La Trobe's Alumni Awards announced

From science and conservation to sport and the arts: La Trobe University recognises its distinguished alumni.

Tim Entwisle, credit Janusz MolinskiThe Director and Chief Executive of the Royal Botanic Gardens in Melbourne, Professor Tim Entwisle (pictured left), Australian Program Director of The Nature Conservancy, Dr Michael Looker and triple Paralympian Tim Matthews OAM have been recognised with the La Trobe University Distinguished Alumni Awards for 2013.

Also honoured in this year’s Distinguished Alumni Awards were La Trobe University Professor Marilyn Anderson, known for her pioneering research in developing new varieties of disease resistant crops; Professor Antony Bacic, a leader in plant biology research and the Director of the University of Melbourne Bio21 Molecular Science and Biotechnology Institute; and Professor David Craik, a biological chemist who discovered a novel class of cyclic proteins which are used as a base for therapeutic drugs. All three are Fellows of the Australian Academy of Science.

Miriam Fathalla, a community arts organiser, has won the Young Achiever Award. Ms Fathalla was instrumental in bringing the international grassroots arts festival FIGMENT to Geelong earlier this year.

Adrienne E Clarke AC, Chancellor of La Trobe University, said that the University takes great pride in the achievements of its alumni.

‘There is no greater evidence of a University’s success and lasting contribution to society than the achievements of our most notable alumni,’ the Chancellor said.

‘La Trobe University takes great pride in the achievements of our scientists, with several honoured in this year’s Distinguished Alumni Awards. The Awards also recognise the diversity of our alumni’s contribution across sporting, conservation, community and artistic endeavour.’

The award recipients will be honoured at the La Trobe University Dinner on 3 October 2013. Two of last year’s award recipients, Elizabeth Proust AO and Bill Kelty AC, were unable to attend the 2012 event and will be acknowledged at this year’s Dinner.

More information about the awards and recipients is available here. 

Media contact

Rebecca Camilleri, Alumni and Advancement

T + 61 3 9479 3464 |


Distinguished Alumni Award recipients  

Professor Marilyn Anderson FAA, FTSE 

PhD BioChemistry 1976

Marilyn-Anderson-Alumni-Awards-2013-portraitProfessor Marilyn Anderson is one of La Trobe’s most preeminent scientists known for her pioneering research developing new varieties of disease resistant crops for the global agriculture industry.

Marilyn spent her early career in diabetes and cancer research in the US and returned to Australia in 1982 to establish a molecular biology group at the newly established Plant Cell Biology Research Centre at the University of Melbourne.  She joined the teaching faculty at La Trobe in 1995.

Marilyn’s current work is focussed on defence molecules produced by plants for protection against insect pests and fungal diseases and developing crop plants, such as cotton, corn and canola with desirable new genes.   With significant practical global applications of Marilyn’s work, her research is being developed by the Australian agribusiness company Hexima Limited of which she is a founding scientist and Chief Science Officer.

With an impressive 30 year career in scientific research Marilyn has been acknowledged as a Fellow of the Australian Academy of Science, of the Australian Academy of Technological Sciences and Engineering and of the Australian Institute of Company Directors.

Professor Antony Bacic FAA 

PhD BioChemistry 1980 

Antony-Bacic-Alumni-Awards-2013-portraitProfessor Antony (Tony) Bacic is an internationally-renowned expert and leader in plant biology. His research is focused on the structure, function and biosynthesis of plant cell walls (biomass) and their biotechnological applications as well as the application of functional genomics tools to biological systems. 

As one of the few experts in structural analysis of complex carbohydrates in Australia, Tony’s expertise has been highly sought after by groups interested in industrial and medical uses of complex carbohydrates as well as scientists involved in plant breeding and grain quality. 

Tony leads the Australian Research Council Centre of Excellence in Plant Cell Walls team at the University of Melbourne and is the Deputy Director of the Centre as well as the platform convenor of Metabolomics Australia, an NCRIS funded service facility. He is on the editorial boards of research journals Glycobiology, Plant Physiology, Planta, Plant and Cell Physiology, Frontiers in Plant Proteomics and Molecular and Cellular Proteomics, and is a director of several small biotech companies. 

In 2009 he was appointed Director of the University of Melbourne Bio21 Molecular Science and Biotechnology Institute, having previously held the position of Interim Director since January 2008. Tony is a Fellow of the Australian Academy of Science.  

Professor David Craik FRACI, CChem, FRSC, FAA PhD  

PhD Chemistry 1981, BSc Hons Chemistry Organic 1976

David-Craik-Alumni-Awards-2013-portraitProfessor David Craik is a pre-eminent biological chemist, renowned internationally for his ground-breaking discoveries in the field of circular proteins and their applications in drug design.  

David has made major contributions to the field of toxicology and has determined the structures of numerous conotoxins, as well as spider, scorpion, plant and amphibian toxins.  He has also successfully promoted commercial outcomes of his research through the development of pharmaceutical and agricultural applications.

Throughout his extraordinary career David has trained more than 50 PhD students, has authored nearly 500 scientific publications and has received over 14,000 citations. His significant contributions to peptide science were acknowledged in 2011 with a Ralph F Hirschmann award from the American Chemical Society, the world’s largest scientific society, and in 2012 he received the European Peptide Society’s top honour - the Josef Rudinger Award.  In 2013 David was elected to the Australian Academy of Sciences.

Professor Tim Entwisle

PhD Botany 1986

Tim-Entwisle,-Royal-Botanic-Gardens,-photo-credit-Janusz-Molinski,-portraitProfessor Tim Entwisle is a highly respected scientist and scientific communicator.  Tim has over 20 years’ experience in the management of some of the world’s most influential botanic gardens, and is highly regarded for both his impressive scientific credentials, and his infectious enthusiasm for plants and the environment.

In 2013 he commenced his role as Director and Chief Executive of the Royal Botanic Gardens, Melbourne, following two years in executive leadership at the Royal Botanic Gardens Kew, and eight years as Executive Director of the Royal Botanic Gardens and Domain Trust in Sydney.

Tim’s research passion is freshwater algae, and he has published extensively in this field. His PhD from La Trobe University concerned the discovery and classification of a group of algae never studied before in this country.  Tim is author of over 70 scientific publications, including three books, and has chaired numerous national and State committees.

Photo of Tim Entwisle: credit Janusz Molinski, Royal Botanic Gardens, Victoria 

Dr Michael Looker 

PhD Botany 2002, BSc Botany 1975

Michael-Looker-Alumni-Awards-2013-portraitMichael is a trained botanist and one of Australia’s conservation leaders. Appointed Australia Program Director in 2005, he was the first Australian to join The Nature Conservancy.

Michael has already led the Australia Program to achieve remarkable results including the protection of 3.6 million hectares through 28 land acquisitions and the establishment of a Corporate Conservation Council to forge a closer alliance between business and conservation. He has also developed close working relationships with Indigenous communities and organizations supporting their aspirations in looking after their country. Under Michael’s leadership the Australia program is currently working on conservation programs on over 120 million hectares of lands and waters.

Prior to his role with TNC, Michael served as the Director of Trust for Nature where he spearheaded the organisation’s transition to a landscape-scale conservation approach and helped expand the role of major gift fundraising within Australia’s environmental sector. Under Michael’s leadership, the Trust acquired Ned’s Corner Station—the largest private conservation purchase in Victoria. He was previously a Senior Lecturer in Environmental Horticulture at the University of Melbourne, as well as Superintendent of the Royal Botanic Gardens in Melbourne.

Tim Matthews OAM 

BA Outdoor Education Bendigo 1996

Tim-Matthews-Alumni-Awards-2013-portraitSince winning five gold medals at the 1995 National Athletics Championships, Tim Matthews established himself as one of the fastest arm amputee athletes in the world.  He competed in three successive Paralympic Games in 1996 (Atlanta), 2000 (Sydney) and 2004 (Athens) winning five Paralympic medals including three gold which included two world records at the Sydney Paralympic Games and was Australia’s fastest ever Paralympic athlete with a personal best over 100m of 10.86sec.

Beyond competitive sport, Tim has worked extensively as an advocate and leader within the disability sector.  He has volunteered for numerous disability charitable groups including Limbs4Life, for which he is a patron and Whitelion amongst others.

Tim is a generous mentor to aspiring Paralympians and has devoted his time to coaching and inspiring athletes to achieve their own sporting goals, including coaching 2012 Paralympic gold medallist and amputee, Kelly Cartwright.  In 1996 Tim’s achievements were recognised with an Order of Australia Medal.

Young Achiever Award recipient

Miriam Fathalla

GC ComPlan Dev Bendigo 2012

Miriam-Fathalla-Alumni-Young-Achiever-2013-portraitMiriam Fathalla engages and galvanises communities across the globe around culture and art.  

In 2013, working with the City of Greater Geelong and a team of volunteers, Miriam brought the international grassroots arts festival, FIGMENT to the Geelong community.  Following the success of the event and high levels of community participation and engagement, Miriam accepted a leadership role with FIGMENT Australia and joined its Global Governance Board.  

In the wake of the global financial crisis, Miriam spent six months travelling across the US, researching and writing about emerging social and economic structures through her blog This led to a keynote presentation at the Urbanized Summit in Indianapolis.

In 2010 Miriam created Anartchy, a performing arts in public spaces group and in 2011 she started Artists Anonymous– a network for Geelong-based artists to collaborate and network.