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QUT researchers have identified a drug that could potentially help our brains reboot and reverse the damaging impacts of heavy alcohol consumption on regeneration of brain cells.
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We asked the Outstanding Alumni Award
winners of 2017 what advice they had for upcoming
Darryl McDonough has been named Alumnus of the Year as well as the Faculty of Law Outstanding Alumni Award Winner.
Kate Gifford is recognised for her contributions to the community through her work as a clinical optometrist, researcher, peer educator, professional leader and international expert.
Joel Pobar is a highly regarded software engineer, compiler, program language developer and technology.
Michael Brett is an expert in complex systems with extensive experience in developing and accelerating adoption of early stage technologies and delivering projects in aerospace, defence, high-performance sports and data analytics.
Wayne Denning has received a Special Excellence Award for Achievements and contributions to Indigenous Communities.
Christine Corbett is Chief Customer Officer of Australia Post and is renowned for her leadership in driving major innovation change.
Peter Greste is known for his contribution to journalism as a foreign correspondent, campaigner for freedom of speech and advocate for journalists imprisoned around the world.
Hon. Leeanne Enoch, MP was Queensland's first Aboriginal woman to be elected to Queensland Parliament, where she now holds the position of Minister for Innovation, Science and the Digital Economy, and Minister for Small Business.
Tina Coco AO is State Clinical Manager and Nursing Director of DonateLife Queensland, and has been a passionate advocate of organ and tissue donation for more than 25 years.
Michael Dempsey is an engineer, investor and entrepreneur with interests ranging from childcare centres to online digital platforms, hotels and real estate.
Each year we award our outstanding alumni who've achieved great things in their fields since graduation. Awards include:
Darryl McDonough has over 30 years' experience as a public and listed company director practising in corporate law, with an emphasis on national and international mergers and acquisitions, takeovers and capital raisings, corporate governance and competition law.
Darryl was appointed a Partner of Clayton Utz in 1993, with the task of building the firm's Queensland corporate practice. He served as Chairman of its Board from 2004 to 2008 and as its Chief Executive Partner from 2010 to 2014 responsible for over 1500 partners and employees, located in six Australian capital city offices. Retiring as a Partner in 2015, Darryl remains at Clayton Utz as a part-time consultant as he transitions to a full-time nonexecutive director career.
Darryl has served as a director of numerous listed and unlisted public and private companies including Bank of Queensland Limited and Super Retail Group Limited. He is currently independent Chairman of the Wiggins Island Coal Export Terminal group of companies, inaugural independent Chairman of QInsure Limited, and Chairman of ASX listed GWA Group Limited.
From 1998 to 2005, Darryl held the position of inaugural Deputy Chairman, and then Chairman, of the Queensland Competition Authority, assisting in its establishment as the regulator of monopoly businesses operating in the areas of rail energy and port infrastructure. He was also one of the Commissioners of the 1996 Queensland Commission of Audit.
Darryl was the author of Annotated Takeovers Code, a handbook for practitioners involved in takeovers of Australian companies. Published by the Law Book Company Limited, the book was the first of its kind to collate the law of statutory provisions, regulatory pronouncements and court interpretations of the law in relation to the takeover codes introduced in Australia in 1980's. Darryl also authored Annotated Mergers and Acquisitions Law in Australia, and Annotated Takeover Law in 2000.
During his career, Darryl has assisted many organisations and individuals on a pro bono basis, lending his skills and expertise to assist others to achieve their objectives. He was a member of Bond University Council from 1998 to 2003, and is currently a board member of two charitable foundations.
He is a Foundation Fellow, Past State President and former National Councillor of the Australian Institute of Company Directors Queensland Division, and a Fellow of the Australian Society of Certified Practising Accountants.
Kate Gifford is a clinical optometrist, researcher, peer educator, professional leader and internationally recognised expert in contact lens practice and clinical management of myopia (shortsightedness) in children and young adults.
After graduating from QUT's Bachelor of Applied Science (Optometry) from QUT in 2003 with First Class Honours and a University Medal, Kate joined Patrick Gerry Optometrists, now Gerry & Johnson Optometrists in 2005, and two years later took over this independent optometry practice in the Brisbane CBD.
In 2014, Kate became Optometry Australia's 41st National President - only the second woman, and the youngest person, to hold this post. In this role, she helped introduce digital platforms for communications with members and stakeholders, and led the membership to understand and respond to the Federal Government's proposed changes to Medicare benefits and indexation. With her strong focus on research, Kate also instigated a change to Optometry Australia's position statements by making them evidence based rather than being developed by peer consensus.
With her two year term concluding in late 2016, Kate now focuses on peer and public education about myopia (short-sightedness) and its evidence based management in young people. Along with her optometrist husband, Dr Paul Gifford, Kate has established website MyopiaProfile.com for practitioners treating young myopic patients, sharing a clinical framework tool she developed, and MyKidsVison.org to help communicate the myopia message to the public, which are both used by clinical colleagues around the world. She shares all of her conference lectures online and now works to connect colleagues across the world through establishment of a popular Facebook group for optometrists to discuss myopia science, clinical cases and management. It has grown to over 1500 members from more than a dozen countries in a matter of months.
Kate strives to bring the latest research into practice, reflecting on Australia's position on the world of optometry stage, with a view to advancing the profession and improving patient care and vision and eye health of the community. Kate actively promotes to colleagues the need for clinical and commercial training to evolve and embrace new practices. With a passion for education, Kate regularly hosts students in highly sought-after clinical placements in her practice, particularly QUT students who have an interest in paediatric optometry or contact lenses. She was a clinical supervisor at the QUT School of Optometry and Vision Science Specialist Contact Lens Clinic for several years, and remains involved with undergraduate education as a Visiting Lecturer.
Kate is currently undertaking her PhD at QUT part-time, examining the optics of eye teaming and coordination in contact lens wear for children and young adults with short-sightedness, due for completion in late 2017. Kate has been an invited speaker at over 80 national and international conference lectures and holds 38 professional and peer reviewed publications. Kate holds professional fellowships with the Cornea & Contact Lens Society of Australia, International Association of Contact Lens Educators, American Academy of Optometry and the British Contact Lens Association, which this year awarded her its inaugural President's Award for Contact Lens Excellence.
Joel Pobar is a highly regarded software engineer, compiler, program language developer and technology expert. Starting as a Research Assistant in QUT's Programming Languages and Systems Research, Joel has gone on to forge an international career working with some of the world's largest technology companies.
After almost a decade in senior roles at Microsoft's Seattle headquarters, Joel was approached by Facebook in 2012 to oversee a team of engineers developing a new programming language and runtime system called HHVM, the Hip Hop Virtual Machine which is a virtual machine for PHP (coding type). The two-year engineering project was a game changer for the company with Joel and his team driving significant innovation, efficiencies and cost-savings resulting in new advertising opportunities and revenues and improved user experience.
At 36 years of age, Joel is now Facebook's Engineering Director, managing a team of 100 located in San Francisco, Seattle, New York and London. His work and leadership has helped build Facebook's fast moving engineering culture which has transformed the company and helped facilitate its global dominance. Over 1.86 billion people actively use Facebook each month, and 300 million photos are uploaded each day on this platform.
As a technology innovator, Joel is a highly sought after speaker, participating in seminars and conferences across America, Europe and Australia including the YOW Australian Software Conference for developers as well as sharing his experiences with university students. Additionally he works closely with Brisbane's start-up accelerator, River City Labs. Over the past 4 years, Joel has lent his support to StartupCatalyst, a program which mentors young Australian developers and facilitates visits to technology giants, high-growth startups, corporate innovators, incubators and co-working spaces in Silicon Valley.
At just 33 years of age, Michael Brett is forging a career as an innovator, international entrepreneur and visionary technology leader.
A former Engineers Australia ‘Most Inspiring Engineer' and International Astronautical Federation ‘Young Space Leader', Michael is an expert in complex systems with extensive experience in developing and accelerating adoption of early stage technologies and delivering projects in aerospace, defence, high-performance sports and data analytics. Capitalising on prior experience in systems engineering roles, the co-foundering team at QxBranch saw a rapidly growing market in the finance and insurance sector to apply predictive analytic and quantum computing technology they had previously worked with in the aerospace sector.
As a co-founder and CEO of QxBranch, Michael is leading a US-Australian company with worldclass expertise in systems engineering, advanced data analytics, machine learning, quantum computing and risk analysis across diverse sectors. Headquartered in Washington DC, with offices in London and Adelaide, QxBranch is developing software that incorporates the unique properties of quantum computing into training machine learning algorithms to find patterns in complex data.
The company continues to grow its client base that includes Fortune 100 companies, investment banks, hedge funds, and aerospace and defence firms, and has recently delivered a quantum computing simulator to Commonwealth Bank of Australia that will allow the bank to explore and validate the commercial applications of quantum computing. In 2016, QxBranch hosted Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull at their Washington DC office during his first official visit to the US, demonstrating some of the most promising commercial applications enabled by quantum computing technology and highlighting the company's international collaborations and reach.
Michael returns to Australia regularly to present QxBranch's work, including at Wired for Wonder, Creative3, Australian Biomedical Engineering Conference, and River City Labs as part of the Queensland Government's Visiting Entrepreneur Program. QxBranch's work in quantum computing has featured in The Economist, Washington Post, Australian Financial Review, Forbes and Aerospace America.
Wayne Denning, a proud Birri Gubba man from Blackwater, left a successful career in Federal Government in 2006 to establish his own award winning business, Carbon Media, a then full service creative agency and production company, designed to give a positive voice to Indigenous Australians through innovative, engaging design content and strategy for corporations and children's television.
Carbon Media was born out of a business plan developed during Wayne's MBA and then brought to life over four years in the Creative Enterprise Australia incubator at QUT. Wayne has produced hours of screen content including ABC3's Handball Heroes, children's game shows Go Lingo! and Letterbox for NITV and ABC3, documentaries Intune, Blacktracks, From the Ashes and ProppaNOW, and the multi-platform, ground-breaking documentary series First Footprints.
In 2013, Wayne made TV history producing the first ever Australian content for Sesame Street, '5 Kangaroos', starring pop sensation, Jess Mauboy hitting over 780 million views across 140 countries. Since then Carbon has gone on to produce content for Sesame Street every season.
These days, Carbon's focus is firmly on advertising, developing and producing campaigns anchored in positive social change for Indigenous and non-indigenous Australians alike with it's most recent work in smoking cessation and domestic and family violence education for youth.
In addition to advertising, Wayne's passion for social change extends to his own projects, including STEM.I.AM, an initiative created in 2016 to promote Indigenous youth from grades 5 – 12 into engineering, science, technology and mathematics.
Wayne holds a number of board positions including Deputy Chair of the National Film and Sound Archive and as a board member of the Queensland Theatre Company. He is also an Advance Queensland Digital Champion.
Christine Corbett is a business strategist with a successful track record in managing large and complex teams to drive a balance of commercial, customer and stakeholder results and experiences.
Since joining Australia Post in 1990, Christine has helped transform the product and service offerings of the 207-year-old iconic brand to ensure its financial sustainability whilst continuing to meet the challenges of balancing its commercial and social obligations in a time of major digital disruption.
Having held a number of key leadership roles across retail, mail network, strategy, major change, marketing and communications, Christine has led major innovative change designed to be responsive to community and corporate social responsibility and has delivered new revenue streams in both mature and emerging markets. In her current role as Chief Customer Officer she is responsible for meeting the evolving needs of Australia's diverse and geographically disparate communities and businesses and has oversight of all key customer touch points which amounts to over 10 million customer interactions daily across Australia's largest retail network of over 4000 post offices, the customer contact centre and digital channels.
Her commitment to advocating for social inclusion has been a driving force in her career and is something that has strongly influenced her leadership journey. She has both increased the representation of women in management roles in the retail and mail network businesses, and the representation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders within her workforce through dedicated traineeships. As Australia's Post's Disability Ambassador, Christine also champions the contribution of people with disability through workforce participation and accessibility of products and services.
In 2016, Christine was recognised in the Australian Financial Review and Westpac ‘100 Women of Influence' Awards in the Board and Management category, and recently spoke at the QUT Real World Futures Disruptive Influences Conference.
Peter Greste is an international award winning journalist, author and speaker.
He began his career in regional television before venturing overseas to pursue his dream of becoming a foreign correspondent. As a young freelance reporter he covered a wide range of high profile international events including the war in Yugoslavia, South Africa's first multi-party post-apartheid elections and, as BBC correspondent, the civil war and emergence of the Taliban across Afghanistan.
He helped launch the BBC's 24 hour domestic TV news service, News 24, but returned to reporting in 1999. In the 12 years that followed he worked on a range of difficult, and often dangerous assignments, in places as diverse as Mexico City, Buenos Aires, Mombasa, Afghanistan, Iraq, and Kenya where he covered eastern and southern Africa, with a particular focus on ongoing crises in Somalia, the Democratic Republic of Congo and South Sudan. In 2011, he made a documentary on Somalia for the BBC's Panorama program dedicated to the memory of his producer Kate Payton, who was shot and killed during a previous assignment. The documentary won a Peabody award for Excellence and meritorious public service.
In 2013, during a Christmas/New Years' assignment in Egypt as Al Jazeera English television's East Africa correspondent, Peter and his colleagues were arrested and charged with aiding a banned organisation (the Muslim Brotherhood), financing a banned organisation and broadcasting false news. They were later tried, convicted and sentenced to seven to ten years' incarceration by Egyptian authorities in a court case that was globally condemned as an abuse of due process and fundamental human rights. In 2015, Peter was deported back to Australia and his colleagues pardoned and released nine months later.
Peter continues to be a devoted campaigner for freedom of speech and advocate for journalists imprisoned around the world and is currently writing a book on his experience in Egypt and on the role of journalism in the War on Terror.
Peter's work has been recognised with numerous awards including the Australian Human Rights Commission Medal, Walkley Award for Outstanding Contribution to Journalism, the International Association of Press Clubs' Freedom of Speech Award, Australian of the Year Award - Queensland Finalist, and the RSL Peace Medal. In 2015 he received an Honorary Doctorate from Griffith University for his services to journalism.
As the first member of her family to graduate from university, Leeanne Enoch developed a lifelong commitment to education early in her life.
She spent more than a decade as a high school teacher, working in schools throughout south-east Queensland and in East London, where her passion for community development and social justice grew stronger.
After leaving teaching, Leeanne held senior roles in local and state government, leading the development and implementation of policies to support some of Queensland's most at-risk families.
She also worked for the Australian Red Cross for seven years and in various leadership roles at the state and national level – guiding humanitarian policy and programs to improve the lives of Australia's most vulnerable–and has assisted the Queensland Council of Unions on its Indigenous Working Party to develop policy and strategies for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, and worked with their stolen wages campaign.
Leeanne is a proud Quandamooka woman from North Stradbroke Island and the mother of two sons. She was the first Aboriginal woman to be elected to Queensland Parliament after winning the seat of Algester in the 2015 state election.
As a Member of the Queensland Cabinet, Leeanne is the current Minister for Innovation, Science and the Digital Economy, and Minister for Small Business. In her role, she has earned the respect of the education sector and research communities as a champion for STEM – science, technology, engineering and maths – programs.
In particular, she is a passionate advocate for the $420 million whole-of-government Advance Queensland initiative, which is providing funding over four years to drive innovation, collaboration, job creation and entrepreneurial spirit in Queensland – helping to turn great ideas into commercial products and businesses.
Tina Coco has been a passionate advocate of organ and tissue donation for more than 25 years.
Tina's career began as a registered nurse and later as an operating room nurse, working closely with liver and kidney transplant surgeries, and this sparked a curiosity to learn more about how organs came into the operating theatre and the story of the generous people and families who made these donations possible. Soon after she took on the role of Donor Transplant Coordinator at the Princess Alexandra Hospital and some years later became State Manager, establishing the state-wide organ and tissue donation agency in 1999.
As State Clinical Manager and Nursing Director of DonateLife Queensland, Tina has helped the service grow to an extensive network of specialist health professionals who are trained to care for donor families at one of their most vulnerable times of their lives. She has also championed changes to clinical practice and community education efforts which have significantly improved the number of Queenslanders choosing organ and tissue donation.
In addition to her professional role, Tina remains academically active. She has published widely on organ and tissue donation and has presented at numerous international conferences as well as providing training workshops in Latvia, Germany, Malaysia and the United Kingdom on communication and family care. She holds a teaching position with the University of Barcelona where she also gained a Masters degree in Organs, Tissue and Cell – the only Australian to have achieved this qualification.
Since 2005, Tina has regularly delivered lectures on the International Advanced Course for Transplant Coordinators in Spain, Qatar and Thailand and has held key positions on various professional committees in the organ donor and transplant space.
In 2017, Tina was awarded Officer of the Order of Australia (AO) for her distinguished service to community health as a leader and advocate for organ and tissue donation and transplantation coordination organisations at the state, national and international level.
Michael is an engineer, investor and entrepreneur with interests ranging from childcare centres to online digital platforms, hotels and real estate.
Michael began his career as a quarry and plant engineer and sales representative at companies such as Pioneer Concrete, Leighton Contractors and Caltex. Frustrated with inefficiencies in administrative or project tasks, Michael utilised his ‘knack' for problem-solving by turning his attention to developing computer systems and programs that increased efficiency, and saved time and money, and then applied these innovations to his various job roles.
After a short sabbatical overseas where he established a number of small businesses, he returned to Brisbane to pursue his entrepreneurial ambitions starting with a small property development business in Red Hill/ Paddington and then expanding into the childcare industry. It was during this time that Michael co-founded the online direct debit payment system Ezidebit, initially to address the problem of childcare fees in arrears.
The platform soon became Australia's leading payment processor. By the time Ezidebit was sold to US company Global Payments in 2014 for $305 million it was used by 16,000 businesses in Australia, New Zealand and Hong Kong to collect regular direct-debit BPay and e-commerce transactions worth more than $3.5 billion each year.
As one of Queensland's leading entrepreneurs, Michael has continued to invest in technology based companies and has stakes in tourism, medical/healthcare and real estate organisations. He is director of Pipeline Capital, and co-owner of the Normanby Hotel, OntheHouse real estate website, and the cloud based property management software company, Console.
Michael works closely with Brisbane's River City Labs incubator and is a sponsor of the StartupCatalyst initiative. He is also a regular speaker guest speaker on startups and innovation as part of Advance Queensland programs and the Brisbane City Council's Digital Speaker series.
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