2015 CHASS Australia Prizes Lunch Speaker

Deborah Joy Cheetham AO

Deborah is a Yorta Yorta woman, soprano, composer and educator who established her place as an artist in great demand. Since her international debut in 1997, she has performed in the theatres and concert halls of the United States, Europe, the United Kingdom, New Zealand and throughout Australia. She is the creator of Australia’s first Indigenous opera, Pecan Summer. In 2010, she brought together Australia’s first classically trained Indigenous ensemble to present the world premiere of Pecan Summer. Deborah is the creator of the Short Black Opera Company; a national not-for-profit opera company devoted to the development of Indigenous opera singers. The company has presented Pecan Summer in Melbourne, Perth and Adelaide. Deborah also serves as Associate Dean of Indigenous Development at the Faculty of the VCA and MCM, the University of Melbourne. In the 2014 Queen’s Birthday Honours List, she was appointed as an Officer of the Order of Australia for “distinguished service to the performing arts as an opera singer, composer and artistic director, to the development of Indigenous artists, and to innovation in performance”. In March 2015 she was inducted onto the Victorian Honour Roll of Women.


Professor Warwick Anderson, FASSA

He is a physician, poet, and historian. He is an Australian Research Council Laureate Fellow and Research Professor in the Department of History and Centre for Values, Ethics and the Law in Medicine (VELiM) at the University of Sydney. Additionally, he is an honorary professor in the School of Population Health, University of Melbourne.

Professor Paul Arthur

He is Professor and inaugural Chair in Digital Humanities at the University of Western Sydney, and President of the Australasian Association for Digital Humanities. He was previously Deputy Director of the ANU Centre for European Studies, a joint-funded special initiative of the European Commission and the Australian National University. From 2010-13 he was Deputy Director of the National Centre of Biography, ANU, and Deputy General Editor of the Australian Dictionary of Biography. A Fellow of the Royal Historical Society, he has published widely in fields of cultural studies, communication, history, literature and media, and has held visiting positions in Europe, North America and Australasia.

Renata Bernarde

She is the Chief Executive of the General Sir John Monash Foundation, which administers the John Monash Scholarships program. Prior to joining the Foundation, she worked for the Committee for Economic Development of Australia (CEDA) as the National Manager for Member and Corporate Engagement. Additionally, she has worked at the Institute of Chartered Accountants in Australia, Monash University and The University of Melbourne.

Sarah Blatchford

She is the Regional Director of Routledge/Taylor & Francis Australasia. She is Convenor of the Scholarly & Journals Committee (SJC) of the APA and is a member of the Board of Directors of the Australian Publishers Association. She is a member of the CHASS Board.

Professor Trevor Burnard

He is Professor of History and Head of the School of Historical and Philosophical Studies at the University of Melbourne. His books have focussed on plantation societies, slavery and economics in British America. He is also editor-in-chief of the Oxford Online Bibliography in Atlantic History.

Professor Ian Chubb AC

He is the Chief Scientist of Australia. He was formerly Vice Chancellor of the Australian National University and Flinders University. He was also president of the Australian Vice-Chancellor’s Committee, Chair of the Commonwealth’s Higher Education Council and ACT Australian of the Year.  Professor Chubb was appointed a Companion of the Order of Australia for “service to higher education including research and development policy in the pursuit of advancing the national interest socially, economically, culturally and environmentally and to the facilitation of a knowledge-based global economy”.

Dr Aidan Davison

He is a Senior Lecturer in human geography and environmental studies in the School of Land and Food at the University of Tasmania. The author of Technology and the Contested Meanings of and around sixty journal articles and book chapters, Aidan is fascinated and troubled by interdisciplinary questions of sustainability that arise at the intersection of themes of nature, culture and techno-science.

Dr Deborah Dempsey

She is Senior Lecturer in Sociology at Swinburne University of Technology. Deb’s research interests are in the sociology of personal life, genetic technologies and ageing. She is best known for her work on family formation in the LGBTI communities and the socio-legal aspects of same-sex relationships.

Dr Heather Gaunt

She is Curator of Academic Programs (Research) at the Ian Potter Museum of Art, The University of Melbourne. She collaborates with academics and their students across all disciplines at the University, creating co-teaching programs that use visual art to enhance cognitive and emotional skills.

Professor Paul Griffiths, FASSA

He is a philosopher of science with a focus on genetics and development at the University of Sydney and a Domain Leader at the Charles Perkins Centre for the study of obesity, diabetes and cardiovascular disease. He is also visiting Professor at Egenis, the Centre for the Study of the Life Sciences at the University of Exeter, UK, a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, a Fellow of the Australian Academy of the Humanities and from 2011-13 was President of the International Society for History, Philosophy and Social Studies of Biology.  His most recent book is Genetics and Philosophy: An introduction. Cambridge University Press 2014 (with Karola Stotz).

Professor Michelle Grossman

She is Director of Victoria University’s Research Centre for Cultural Diversity and Wellbeing, which explores the nexus between community wellbeing and cultural diversity through a range of interdisciplinary lenses and initiatives. Michele’s research focuses on policing in culturally diverse communities, countering violent extremism through community engagement, and the politics of violent extremist messaging.

Tony Grybowski

He is the Chief Executive Officer of the Australia Council for the Arts.  His 25-year career in the arts has included leaderships roles with a broad range of arts organisations, as well as arts policy work in state and federal government bodies. In the arts sector Tony has held management roles with the Victorian Arts Centre, the Sydney Symphony Orchestra, Musica Viva Australia and the Australian Youth Orchestra. With over a decade working in government bodies, Tony’s experience includes arts policy development and program delivery in the Victorian Government and five years as Executive Director Arts Organisations with the Australia Council, before taking on the role of Chief Executive. Prior to working Government, Tony served on a range of arts Boards and Committees, including the contemporary music ensemble Elision, Youth Music Australia, Arts NSW Music Committee and the advisory Board for the Australian National University Institute for the arts.

Professor Brian Head

He is Professor of Policy Analysis at the University of Queensland. He also held several senior roles in government. He has published widely on public policy, public management, social issues, and environmental policy. He has won funding for projects on research utilization, research impacts, wicked problems, policy innovation, natural resources issues, and social program evaluation. He is a Fellow of the Academy of Social Sciences in Australia, and was president of the Australian Political Studies Association in 2013-14.

Dr Tangerine Holt

She is the Executive Director of the Australian-American Fulbright Commission, one of 50 Fulbright bi-national commissions globally. The Commission promotes education and cultural exchange between Australia and the United States in order to enhance mutual understanding and strengthen relations between the two countries. Prior to joining the Commission Tangerine was Director of International Education and Research at Monash University. She has also managed several strategic planning and federally funded initiatives in the U.S. and oversaw transnational education programs with key international partners in the MENA and Asian Pacific regions.

Rob Livingstone

For more than three decades Rob has amassed senior managerial experience, substantially as CIO in multinational corporations. He is also an author, columnist, speaker and regular news media commentator on the implications of new and disruptive technologies. As a Fellow of the University of Technology Sydney’s Faculty of Engineering and IT, he lectures to higher‐degree students on leadership, strategy and innovation. He is also a Research Associate at the Communications Law Centre, an independent non‐profit, public interest centre specialising in communications, media and online law and policy. Since 2010, he has been running his advisory practice, Rob Livingstone Advisory Pty Ltd, and is now a sought‐after mentor, consultant and industry advisor.

Amy Lyden

She is the Scholarship Program Director for the Westpac Bicentennial Foundation, which was set up in 2014 with a $100 million gift from Westpac to support 100 scholars a year, forever. The scholarship program invests in Australia’s future leaders through education and support and is focussed on three areas: technology and innovation, strengthening ties with Asia and enabling positive social change. Previously, Amy was the founding CEO of the Australian Scholarships Foundation (ASF). She previously served as Chair of the Australian Businesswomen’s Network, an organisation that supports female entrepreneurs and business leaders. She also served on the Commonwealth Small Business Council, an initiative of the Federal Minister for Small Business.

Associate Professor Gavan McCarthy

He is Director of the University of Melbourne eScholarship Research Centre in the University Library founded in 2007. His research is in the discipline of social and cultural informatics with expertise in archival science and a long-standing interest in the history of Australian science. He contributes to research in information infrastructure development within the University and his projects highlight strong engagement with community.  His distinctive cross-disciplinary research reaches into other fields such as education, social work, linguistics, indigenous studies, anthropology, population health and history. He re-examines theoretical foundations and tests new theories through practical interventions with a focus on public knowledge domains, contextual information frameworks and knowledge archives.

Dr Ann Moyal AM, FAHA

She is a leading historian of Australian science and telecommunications, a biographer and auto-biographer. Formerly Director of the Science Policy Research Centre at Griffith University, she has held research posts at a number of Australian universities including the ANU and the University of Sydney. She founded the Independent Scholars Association of Australia in 1995. Ann is the author of PlatypusClear Across Australia and A Woman of Influence.

Dr Cameron Muir

He is an environmental historian at the Australian National University and National Museum of Australia. He was a Fellow at the Rachel Carson Center in Munich, and is the author of The Broken Promise of Agricultural Progress (Routledge 2014).

Dr Jane Mummery

She is discipline leader for Philosophy at Federation University Australia, and one of two Chairs of the Humanities in the Regions Network. Her research examines the utility of ethical-political models for considering and engaging mixed-species communities.

The Hon Dr Brendan Nelson

He was once a Medical Practitioner and is now the Director of the Australian War Memorial. In between, he was the Australian Ambassador to Belgium, Luxembourg, the European Union and NATO, National President of the Australian Medical Association (AMA, and a Member of the Federal Parliament of Australia, where he served as Minister for Defence and  Minister for Education, Science and Training. In addition to his present post as Director of the Australian War Memorial, Dr Nelson is a Distinguished Visiting Fellow at the Australian National University; a member of the Chief Scientist’s Advisory Council; and a board member of a variety of charities.

Dr Lisa O'Brien

She is the CEO of the The Smith Family. Her job is to extend the effectiveness and reach of The Smith Family’s programs to support more disadvantaged children and young people. She has worked in leadership roles across the public, not-for-profit and commercial sectors over the last two decades. She is a non-executive director of the Community Council for Australia and BUPA Australia & New Zealand, member of Chief Executive Women and former CEO of the Skin and Cancer Foundation Australia. She was also a founding member of Sydney’s Lou’s Place, a drop-in centre providing respite and support for women in need. She is a medical practitioner.

Dr Anna Poletti

She is a Lecturer in Literary Studies and Director of the Centre for the Book, at Monash University. Her research examines autobiography beyond the book: contemporary and historical uses of life story, self-representation, and the archive.

Dr Lauren Rickards

She is a Senior Lecturer at the School of Global, Urban and Social Studies at RMIT University, and an Associate of the Melbourne Sustainable Society Institute at the University of Melbourne. Lauren’s research focuses on notions of agriculture, rurality, wildness and adaptation in the context of large-scale environmental change and contested discourse about it.

Professor Joseph Siracusa

He is Professor of Human Security and International Diplomacy and Deputy Dean of Global Studies at RMIT University. He is internationally known for his writings on nuclear history and arms control. He is a member of the CHASS Board and currently serves as the Secretary.

Associate Professor Ramón Spaaij

He is a sociologist at Victoria University. He also holds a Special Chair in Sociology of Sport at the University of Amsterdam and is Visiting Professor at the Utrecht University School of Governance, the Netherlands. Ramón’s research centres on questions of social cohesion, conflict and social change. He addresses these questions using the sociology of sport and the sociology of terrorism.

Claire Spencer

Claire commenced work at Arts Centre Melbourne as Chief Executive Officer in November 2014. Prior to Arts Centre Melbourne, she was at the Sydney Opera House for nearly 12 years – her last role being Chief Operating Officer, a role she commenced in October 2010. In this capacity, Claire was responsible for Precinct Businesses (Food and Beverage, Tours & Retail), Finance, Information Systems, People and Culture, Legal and Strategy and Risk Management. Prior to her tenure at the Sydney Opera House, Claire worked at Ernst and Young (London) and Cable and Wireless (London and Sydney).

Dr Helen Sykes AM

She is the Director of Future Leaders, President of the Trust for Young Australians, Chair of The Australian Collaboration, Associate of Melbourne Sustainable Society Institute, Member of the Future Justice Executive, and Summit Governor of the Hillary Institute. She has published and edited many books. She is a member of the CHASS Board and currently serves as the Vice-President.

Dr Michael Theophilos

He is a senior lecturer in Biblical Studies and Ancient Languages at the Australian Catholic University. Most of his research focuses on the corpus of Greek papyri and tablets that illuminate the historical, social and linguistic context of the New Testament within the Greco Roman world.

Dr Thom Van Dooren

He is a Senior Lecturer in Environmental Humanities at the University of New South Wales, Australia, and co-editor of the international open-access journal, Environmental Humanities. His most recent book is Flight Ways: Life and Loss at the Edge of Extinction (Colombia UP: New York, 2014).

Professor Deb Verhoeven

She is Professor and Chair of Media and Communication at Deakin University and is International Chair of the 2015 Digital Humanities conference Programming Committee. Professor Verhoeven is a leading proponent of the Digital Humanities in Australia, and is the Project Director of Humanities Networked Infrastructure (HuNI), a national research platform for the arts and humanities funded by NeCTAR (National eResearch Collaboration Tools and Resources). She served as inaugural Deputy Chair of the National Film and Sound Archive of Australia (2008-2011) and as CEO of the Australian Film Institute (2000-2002). She held recent appointments on the Find and Connect Web Resource Advisory Committee (Department of Families, Housing, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs), the inaugural executive of the Australasian Association of the Digital Humanities (aaDH) and the Tasmanian Government’s Digital Futures Advisory Council.

Professor Kim Vincs

She is the Director of the Deakin Motion.Lab, Deakin University’s motion capture studio and performance technology research centre, which she established. She has been a choreographer for over twenty years, and has focused on interactive dance technology for the last ten. She recently created 3D game engine scenography for the Victorian Opera’s The Flying Dutchman. She has commercial motion capture credits for computer games, television commercials and film, including the Cannes Silver Lion winning Nocturnal Migration.

Professor Catherine Waldby, FASSA

She is Director of the Research School of Social Sciences, Australian National University. She was formerly a Professorial Future Fellow at Sydney University. She researches and publishes in social studies of biomedicine and the life sciences. Her recent books include The Global Politics of Human Embryonic Stem Cell Science: Regenerative Medicine in Transition (with Herbert Gottweis and Brian Salter), and Clinical Labour: Tissue donors and Research Subjects in the Global Bioeconomy (with Melinda Cooper). With Nikolas Rose and Ilina Singh, she is the co-editor of BioSocieties:an interdisciplinary journal for the social studies of life sciences.

Chris Wallace-Crabbe AM

He is the author of more than twenty collections of poetry. He has a worldwide reputation, while his most recent books of verse include Telling a Hawk from a Handsaw and New and Selected Poems (Carcanet Oxford Poets) and My Feet are Hungry (Pitt Street Poets). He was founding chair of Australian Poetry Limited and is a Professor Emeritus at the University of Melbourne. He has spent time in India and has taught at Harvard and at the University of Venice, Ca’ Foscari.

Sally Warhaft

She is a Melbourne broadcaster, anthropologist and writer and the host of the Wheeler Centre’s live journalism series, The Fifth Estate, now in its 4th year. She is a former editor of The Monthly magazine and the author of the best selling book Well May We Say: The Speeches that Made Australia. Sally is a regular host and commentator on ABC radio and has a doctorate in Anthropology. She did her fieldwork in Mumbai, India, living by the seashore with the local fishing community.

Dr Ionat Zurr

She is an artist and a researcher whose pioneering work with the Tissue Culture and Art Project, established in 1996, is considered a leading biological art project.  She is a recipient of 2013 Discovery Early Career Research Award of the Australian Research Council, where she explores the actuation of tissue engineered muscle for artistic purposes. Ionat is an Assistant Professor and the Academic Coordinator of SymbioticA, School of Anatomy, Physiology and Human Biology, The University of Western Australia. This year she received a joint position at the Royal College for the Arts in London. Ionat developed and ran the postgraduate program in SymbioticA, and in 2005 the internationally unique course titled Master of Science (Biological Arts) was officially launched. In 2013 Ionat completed a six month secondment where she (together with Oron Catts) was setting up a biological art lab called BiofiliA – Base for Biological Art and Design, at the School of Art, Design and Architecture, Aalto University, Helsinki, where she was a Visiting Professor; Ionat was a fellow in the InStem Institute, NCBS, Bangalore (2010) and a visiting scholar at The Experimental Art Centre, Stanford University (2007) and The Tissue Engineering & Organ Fabrication Laboratory, Massachusetts General Hospital, Harvard Medical School (2000-2001). She exhibited in places such as the MoMA NY, Mori Museum Tokyo, Ars Electronica, Linz, GOMA Brisbane and more.