Four female professors awarded Order of Australia

Katherine Belov. 

Katherine Belov. 

Outstanding members of the University of Sydney community including four female professors have been recognised in the 2019 Queen’s Birthday Honours.

Four women professors at the University of Sydney have been recognised in this year’s national honours program for their outstanding contributions to higher education.

Professors Katherine Belov , Rae Cooper ,  Mary Chiarella  and  Hala Zreiqat were named in the Queen’s Birthday 2019 Honours List, announced by the Governor-General today.

Emeritus Professor Leo Radom  was named a Companion in the General Division: awarded for eminent achievement and merit of the highest degree in service to Australia.

Philanthropist Kay Van Norton Poche, who funded the Poche Centre for Indigenous Health at the University of Sydney together with Greg Poche AO and Reg Richardson AM, was also awarded an Officer in the General Division (AO).

Awarded twice a year on Australia Day and the Queen’s Birthday, the Order of Australia is unique to other honours in that it was designed for the community to make nominations.

Vice-Chancellor and Principal of the University of Sydney Dr Michael Spence extended his congratulations to the professors - and all of the University’s community that received awards this year.

"We are delighted that these tremendously talented women have been recognised and valued for their influential work," said Dr Spence.

"We have to shift the dial in public recognition of the extraordinary contribution of Australian women, and in the opportunities open to them." 

Professor Katherine Belov AO

The Professor of Comparative Genomics was awarded an Officer in the General Division for distinguished service to higher education, particularly to comparative genomics, as an academic and researcher.

Over the past 15 years, Professor Belov has led the Australiasian Wildlife Genomics Group at the University of Sydney. More than 60 students and postdocs have worked in the lab under Professor Belov’s leadership.

"This award is clear recognition of the tireless work that they have invested in conserving some of Australia’s most endangered native animals," said Professor Belov, who also leads the University’s global engagement strategy as Pro Vice-Chancellor (Global Engagement).

The team have begun conducting genetic rescue of Tasmanian devils in the wild and have halted the extinction vortex that they entered. Rather than fearing that Tasmanian devils would go extinct, Australia is now hopeful about the species’ future, thanks to Professor Belov’s work.

Last year Professor Belov led a team of Australian and international scientists to complete the  world-first full sequencing of the koala genome. They have recently launched a crowdfunding campaign to sequence 50 genomes of threatened Australian species in 5 years, called  50 in 5 .

Professor Rae Cooper AO

Professor Cooper was awarded an Officer in the General Division for distinguished service to higher education, particularly in the field of employment relations, and workplace policy and practice.

Co-Director of the Women, Work & Leadership Research Group , Professor Cooper is a leading researcher on the world of work, particularly in gender and work, women’s careers and flexible employment. She is also Associate Dean (Programs) at the University of Sydney Business School.

In addition to her academic roles, Professor Cooper been a non-Executive Director on several boards of public sector businesses and NGOs including three years as Chair of the Board of Directors of Australian Hearing and three years as a NED for the NSW TAFE Commission.

She has played a leadership role in organisations in the women’s policy area including previously being Chair of both the NSW Premiers Expert Advisory Council on Women and the NSW Working Women’s Centre.

Professor Elizabeth Chiarella AM

For significant service to nurse and midwifery education, and to health care standards, Professor Chiarella was named a Member in the General Division.

Professor of Nursing at Sydney Nursing School , Professor Chiarella is an internationally recognised nurse leader with a distinguished career in nursing services.

She established the world’s first professional doctorate in midwifery (Doctor of Midwifery) at UTS, which has been completed by many of Australia’s and New Zealand’s current midwifery leaders.

During her time as Chair of the Australian Nursing and Midwifery Council, she led the regulatory negotiations for nurses and midwives within the new national registration scheme.

Professor Hala Zreiqat AM

For significant service to biomedical engineering, and to research councils, Professor Hala Zreiqat was recognised as a Member in the General Division.

Director of the ARC Training Centre for Innovative BioEngineering, Professor Zreiqat was last year named the  NSW Premier’s Woman of the Year.

In 2006 she founded the Biomaterials and Tissue Engineering Research Unit at the University of Sydney. Pioneering the invention of new biomaterials and biomedical devices, the unit’s work is giving Australia a place at the table in the highly competitive global orthopaedic market.

Emeritus Professor Leo Radom AC

For eminent service to science, particularly to computational chemistry, as an academic, author and mentor, and to international scientific bodies, Emeritus Professor Leo Radom was awarded a Companion in the General Division: the highest degree in service to Australia.

"I feel very honoured to be receiving this honour, which also recognises the contributions made by the outstanding students, postdocs and senior associates with whom I have been fortunate to be associated during my scientific career," said Emeritus Professor Radom.

Rather than using traditional laboratory-based techniques, Emeritus Professor Radom from the University of Sydney School of Chemistry studies molecules and their reactions by computer calculations. His computational quantum chemistry approach can describe and predict the structures of molecules and the mechanisms of chemical reactions.

Emeritus Professor Radom holds eminent positions in the community as a Fellow of the Australian Academy of Science, the Royal Society of Chemistry (UK), the Royal Society of NSW and Distinguished Fellow of the Royal Australian Chemical Institute. He has also been prominently involved in major international organisations in his field, including being a Past President of the World Association of Theoretical and Computational Chemists and the current President of the Asia-Pacific Association of Theoretical and Computational Chemists

If you know a member of the University community who has received a Queen’s Birthday Honour, email us on [at] (p) au

A full list of all recipients is available at  

The winners of the Alumni Awards for 2019 have been announced, with graduates from a wide range of disciplines celebrated for making invaluable contributions to their field, and the University community.

Australian workplaces are not ready to meet young women’s career aspirations or support their future success, according to a new national report by University of Sydney researchers.

Sydney has led the world-first sequencing of the koala genome in a global consortium spanning 54 scientists in 29 organisations. It will inform conservation efforts - from diet to genetic diversity - of our iconic marsupial.