A man in a navy suit with a red flower in his buttonhole smiles broadly.
ֱ 2023 Alumnus of the Year Professor George Mellick.
27 October 2023

The 2023 ֱ Alumni Awards have recognised 18 remarkable individuals – local heroes and global – whose talents were nurtured right here in Queensland.

Each of the recipients are transforming communities for the better, such as nurturing the next generation of elite athletes, advocating for Indigenous people in health and law, advancing veterinary medicine, changing attitudes through documentary filmmaking or supporting the blind and low-vision community to travel the world.

ֱ Vice-Chancellor Professor Deborah Terry said the annual awards celebrate the outstanding success of the university’s alumni community.

“The inspirational alumni receiving awards this year demonstrate a deep commitment to knowledge leadership for a better world,” Professor Terry said.

“They are leaders, entrepreneurs, innovators, creatives and advocates for social justice.

“We are proud to recognise them as role models for our broader community.”

ֱ has more than 330,000 alumni from 190 countries.

2023 ֱ Alumnus of the Year has been awarded to Professor George Mellick, an internationally recognised researcher and passionate advocate for people affected by Parkinson’s disease.

Professor Mellick has dedicated more than 25 years of work and research to alleviating the suffering of people with neurodegenerative diseases.

He is the current President of Parkinson’s Queensland and Parkinson’s Australia and has contributed significantly to the leadership of research initiatives such as the Queensland Parkinson’s Project, Neurobank and Genetic Epidemiology of Parkinson’s Disease Consortium.

“My inspiration for pursuing research in Parkinson's came early in my post-doctoral career, when I had the profound experience of meeting people living with the disease and those caring for them,” Professor Mellick said.

“These are the people who provide me with inspiration to work harder, to be grateful for the privileges we enjoy and not to waste the chance to help others whenever you can.”

Among the recipients of the Vice-Chancellors Alumni Excellence Award is four-time Emmy-winning filmmaker and producer Karina Holden.

Her debut feature film Blue premiered at the United Nations, receiving the Okeanos Prix for services to the ocean and she played a crucial role in the ground-breaking series’ Love on the Spectrum and Go Back to Where you Came From.

“I’m incredibly proud to be recognised by the Producer’s Guild of America for advancing the portrayal and employment of people with disabilities in media and presenting to the General Assembly at the United Nations in New York on the subject of ocean conservation,” Ms Holden said.

“If I could change one thing for the next generation it would be advancing ecosystem restoration – to have a rich, diverse, vibrant natural world that will help our species to return to balance and allow co-existence.”

Full list of 2023 Alumni Award winners

ֱ Alumnus of the Year (award created by Alumni Friends): 

Professor George Mellick for outstanding contributions and leadership in the field of neurodegenerative diseases and in medical research broadly.

Vice-Chancellor’s Alumni Excellence Award:

  • The Honourable Dr Anna Bligh AC for unwavering commitment to positive change, leadership and serving communities.
  • Karina Holden for exceptional achievement as a filmmaker and executive producer and shining a light on conservation and the struggles of marginalised communities.
  • Dr Catherine Likhuta for outstanding achievement in the field of music, with widespread critical acclaim.
  • Professor John Pascoe for unwavering commitment to advancing veterinary medical education, the veterinary field globally and academic leadership.
  • Dr Glen Richards for outstanding contributions as a veterinarian, philanthropist and entrepreneurial leader.

Distinguished Young Alumni Award:

  • Famin Ahmed for commitment to social justice and outstanding contributions to the prevention of domestic violence.
  • Hailey Brown for entrepreneurial achievement in the tourism industry and empowerment of the blind and low vision community.
  • Dr Jordan English for exceptional leadership, a commitment to meaningful change and advancing Indigenous representation in the field of law.
  • Dr Paul Hodge for a remarkable quality of artistic works captivating audiences across the world, with widespread critical acclaim.
  • Daniel Wessels for outstanding achievements and innovation in the finance and technology sectors.​ċċċċċ

Indigenous Community Impact Award:

  • Dr Alicia Veasey for community leadership and advocacy for Indigenous self-determination within health systems.

International Alumnus of the Year:

  • Dr Raijeli Taga for exceptional efforts in Pacific Island development, sustainability, gender equality, environmental health and work with Indigenous communities.

Contribution to Sport Alumni Award: 

  • Tim Kerrison for remarkable achievements as a coach and sports scientist, unparalleled success in rowing, swimming and professional cycling and for nurturing the next generation of elite coaches and athletes.

Gatton Gold Medal: 

  • Tim Neale for leadership in agricultural technology and significant impact on sustainable agricultural production.

Colleges' ֱ Alumni Award:

  • The Honourable Dr Mary Crawford AM for an enduring commitment to public policy and gender equality.

ֱ Graduates of the Year (award created by Alumni Friends): 

  • Brodie Crouch for exceptional academic achievement and contributions to the community.
  • Dr Chloe Yap for exceptional academic achievement and contributions to the community.

The 2023 ֱ Alumni Awards were announced as part of the official Courting the Greats ceremony at Customs House on Thursday 26 October.

Find full details of the award recipients

Image above left: Karina Holden, Vice-Chancellor's Alumni Excellence Award winner. 

Media: ֱ Alumni Communications, uqalumni@uq.edu.au, +61 400 687 208.