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Leading academics honoured by Curtin University

Media release

Curtin University has awarded two outstanding academics the prestigious title of John Curtin Distinguished Professor.

Professor Dawn Bennett from the Faculty of Humanities and Professor Leon Straker from the Faculty of Health Sciences were recently recognised.

The title of John Curtin Distinguished Professor is one of the highest honours the University can award its academic staff. The title was introduced in 2005, and has since been awarded to 31 staff members.

Curtin University Vice-Chancellor Professor Deborah Terry said the two recipients had made a sustained contribution to the University and to the wider community.

“Professors Bennett and Straker are very worthy recipients of this significant honour as they are making real and notable impacts in their specialised areas,” Professor Terry said.

“As a university we are continually striving to be leaders in research and teaching and the actions of these new John Curtin Distinguished Professors are helping Curtin achieve this vision.”

Professor Dawn Bennett is the Director of the Creative Workforce Initiative at Curtin, and a distinguished research fellow. She has a discipline background in music, with research interests in creative labour markets; the role of identity development in student learning; music education, and the impact of research policy frameworks on academic work.

Professor Leon Straker has an international reputation for research in the area of technology; activity and health, and is a nationally recognised as a leader in physiotherapy. He leads a research group in Curtin’s School of Physiotherapy and Exercise Science, and has worked in the area of prevention of musculoskeletal disorders for over 25 years.

John Curtin Distinguished Professors are academics with a distinguished national and international academic reputation; exceptional teaching and/or research skills, and a distinguished record of service to professorial and public life. The title is awarded for five years, or until the Professor retires or resigns from Curtin.

Current holders of the title include sustainability expert and advocate Professor Peter Newman, public health pioneer Professor Colin Binns and author Professor Anna Haebich.


Notes to Editor

Professor Dawn Bennett’s profile can be viewed here.

Professor Bennett has authored over 120 publications. She serves on several national and international editorial boards including the Music Council of Australia and the International Society of Music Education.

In 2010, she became an Australian Learning and Teaching Council Fellow with a project that investigated the role of identity development in student engagement. This work now extends to 300 academics in 212 countries.

Professor Leon Straker’s profile can be viewed here.

Professor Straker holds a National Health and Medical Research Council Senior Research Fellowship, he is also Associate Scientific Director of the Raine Study at the Telethon Kids Institute.

The quality of Professor Straker’s research has been recognised with a number of awards including the international Stephen Pheasant Memorial award for physical ergonomics research in 1999, the national John Lane award in 2004 for a major systematic contribution to advancing the science of ergonomics and its application in Australia, and ‘lifetime achievement’ awards from both physiotherapy and ergonomics national societies.