recognised the service of nine outstanding academics by awarding them the prestigious title of John Curtin Distinguished Professor, the highest honour the University can award its academic staff.

2017 John Curtin Distinguished Professor recipients

This year the accolade has been bestowed on Professors Teri Balser; Phil Bland; Victor Calo; Neil Foster; and Shaobin Wang from Curtin’s Faculty of Science and Engineering; Professor Mark Harris from the Faculty of Business and Law, and Professors Michael Berndt, Simone Pettigrew and Christopher Reid from the Faculty of Health Sciences.

Curtin University Vice-Chancellor Professor Deborah Terry said the title of John Curtin Distinguished Professor recognised the sustained contributions the academics have made to the University and to the wider community.

“Since the title was introduced in 2005, it has been awarded to 47 exceptional staff members who have made significant contributions to the University in both research and teaching, and helped build Curtin’s national and global reputation,” Professor Terry said.

“John Curtin Distinguished Professors are academics who go above and beyond to obtain outstanding results, and I congratulate the new recipients on being recognised.”

Professor Phil Bland, is an ARC Laureate Fellow and leader of the Desert Fireball Network in the School of Earth and Planetary Sciences. His research interests are in the origin and early evolution of the Solar System through analysis of primitive meteorites and cometary samples – their chemistry, textures, magnetic and material properties.

Professor Victor Calo, is the CSIRO Professional Chair in Computational Geoscience. He is a Highly-Cited Researcher in the Academic Ranking of World Universities of the Shanghai Jiao Tong University and Thomson Reuters, and has authored over 170 peer reviewed publications.

Professor Neil Foster, from the Department of Chemical Engineering, is regarded as a global leader in the fields of Supercritical Fluids (SCFs) and Gas Expanded Liquids (GXLs). During the last 30 years in academia, he has been responsible for sourcing total committed research funding in excess of $20 million.

Professor Shaobin Wang, is a Professor in the Department of Chemical Engineering. His research interests focus on nanomaterial synthesis and application for adsorption and catalysis, fuel and energy conversion and environmental remediation. He has published more than 300 refereed journal papers and he was recognised in the 2012 Thomson Reuters Citation & Innovation Awards in Australia.

Professor Teri Balser, is Dean of Teaching and Learning in the Faculty of Science and Engineering. She is known internationally for her pioneering work in soil carbon sequestration and microbial ecology, and was made a Fellow of the Soil Science Society of America in 2013. She is also known internationally as a change agent and innovator in higher education, working with UNESCO and as a Fulbright Distinguished Chair to improve STEM education worldwide.

Professor Mark Harris, from the Faculty of Business and Law, has made a significant national and international impact in the field of applied economics and econometrics. He has been awarded eight ARC Discovery Project grants and has held ARC funding continually since 2003. He has published over 60 journal articles, books and book chapters, which have been cited over 2,000 times and is regularly ranked in the top 10 per cent of economists worldwide.

Professor Simone Pettigrew, is a Research Professor in the School of Psychology. Her research focus is in the area of health promotion and how to encourage individuals to make behavioural changes to improve their health. Much of her work focuses on vulnerable populations, and her specific areas of interest include child obesity, alcohol consumption, mental health, and ageing.

Professor Christopher Reid, is a cardiovascular epidemiologist and clinical trial specialist in the School of Public Health. His research vision for clinical research at Curtin is based on leading research to improve cardiovascular outcomes through the use of large scale clinical trials (RCTs), clinical registries, epidemiological modelling and translational research. Since 2009, he has received a number of peer reviewed national and international research grants as a Chief Investigator totalling more than $70 million.

Professor Michael Berndt, is the Pro Vice-Chancellor of the Faculty of Health Sciences. He is being recognised for his outstanding service to Curtin, and his distinguished research record in the areas of thrombosis, inflammation, vascular biology and biomedical diagnostics. He has received numerous national and international research awards including the Glaxo-Wellcome Medal in 1996 and the Distinguished Career Award for the International Society of Thrombosis and Haemostasis in 2003. He will be awarded the title of John Curtin Distinguished Emeritus Professor on his retirement from the University in April 2018.

Three Curtin academics have also had their John Curtin Distinguished Professor titles renewed for a further five years.

Professor John Hartley, from the Faculty of Humanities, has a national and international reputation as a leader in the fields of communication, media, journalism, and cultural science and is recognised for his exceptional scholarly achievement. He is also the author of 30 books and more than 200 research papers.

Professor Richard Oliver, from the Faculty of Science and Engineering, helped establish the Centre for Crop and Disease Management at Curtin, where he is Chief Scientist. One of his more notable discoveries includes the development of new genetic tools that speed up the selection of wheat varieties resistant to fungal pathogens. This discovery has helped Australian farmers save up to $200 million per year.

Professor Syed Islam, from the Faculty of Science and Engineering, is the founding Director of Curtin’s Centre for Smart Grid and Sustainable Power Systems. He is known for his outstanding contribution to Curtin’s research and research training effort in electrical power engineering.

John Curtin Distinguished Professors are academics with exceptional teaching expertise, research skills, or scholarly, creative or artistic achievements; a significant record of public service and an established national or international reputation.