Historic group of UNSW graduates recognised with 2020 Alumni Awards

A record number of UNSW alumni were nominated for this year's Alumni Awards.


UNSW Alumni Awards were presented in a virtual celebration earlier this month


A record number of UNSW alumni from an array of backgrounds and disciplines were nominated for the 2020 UNSW Alumni Awards. The awards were presented earlier this month during a virtual celebration.

From the 122 nominations, seven distinguished alumni received awards in categories including research, professional achievement, social impact & service and innovation and entrepreneurship.  

Notable recipients included an Emmy award-winning director, the first UNSW alumnus to sit on the apex court of a nation, and a celebration of women breaking ground in STEM disciplines – not least leading the state's public health response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The awards honour the tremendous achievements of the University’s growing global community of alumni and the significant strides they are making for vulnerable communities and pioneering research and innovation.

“As a graduate of the University of New South Wales, I feel passionately about the work that our alumni do out in the world. I’m thrilled to be part of these awards to help recognise and celebrate many of the talented, committed and dedicated graduates across so many fields,” says David Gonski AC, UNSW Chancellor.

Among those recognised in 2020 is Dr Terri Janke (BA LLB ’95), a Wuthathi and Meriam woman and international authority on Indigenous culture and intellectual property, has dedicated her working life to protecting and empowering Indigenous artists.

Her award for Social Impact & Service was presented by Professor George Williams AO, Dean, UNSW Law, who acknowledged that “we’ve got over 300,000 alumni at UNSW, and only 210 people have ever won an award and you’re one of them.

“It’s a really inspiring story – not just for our Indigenous students but for all of our students – about being an entrepreneur, building a business, and serving the community at the same time. It’s really what we aspire to and hope our students can achieve,” Williams says.

Also honoured in 2020 were Professor Tamara Davis AM (BSc/BA ’99, PhD (Physics) ’04), a cosmologist working to enhance our understanding of physics through new insights about dark energy and dark matter, Lynette Wallworth (DipArt ’81, BAVA (Conv) ’85), an Emmy award-winning artist and filmmaker, and Dr Kerry Chant PSM (MB BS ’87, MHA ’91, MPH ’95), currently heading the state’s response to COVID-19 in her post as NSW Chief Health Officer.

Further afield, we recognised The Honourable David Dak Wah Wong (BCom ’76, LLB ’77), who has held two of Malaysia’s most senior judicial posts and led significant advances in access to digital legal services and justice across the country. Additionally, Moses Lo (BCom ’10) won the Innovation & Entrepreneurship category for his achievements in transforming Asia’s financial landscape by founding Xendit – one of the largest payment processors in Indonesia and fastest growing payment companies in the world.

Teela May Reid (JD ’16), a Wiradjuri and Wailwan woman from the Gilgandra in Western NSW, won the Young Alumni category for her achievements as a lawyer, activist and advocate for abolishing systemic racism in the criminal justice process and the Australian Constitution.

On accepting her award from Law Professor Megan Davis, UNSW Pro-Vice Chancellor Indigenous, Ms Reed emphasised the community significance of her award.

“For me, the recognition of this award is not just an individual, personal recognition for me. It’s the hard work of so many of our other trailblazers and ancestors and fighters,” she said.

“Today, it has been our great privilege to honour seven trailblazing, former students in the 2020 UNSW Alumni Awards. From artists and entrepreneurs to lawyers and cosmologists, we congratulate you all, and most importantly, we thank you for your passion, your ingenuity, and your commitment to change our world for the better,” said Professor Ian Jacobs, UNSW President and Vice-Chancellor.

2020 UNSW Alumni Award winners




Research Achievement

Professor Tamara Davis AM

BSc/BA ’99, PhD (Physics) ’04

Professional Achievement

The Honourable David Dak Wah Wong

BCom ’76, LLB ’77

Art & Culture

Lynette Wallworth

DipArt ’81, BAVA (Conv) ’85

Social Impact & Service

Dr Terri Janke

BA LLB ’95

Innovation & Entrepreneurship

Moses Lo

BCom ’10

Young Alumni

Teela May Reid

JD ’16

Chancellor’s Award for Exceptional Alumni Achievement

Dr Kerry Chant PSM

MB BS ’87, MHA ’91, MPH ’95