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UNSW Alumni Awards 2020

UNSW Alumni Awards 2020

The UNSW Alumni Awards program is an exciting opportunity for the UNSW community to discover and celebrate the trailblazers and transformers within our alumni community.  Please join us in congratulating our 2020 winners!

winner video

You can also view the above video on Youku

This year, we had to get creative on how we shared the good news to our 2020 winners. Learn more about the Alumni Award program and what we did differently with our teaser and award wrap up videos. 

Our 2020 Winners:

Research Achievement

Professor Tamara Davis AM
Tamara video

Professor Tamara Davis AM
BSc/BA ’99, PhD (Physics) ’04 

Tamara Davis is a cosmologist working as a Professor and Australian Research Council Laureate Fellow at the University of Queensland. Her research explores new fundamental physics, particularly the properties of dark energy and dark matter. Her work and insights are significantly advancing our understanding of the universe, helping us better understand the fundamental laws of nature. 

After graduating from UNSW with a Bachelor of Advanced Science and Bachelor of Arts in 1999, followed by a PhD (Astrophysics) in 2004, Tamara worked at the Australian National University before spending time abroad working at the University of Copenhagen. She returned to Australia in 2008 to commence her position at the University of Queensland and work on the WiggleZ Dark Energy Survey, which produced what was at the time the largest 3D map of the distribution of galaxies in the universe. 

Tamara then led the “Dark Theme” within the ARC Centre of Excellence for All-sky Astrophysics (CAASTRO) and is now leading the Australian Dark Energy Survey (OzDES), which began in 2013 and has measured thousands of supernovae and monitored hundreds of supermassive black holes. While at UNSW, Tamara was also awarded a University Blue for her sporting achievements. She represented UNSW in four sports at University Games, winning medals in three, and has captained Australia in Ultimate Frisbee.

Professional Achievement

The Honourable David Dak Wah Wong
David video

The Honourable David Dak Wah Wong
BCom ’76, LLB ‘77 

David Wong is the recently retired Chief Judge of Sabah and Sarawak, High Court of Sabah, Malaysia. In holding this esteemed position since 2018, David is the first UNSW Law alumnus in history to be appointed to the apex court of a nation, representing extraordinary recognition of standing, experience, and legal skills.

After leaving Australia following his graduation from UNSW in 1976, David started his legal career by joining a law firm in Malaysia in 1979,  progressing to become a partner, where he served until being appointed as Judicial Commissioner at the High Court in Kuching in 2005. From there, his career continued to progress until 2018 when he was appointed by the Yang di-Pertuan Agong (King of Malaysia) to the office of Chief Judge of the High Court. 

David was instrumental in implementing many progressive initiatives that have benefited many in the Malaysian community. This includes ushering in the computerisation of the courts, where mentions and hearings could be carried out over video conference, and later the e-court filing system where lawyers could file their documents through an online portal. During his address at the 2020 opening of the legal year, he also introduced a new court initiative – Artificial Intelligence for sentencing of certain crimes, aimed at improving efficiency and ensuring consistency in sentencing. 


Art & Culture

Lynette Wallworth
Lynette Wallworth video

Lynette Wallworth
DipArt ’81, BAVA (Conv) ’85 

Lynette Wallworth is an acclaimed Australian artist and film maker, an Emmy and AACTA award-winning director, and is widely regarded as a pioneer in the field of virtual reality (VR). Her artwork and films, which reflect on the connections between people and the natural world, have resonated with audiences in Australia and beyond.

Lynette’s works span VR and XR, feature documentaries, fulldome and interactive video installations which have been screened at venues and festivals across the world. Notable works include the interactive video installation Evolution of Fearlessness; the award-winning fulldome feature Coral, with accompanying augmented reality work; AACTA award-winning documentary Tender,  and XR work Awavena, which premiered at the 2018 Sundance Film Festival and was in competition at the 2018 Venice Film Festival.

Lynette has received many accolades for her work, including a News & Documentary Emmy in 2017 for Collisions, a VR work where Martu elder Nyarri Morgan tells of his first contact with Western culture, seeing an atomic test in the South Australian desert. Lynette was recently announced as a recipient of the prestigious World Economic Forum 2020 Crystal Award, which was presented to her at the World Economic Forum Annual Meeting in Davos, Switzerland in January 2020.

Social Impact & Service

Dr Terri Janke
Dr Terri Janke winner video


Dr Terri Janke
BA LLB ’95 

Terri Janke is a proud Wuthathi and Meriam woman and Indigenous lawyer, who is considered a leading international authority on Indigenous cultural and intellectual property. Throughout her 24 years as a lawyer, Terri’s mission has been to further Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander empowerment, and she is known for her innovation in establishing productive new business pathways between the non-Indigenous business sector and Indigenous people. 

After graduating from UNSW with a Bachelor of Arts Law in 1995, Terri started her career advocating for Indigenous Cultural and Intellectual Property (ICIP) rights and has since published prolifically on this issue. Through setting up her company 20 years ago, Terri Janke and Company has become the largest and oldest Indigenous law firm in Australia. Through it, Terri has changed the legal and policy landscape for the recognition of ICIP rights and regularly empowers Indigenous people to prosper. 

Terri has supported the community by completing hundreds of hours of pro bono work and hosting many interns. Additionally, Terri’s support of, and commitment to, the Indigenous community is demonstrated through board positions she’s held for: Jawun, National Indigenous Television (Chair), Ngalaya Indigenous Lawyers Association, and National Centre for Indigenous Excellence (Deputy Chair).

Innovation & Entrepreneurship

Moses Lo
Moses Lo winner video


Moses Lo
BCom ‘10 

Moses is the founder and CEO of Xendit, a payments infrastructure business in Southeast Asia. He founded the company in 2015 and has since built it into what is now one of the fastest growing payment companies in the world.  

Xendit enables businesses to accept payments, hold funds and send payouts at scale. At present, Xendit processes more than $2 billion (USD) per year for customers such as Samsung, ANT Financial and The idea for Xendit was hatched while Moses was still at UNSW Business School after he recognised the difficulties fellow students had in transferring money without incurring significant fees. Following his time at UNSW, he travelled to the United States to study an MBA at Berkeley.  

Moses’s leadership of Xendit led it to become the first Indonesian company to be accepted at Y Combinator, widely acclaimed as the best accelerator program for high-growth startups in the world. His entrepreneurial spirit and professionalism saw him named in the Forbes 30 under 30 Asia (Finance and Venture Capital) in 2016.  Xendit has also been recognised within the CNBC Upstart 100 and the Best B2B Payments Initiative in Southeast Asia.  

Young Alumni

Teela May Reid
Teela May Reid video

Teela May Reid
JD ’16 

Teela Reid is an activist, lawyer, and proud Wiradjuri and Wailwan woman from Gilgandra in Western NSW. She is currently a criminal defence lawyer at Legal Aid NSW and a passionate advocate for abolishing systemic racism in the criminal justice process and the Australian Constitution.

Teela was a lead researcher on the Walama Court Proposal in NSW and is also an advocate for constitutional recognition. She participated in the Sydney dialogue as working group leader for the historic Indigenous constitutional discussions and appeared on Q&A famously questioning the Prime Minister on his rejection of the Uluru Statement from the Heart.

Teela changed from an original career as a teacher to becoming a lawyer in 2010. This change followed her selection as Australia’s Indigenous Female Youth Delegate to the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues, where she was elected as the secretariat of the World Indigenous Youth Caucus. Teela completed her postgraduate Juris Doctor from UNSW Law, where she also conceived the idea of Australia’s first-ever First Nations Mooting competition. She was named on the UNSW Law Dean’s Women of Excellence List and was the first Aboriginal person to be elected on the UNSW Law Society as Vice-President (Social Justice) when she produced the trailblazing documentary: YINDYAMARRA. In 2017, Teela received a Roberta Sykes bursary to study at Harvard University within the Harvard Kennedy School, as part of the global Emerging Leaders program. 

Chancellor’s Award for Exceptional Alumni Achievement

Dr Kerry Chant PSM
Dr Kerry Chant PSM


Dr Kerry Chant PSM
MB BS ’87, MHA ’91, MPH ’95 

Dr Kerry Chant is the Chief Health Officer and Deputy Secretary, Population and Public Health, NSW Health.

Kerry has extensive public health experience in New South Wales, having held a range of senior positions in NSW Health since 1991. She currently leads the Population and Public Health Division, which has accountabilities for a broad portfolio of issues including communicable disease control, prevention of chronic diseases, drug and alcohol, research translation, and health system response to acute and emerging clinical issues.

Kerry has a particular interest in blood-borne virus infections and communicable diseases prevention and control, and as NSW Chief Health Officer she has played a key role in the state’s response to the current COVID-19 pandemic. In 2009, Kerry was praised for her outstanding leadership in the response to the H1N1 (Swine Flu) pandemic; the development and implementation of the NSW HIV strategy for 2012 – 2015; and in preparing NSW Health to respond to a case of Ebola, should the need arise in future.

For her achievements, she was awarded the Public Service Medal (PSM) in the 2015 Queen’s Birthday Honours for outstanding public service to population health in NSW. 

Award Categories and Criteria for 2020

For the 2020 Awards, we introduced six new exciting categories:

Young Alumni Award

Recognising outstanding achievements of our alumni aged 35 or younger who have achieved significant success or impact in a short career span

Art and Culture

Recognising the achievements of alumni who have made positive contributions to society, and the arts through creative and cultural disciplines

Innovation and Entrepreneurship

Recognising visionary alumni who are forward-thinking leaders in their industry, profession, or area of expertise

Social Impact and Service

Recognising alumni who are making a tangible difference to people’s lives or the environment, through service to community or country

Professional Achievement 

Recognising outstanding achievements and impacts of alumni in their chosen field or profession, spanning industry, government, sport, and more

Research Achievement 

Recognising the work of alumni whose research has produced innovative new solutions and significantly advanced knowledge and practice in their field

Past winners

UNSW Alumni Awards were first introduced in 1972. To date, there have been 210 Alumni Awards awarded.

Learn more about our past winners or see images from the 2019 UNSW Alumni Awards ceremony here.

More information

For any further information please contact the UNSW Alumni and Engagement Office. 

Ph: +61 2 8936 4716