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2019 Alumni Award winners

Leaders in high performance sport, electronic gaming, business and information were among eleven distinguished Federation University graduates to be recognised at the 2019 Alumni Awards on Tuesday 2 July.

Introduced in 2014, the Federation University Alumni Awards have recognised many of our prominent and successful graduates, both nationally and internationally. The 2019 awards will bring the total number of recipients to 40.

This year’s awardees will join other prominent alumni members including former Victorian Premier Steve Bracks, biotechnology entrepreneur Kiran Mazumdar-Shaw, athletics champion Steve Moneghetti, Vegemite inventor Cyril Callister and film maker Roger Donaldson.

Vice-Chancellor and President, Professor Helen Bartlett said, “These awards are an opportunity to recognise the success and achievements of our alumni and to inspire our current students to chase their dreams once they graduate. As Federation University alumni members, the award recipients join more than 107,000 other successful graduates since the University’s beginnings in 1870. I congratulate our alumni award recipients and share with our whole university community an enormous sense of pride in their achievements.

If you are, or know, an outstanding alumni you can find more information on how to nominate for the 2020 awards here

The 2019 Alumni Award recipients are:

Alumnus of the Year

Mr Michael Poulton

Field of Study:
Education

Nomination Category:
Outstanding professional achievement

Michael Poulton has distinguished himself in the world of high performance sport after lecturing in sports coaching at the University of Ballarat for over 17 years. Michael initiated transformational changes within the Australian Football League (AFL) to reshape coach education. He has created coaching development programs from grassroots through to elite level sports and mentored Olympic track and field coaches leading into the Beijing and London Olympic Games.

Alumna of the Year

Ms Dayle Stevens

Field of Study:
Information Technology

Nomination Category:
Outstanding professional achievement

Dayle Stevens is an award-winning technology executive who is passionate about making a difference in gender equality in science, engineering, technology and maths (STEM). She co-founded the NAB Women in Technology movement, is Chair of the Board of Robogals Global and an Ambassador at Girl Geek Academy. Dayle has been named in the CIO50 list as one of Australia’s top Chief Information Officers and was named as one of the Australian Financial Review’s 100 Women of Influence in 2018. She has won the Australian Computer Society Digital Disruptor Awards twice and also been a finalist in the Telstra Business Women’s Awards twice. Her contribution to the Queen’s Young Leaders Programme was recognised at a meeting with Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II.

International Alumnus of the Year

Mr Samuel Mayo

Field of Study:
Information Technology

Nomination Category:
Outstanding professional achievement

Samuel Mayo is at the forefront of competitive professional gaming. Studying games development at University of Ballarat, his final year project saw him lead a team for the highly successful games company Infinite Interactive with their prototype coming runner-up in the prestigious Game Connect Asia Pacific 2008 awards. As a result he gained a foothold in the competitive games development industry and secured work in the USA. Since moving overseas Sam has worked for a range of companies including games industry titans Electronic Arts and NVIDIA. Sam plays a key role in NVIDIAs engagement with the growing field of eSports.

Distinguished Alumnus

Mr Rodney Beach

Field of Study:
Arts and Education

Nomination Category:
Outstanding professional achievement

Rodney Beach has made an exceptional contribution to the Learning and Development sector. In 2010 he founded Liberate eLearning, a leading provider of digital learning that has helped many of Australia’s largest organisations embrace new ways to provide learning in order for them to stay competitive in an evolving and globally competitive market. Liberate was named a ‘Business of Tomorrow' in the 2018 Westpac Business Awards. Rodney was awarded the 2018 Learning and Development Professional of the Year by the Australian Institute of Training and Development.

Distinguished Alumnus

Mr Benjamin Cole

Field of Study:
Visual Arts

Nomination Category:
Outstanding professional achievement

Benjamin Cole is an international award-winning designer creating cutting-edge apparel and graphic designs. He has designed for world renowned sporting brands and organisations including Adidas, Puma, Ferrari, Mercedes AMG, Real Madrid, Chelsea, Liverpool and A.C Milan FC. His work has received worldwide accolades including a FESPA Silver Award Hamburg in 2017. A commitment to finer detail, intricate industry knowledge within both design and manufacturing, and passion for exciting, new design concepts have enabled Ben to use skills learned at Federation University and successfully apply them to the international design world.

Distinguished Alumna

Dr Elizabeth Lewis-Gray

Field of Study:
Business

Nomination Category:
Outstanding professional achievement

Outstanding service to the community

Elizabeth Lewis-Gray began marketing her husband’s mineral processing inventions in 1995 and has grown their business, Gekko Systems, into the world technical leader in gold processing and low-energy mining solutions. Elizabeth has made impressive contributions to the mining sector, mineral processing innovation, business leadership and environmental management. She has been a key member of prime ministerial and industry delegations associated with the mining sector and has won numerous business and entrepreneurial awards. Elizabeth was inducted into the Australian Businesswomen’s Hall of Fame in 2000 and named one of the top 20 Names To Know In Mining by the Canadian Institute of Mining.

Distinguished Alumnus

Dr Gregory McRae

Field of Study:
Mechanical Engineering

Nomination Category:
Outstanding professional achievement

Outstanding academic or research achievement

Gregory McRae is one of Australia’s most outstanding scientists of the past 40 years and a leading scientist in the USA across academia, corporate enterprise and the defence sectors. Greg has worked at several prestigious institutes including 25 years at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) where he was made an Emeritus Professor. Greg’s research stretched beyond chemical engineering and into IT problems, energy issues in generation, storage, transport and CO2 generation. He has received numerous awards including the NSF Presidential Young Investigator Award and founded four companies that provide services to microelectronic, chemical and operations support industries.

Distinguished Alumnus

Mr Vernon Wall

Field of Study:
Performing Arts

Nomination Category:
Outstanding service to the community

Vernon Wall has made a significant contribution to community theatre for more than 40 years. His acting career began at Ballarat Teachers College where he graduated in 1973. He has held several positions at the Bendigo Theatre Company, including President, and was made a life member of the company in 2010. Vernon founded the Bendigo Youth Drama Club and Bendigo Short Play Program, and was a major contributor to the establishment of the Ullumbra Theatre. Vernon has been nominated for several musical theatre awards and directed the Music Theatre Guild Awards in 2017.

Distinguished Alumna

Dr Jeanette Watson

Field of Study:
Geology

Nomination Category:
Outstanding service to the community

Jeanette Watson became the first female geology student at the School of Mines Ballarat (SMB) despite resistance from both the faculty and her fellow students. After graduating in 1947 she worked as a metallurgical chemist in Ballarat and Melbourne. In the early 1960s Jeanette taught herself to SCUBA dive and quickly developed a passion for the sport and the marine environment. She became a world authority on the taxonomy and ecology of hydroids (marine invertebrates) leading to a Master degree for research on the marine Hydrozoa. In 1972 Jan formed a marine environmental consultancy providing environmental assessments to industry. Jan has made an extraordinary contribution to marine science both in Australia and internationally and has been a great advocate for the environment.

Distinguished Alumna

Ms Julia (Bella) Guerin

Field of Study:
Teaching

Nomination Category:
Outstanding professional achievement

Outstanding academic or research achievement

Outstanding service to the University

Outstanding service to the community

Bella Guerin was the first woman to graduate from an Australian university when she graduated from the University of Melbourne in 1883. She began teaching at Loreto College in Ballarat before teaching arts and matriculation at the School of Mines Ballarat (SMB) in 1887, becoming the first female principal of SMB Arts and University classes from 1887-1890. Bella was a political activist with a commitment to equity for women. She was Vice-President of the Women’s Political Association from 1912 to 1914 and assisted one of the first women to stand for Federal Parliament, Vida Goldstein, during the 1913 senate election. She wrote and spoke for the Australian Labor Party, Victorian Socialist Party and the Women’s League of Socialists. Bella died in 1923.

Distinguished Alumnus

Dr David Stratton

Field of Study:
Information Technology

Nomination Category:
Outstanding service to the University

Outstanding service to the community

David Stratton specialised in computer networking and distributed systems. He maintained a full teaching and research load at the University of Ballarat for 14 years despite having Multiple Sclerosis. He was awarded the university’s first Doctor of Information Technology doctoral degree and led the Distributed Simulation Laboratory and the Virtual Reality and Simulation Laboratory. David remained in touch with research at Federation University throughout his retirement, assisting with the supervision of Honours students and driving research projects. David died in 2019.